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Penn State Football: Former Players Stand Behind Joe Paterno

by on December 21, 2011 9:11 AM

Joe Paterno, who turned 85 today, is sure to receive hundreds — if not thousands — of birthday notes.

It's also likely many of the cards will take a similar tone to a letter signed by hundreds of former players that was released late Tuesday night.

More than 400 former players — spanning seven decades — have signed a letter of support for Paterno, who was fired Nov. 9 amid the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Paterno was discharged from the hospital on Sunday following a fall in his home that re-fractured his pelvis the previous week. Doctors recommended he stay hospitalized to accommodate his regimen of lung cancer treatments.

Lydell Mitchell, Franco Harris, Todd Blackledge, Shane Conlan, LaVar Arrington, Ki-Jana Carter, Michael Robinson and Daryll Clark are a few of the names to pledge their support to Paterno in the letter, which follows:

"As members of the Penn State Community, we are deeply saddened by the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. Given the allegations against Sandusky, we understand the public’s outrage because we share it.

At the same time, however, it’s important to remember that all of the facts surrounding this troubling matter are not known. Until all of the facts are known and due process has run its course, we ask that the public reserve judgment about Joe Paterno and the Penn State community.

Having known Coach Paterno for many years, we can say with certainty that Joe Paterno is a remarkable man and that Penn State is a remarkable institution. Joe has had a profound effect on the lives of almost every member of the Penn State family. Joe has taught Penn State faith, fairness, philanthropy and the importance of academic excellence – all values that make Penn State a great institution today.

Penn State’s new president recently said that he wants the university to be known as a great research institution. In fact, the institution that Joe helped build is much larger than a single coach or team. Penn State is 94,300 students on 24 campuses. We are Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Dickinson School of Law and Smeal College of Business. We are the world’s largest dues-paying alumni association. We are home of the world’s largest student run philanthropic organization. We are the University that has raised over $500,000, to date, for victims of child abuse during its darkest hour.

We are much more than just one man or one sport. We are a great research institution today and a university that prepares all of its graduates for success in many different fields.

Many in the Penn State community view the public’s rush to judgment of Joe as a rush to judgment of everything Penn State. We ask for due process for Joe Paterno and the Penn State community. Based on the immense quality of Joe’s character and the absence of all the facts, we stand in support of Joe and Penn State."

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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