“Now is the appropriate time. Enough is enough,” said former tight end for the Nittany Lions, Brian Masella, who spoke on behalf of over 200 former Penn State football players calling for a large bronze statue of Joe Paterno to be returned to the campus.
Masella and the others feel they have waited too long to restore the honor that is due their beloved coach.“We have been told during the last four-plus year that the board and administration are waiting for the appropriate time to repair the damage they created,” the 1975 alumnus told Philly.com.
The university removed the statue of JoePa outside of Beaver Stadium after his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of more than 40 child-sex-abuse charges. Sandusky now resides in a state prison in Greene County and has been moved to restrictive prison housing to avoid the risk of fellow prisoners killing him due to the nature of his crimes.
Penn State University fired the now deceased Paterno as the head football coach after Sandusky was charged, and the NCAA vacated 111 of his wins for allegedly ignoring Sandusky’s heinous behavior after first finding out about it. Paterno’s family rejects the allegation.
The NCAA has since reversed itself and restored the schools victories making Paterno once again the winningest coach in college football history.
The official statement from the Penn State players reads:
We, the undersigned, are united by the common bond of having been a member of the Penn State Football Team. We state, unequivocally, that our program has always been one of integrity, honesty, and respect. Under Coach Paterno, we strove for academic excellence and made an ongoing commitment to becoming better men.
We remain saddened that the Penn State Administration and the Board of Trustees thrust our program and coach into an undeserved negative media frenzy in 2011. Nearly five years after the firestorm, they still have not defended us or corrected the false narrative. Our legacy and our university deserve better. Penn State’s leaders should take two steps toward repairing the damage that they created.
First, restore the statue of Coach Paterno and the players’ wall to where they stood previously outside Beaver Stadium. These testimonies to “Success with Honor” should never have been removed.
Second, a formal apology from the University to Sue Paterno needs to be issued. This is a common act of decency, which is both warranted and long overdue.
The university’s leaders have repeatedly stated a desire to restore unity to the Penn State community. We hope that they will not waste a great opportunity to do so.
Read here to see the list of Penn State lettermen, which includes a Heisman Trophy-winner and a Jacksonville Jaguars player, who signed the petition.