By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Michael Robinson had to pause and gather himself as a throng of reporters surrounded his locker this afternoon.
The Seahawks fullback, who quarterbacked Penn State to the Rose Bowl six years ago, was saddened by what is happening at his alma mater. As a father, he is devastated to hear that former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky is being charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span.
As a proud Nittany Lion, he is saddened what’s happened to Joe Paterno, his former coach at Penn State, who was fired Wednesday night. Robinson and teammate Deon Butler, another Penn State alum, spoke with reporters hours before Paterno’s dismal when the legendary coach announced he would retire at season’s end.
“First off, I want to express my deep sorrow for the children that are involved,” Robinson said. “I have three kids myself, and I can’t imagine what those families are going through today and have went through in the past.”
Robinson then paused to collect himself, clearing his throat.
“It’s a sad day to be a Penn Stater,” he said.
Speaking of Paterno’s retirement announcement Wednesday afternoon, Robinson said he understood why his former coach would step down.
“That’s the type of guy that he is,” Robinson said. “He doesn’t want to be a distraction. … I know he wishes he could have had some things back — he’s not a perfect guy — but what he stands for as a man, and what he’s meant to college football, and what he has meant to me personally in my life, that’s another reason why I’m so saddened today.”
“It’s sad how,” Robinson continued, pausing a moment to collect himself, his voice cracking, “some sick people can tarnish a great man like that.”
Like Robinson, Butler offered his prayers to the victims, but also stood up for his former coach.
“First off, I just want to say the kids here are the victims if these allegations are true. So that’s the first thing, that we pray for those families and that everything works out well for them, because lost among this is just that you never want any crime against kids,” Butler said. “That’s the first thing.”
Paterno is not being charged with any crime at this time, however he is under heavy scrutiny for not doing more to stop the abuse.
According to a grand jury report, a Penn State graduate assistant told Paterno in 2002 that he had witnessed Sandusky performing a sex act on a boy in an on-campus facility. Paterno told the school’s athletic director, according to the report, but did not notify the police. The alleged crimes continued for years after, and Sandusky was only arrested this year following the grand jury investigation. As bad as the current situation is at the school, however, Paterno’s former player say they’ll stand by him.
“If you just know the guy, the man that Joe is that I’ve known over the years — obviously I know what he stands for and all of that — he definitely has our full support here,” Butler said. “… He’ll never lose the support of the former players that he has.
“Obviously that’s a sad day for anybody that went there, that’s been in the program and the state of Pennsylvania football. He’s just been there so long, and just knowing the man that he is — a lot of people think they have an idea of who he is — but if you’ve been on one of those teams you know exactly what he stands for, what he’s all about.
“Obviously no one there supports pedophiles if this is true, but just the guy that he is and what he stands for, just to see him at a time like this to go out this way, it’s a tainted legacy, and you don’t want people to think of him like that.
“Like I said, just knowing who he is, he definitely doesn’t stand for any of this. You don’t want that to take back all that he stood for for the game of college football, not just Penn State, but the whole game.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog