View Photo Gallery: Joe Paterno won 409 games in 46 years as the head football coach for Penn State University, a record for a Division I football coach, and guided his team to national championships in 1982 and 1986 before his death from lung cancer in January. A report released last week shows that he helped cover up allegations that Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had sexually abused young boys.  

The Jerry Sandusky scandal rose to another level with the release of information in the Freeh Report on Thursday that Joe Paterno was part of the group that attempted to cover up what happened.

I have been offering my opinion about this since the beginning and I won’t stop now. But I realize that no matter what I write I will offend someone. If I say anything positive about Penn State or Paterno, the public will condemn me, and Penn State will praise my efforts. If I condemn my alma mater, it will be the reverse.

So what am I to do? Making it a point to be a voice during this horrible time hasn’t been easy, but it has been necessary and therapeutic. Figuring out how to prevent this from happening again is where my head is now.

I can’t stress enough how much my heart goes out to the victims, named and unnamed. There almost certainly will be lawsuits, but I’m sure there’s no monetary value that can be placed on the devastation they suffered. The healing, restoration and well-being of the victims and their families continue to be the focus of my concern and prayers.

Now how do we move on from here?

I wish Paterno, former Penn State president Graham Spanier and others had better handled the situation when they first learned of it. Sure, public disclosure or firing Sandusky would have been embarrassing. The school would have taken a blow and the media would have teed off on what had been considered a squeaky clean school and football program, led by a man with a reputation for doing things the right way.

There would have been civil suits and tons of money paid out to the victims. Maybe some recruits would have chosen other schools. Boosters might have stopped donating and reputations would have been affected. That’s not what happened. As a result of official decisions, children continued to be victimized.

I can speak from the heart when I say nobody is more disappointed than Penn Staters about how this was handled and how it has made us look. It took wonderful people, year after year, to build the school’s reputation — not football players as much as students and professors.We are more than Paterno or any other single figure there. Our chant is “We are Penn State.” Not “he is” or “she is.” A big mistake would be making this all about loving or hating Paterno.

When I was being recruited by Penn State, coaches made a point to stress the values symbolized by having no names on jerseys, plain uniforms and a humble, hardworking approach in all that they did. Strive to be better. Set a positive example. Create the standard. My dad, a soldier, raised us that way and I knew that Penn State was where I wanted to be.

I believe that message is as clear now as ever and this will have to be the way the school’s reputation is rebuilt.

As for the statue of Paterno: Leave it up or take it down — it really doesn’t matter that much, in my opinion. Paterno’s legacy has been tarnished and there’s a good chance it always will be.

Both sides of this conflict would be better served turning their attention to fighting for better policies to protect kids. If you are a Penn State alum, student or employee, you are fighting to preserve the legacy that each and every one of us who attended the school stands for, which is excellence.

We had nothing to do with this mess, but we accept the judgements about Paterno and whatever is required for the victims and their families to move forward.

Our goal is to show the highest possible level of support and remorse for what happened to those kids and their families and, along the way, work to restore what we’ve all been a part of building all these years — Penn State’s reputation.

I’m still Penn State proud. I will be accused of being biased, and and I wouldn’t disagree, but I’m not blinded by the pride I hold for the school I attended.

In my heart I know that supporting the victims and my college is the right thing for me to do. It says in the Bible to let he with no faults cast the first stone.

I’m comfortable knowing that too many great people have come from Penn State to ever think the actions of a few define all of us.

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