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MailTribune.com
  • Former Penn State players hoping ugly Sandusky episode will fade away

  • Jerry Sandusky, wearing red prison garb and a befuddled smirk for his date with justice, departed the Centre County Courthouse late Tuesday morning and vanished into the state's prison system.
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  • Jerry Sandusky, wearing red prison garb and a befuddled smirk for his date with justice, departed the Centre County Courthouse late Tuesday morning and vanished into the state's prison system.
    As those who played with and for Penn State's former defensive coordinator watched the scene on TV, they hoped the scandal the disgraced coach triggered would at last begin to fade away as well.
    "This thing has hurt everyone," said Rich Milot, the former Washington Redskins linebacker who graduated from Penn State in 1979, "the future students, the current students, the alumni, the players there now. It's tarnished everything.
    "Maybe with him being sentenced, it will put an end to this whole terrible thing."
    Sandusky, 68, who was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, was sentenced by McKean County Court Senior Judge John Cleland to between 30 and 60 years for his crimes.
    His arrest last November transformed Happy Valley. Among the events that followed in the tumultuous 11 months were the firing and death of Sandusky's legendary boss, Joe Paterno, and a series of unprecedented NCAA sanctions against Penn State's football program.
    "Obviously, this whole thing is a tragedy," said Pete Kugler, the Nittany Lions defensive tackle from Cherry Hill High School East who played for the San Francisco 49ers. "But I still didn't agree with what the NCAA did to the team.
    "As for Sandusky, I really don't know what to say about him. It was a horrible story, and I just pray nothing like this ever happens again. It seems like every hero that's left in the world is falling. Paterno was a hero, and now this thing has tainted his legacy."
    Though Sandusky, one of the principal architects of Penn State's reputation as "Linebacker U.," almost certainly will be in prison the rest of his life, the damage he caused lingers at the state's largest university and beyond.
    "It's not just Penn State; it's the whole town he's hurt," said former all-American linebacker Dennis Onkotz, 64, who played one season (1969) with Sandusky on the Penn State staff and lives nearby. "Football is the biggest part of this place, and when that's hurt, so is everything else.
    "You feel bad for the kids, of course, but (the scandal's impact on State College) is another reason why this whole thing has been so depressing."
    Milot, 55, who played nine years in Washington and now lives in northern Virginia, said the events of the last year left his head spinning.
    "My emotions have been going up and down since this whole thing started," he said. "It's been kind of surreal for me and probably everyone else who had anything to do with the place."
    As for the length of the prison term, those former Penn Staters contacted believed that Sandusky, who continued to argue his innocence, received a just punishment.
    "If what his accusers say is true," Kugler said, "then he deserves all of what he got."
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