NFL Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris visited Lottie Grunsky Elementary School on May 1 to receive students’ feedback from a taste test of some of the products from his company, Super Bakery, which provides about 10 food and snack items to Stockton Unified School District. The items are compliant with government nutritional guidelines. An article about Harris’ visit was in the May 2 edition of The Record and an accompanying video is available for view at Recordnet.com.
Aside from speaking about his company and the importance of nutrition, Harris spoke in defense of his former college football coach at Penn State, Joe Paterno, and was critical of the university’s board of trustees in wake of the recent scandal involving former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was indicted on 42 counts of child molestation from 1994 to 2009 and is awaiting trial.
The Sandusky scandal led to Paterno being fired by the university after nearly 46 years as head coach for “failure of leadership.” Paterno was alerted of possible wrongdoing by a Penn State assistant coach in 2002. Paterno reported the incident to his superiors but the information was not reported to law enforcement. Paterno died on Jan. 22, just more than two months after he was dismissed.
“I talked to Mike McQueary and what he told Joe Paterno there’s no way that Joe should have called the police that night. He had no information or not enough information to call the police,” Harris said. “He did the right thing in telling his superior and then his superior was meeting with Mike McQueary, who forgot who actually saw it, five days later. And so why was Joe even involved in that because he didn’t see it. He was just told and now they’re dealing directly with the guy who saw it, so that was all misleading and that was all to redirect the focus.”
Harris hopes Paterno’s name and legacy eventually are cleared.
“Right now, the Penn State community still is deeply divided,” he said. “We have the board of trustees and their position and then we have everybody else.”
Harris said Sandusky’s guilt or innocence is for a jury to decide. But he is steadfast in his support of Paterno.
“We want to right the wrong that was committed that night when Joe Paterno was terminated,” Harris said. “What we need now are new people on the board of trustees. The people that are there now haven’t really demonstrated the leadership that was needed during a very trying and troubling time.”