Franco Harris, a former football star with Penn State and later the Pittsburgh Steelers, remains a steadfast defender of Joe Paterno even after the scathing report delivered by former F.B.I. director Louis J. Freeh indicating that the former coach and top three university officials "repeatedly concealed critical facts" about the abuse committed by Jerry Sandusky.
In an interview with WPXI that aired on Friday, Harris said he is currently more convinced than ever that Paterno wasn't involved in a cover-up. According to Alby Oxenreiter of WPXI, Franco said he read "most of the Freeh report."
"After I read the Freeh Report, I feel even more strongly about Joe and about his non-involvement in any type of cover-up. There was no cover up," he told Oxenreiter. "No way would Joe ever cover-up anything like this. No way would Joe protect Sandusky or protect the football program."
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Harris has consistently defended Paterno ever since Sandusky's initial arrest in November 2011, notably telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and various media outlets that it was wrong of the PSU Board of Trustees to fire Paterno. The Meadows Race Track and Casino cut ties with Harris for his outspoken defense of Paterno in the aftermath of Sandusky's arrest.
Although Franco is perhaps the most vocal supporter of Paterno, he is not the only Nittany Lions football player whose view of the former coach is unchanged by the findings of Freeh's report. Current PSU players Silas Redd and Jordan Hill recently spoke about out their feelings for their former coach.
"I'm still a big supporter of coach Paterno and he is one of the reasons that I'm here," Hill said. "All you can really say is no man is perfect at all."
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