Second-year Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless deserves major kudos for even showing up to Thursday's media session, knowing full well he'd be assaulted by questions about the ghastly allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and the torn-to-shreds reputation of Quarless' former coach, the legendary Joe Paterno.
Frankly, I felt sorry for Quarless — and that was before some idiot TV guy, acting as if he were Erik Walden chasing down Philip Rivers on Sunday, ran at Quarless while shouting his question from across the locker room.
"I'm just shocked at the whole situation in all, the fact that it was going on, on the campus, in these facilities that I was in," Quarless said while facing a media horde usually reserved for MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers. "But a lot of people have been talking about Joe and Sandusky and all that, but a lot of people forget about the victims. I have a son myself. I'm really looking at it from the victims' parents' perspective. Even though I'm an alumni, I'm really looking at it from that side. It's very unfortunate. These kids have to live with that. A lot of them are older now, but they have to live with that for the rest of their life. It's definitely a sad situation."
Quarless said it was "unfortunate and sad" to see a "legend" like Paterno not being allowed to step aside on his own accord after a record 409 wins. But that doesn't mean he was in his former coach's corner, like the thousands of students who rioted after the school decided to fire him on Wednesday.
"It's hard to feel a lot of sympathy for a lot of those guys," Quarless said. "It's a real tough situation. I'm getting a little more about it each day. I read the grand jury report, and that's what really touched me, when I read that report. I really feel sad for the kids, for the victims. It's very unfortunate. It just hurts that those things were happening in the same facilities I was in, even at the time when I was there. It's just tough to really fathom. It's really tough to fathom. Reading that grand jury report, it really hit me, that it was real and these things were going on. I'm kind of upset, I mean, I don't want to say ‘kind of,' I am upset that more action wasn't taken toward Sandusky. But I think his time is going to come."
Though he saw him at the football facilities often, Quarless said had no dealings with Sandusky, who retired in 1999, and never heard any rumors about the former coordinator's alleged relations with children.
Quarless said he remains proud of his alma mater but wishes the 2,000 or so students who filled the streets hadn't rioted after news of Paterno's firing broke.
"They should be rallying for the kids that went through it," he said. "For the rest of their life, they have to deal with this."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.