Exclusive interview: Franco Harris defends Paterno, bashes PSU trustees



PITTSBURGH - Former Pittsburgh Steelers and Penn State University running back Franco Harris has been one of Joe Paterno’s biggest defenders since the Penn State scandal broke, and he’s still defending the late coach despite the Freeh Report.

Harris told Channel 11’s Alby Oxenreiter, “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. No way would Joe ever cover-up anything like this. No way would Joe protect Sandusky or protect the football program.”

Harris said he thinks justice was served with the Sandusky verdict, but that Paterno is also a victim, especially in the court of public opinion.

“All of the focus has been on Joe. People blame him more than anybody else and he played such a minor part in all of this,” Harris said.

Harris went on to scoff at any suggestion to take down the Paterno statue that stands outside Beaver Stadium.

“Until we finish with this, with this next trial and even more investigation into this, they really shouldn’t even consider this,” Harris said.

Overall, the Penn State Board of Trustees is the target of Harris’ most direct criticism.

“The Board of Trustees has made every bad decision along the way. These decisions, I’d probably say just about every one, have done things to hurt Penn State,” Harris said.