NFL Legend Franco Harris Stands By His Old Coach Joe Paterno And Loses His New Job
Normally defending somebody you admired as a young man when he is in trouble will not get you fired. However, if your job is being the public image for a company and the person you defend is someone who may have known more than he'll admit about the sexual abuse of children, then all bets are off. Joe Paterno is a great football coach, but as more details become available on this how can you respect him fully as a person? You hear about a child being molested by your staff member and you choose to do the bare minimum. What a man. Recently there was a report that Paterno sold his home to his wife for $1 just before this scandal went public. Looks like a man who knew about the scope of this scandal than he claims and a man who is in the mode of shielding his assets. I'm sure the Joe Paterno that Franco Harris knew, the football coach and mentor, was a positive influence. However as everyone gets blindsided by this story you have to wonder if he really knew the real Joe Paterno.
If you're hiring a spokesman for your business in greater Pittsburgh, it's hard to go wrong with Franco Harris: Super Bowl MVP, Hall of Famer, businessman and all-around ambassador for the city. At least, that's what the Meadows Racetrack and Casino was betting on — no pun intended — when it hired Harris and former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate Rocky Bleier last month to "assist the entertainment facility with various outreach activities, charitable events and public appearances," as well as appear in television spots.
It's a safe assumption that it was not betting on the new face of the business publicly sticking up for his old college coach in the wake of the child sex scandal that just rocked his alma mater. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Steelers legend and Penn State great Franco Harris blasted Penn State's Board of Trustees for firing Joe Paterno, and promised to support his former coach by visiting him Saturday.[…]
"I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go," said Harris, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "I'm very disappointed in their decision. I thought they showed no courage, not to back someone who really needed it at the time. They were saying the football program under Joe was at fault.
"They really wouldn't give a reason. They're linking the football program to the scandal and, possibly, the cover up. That's very disturbing to me. ... I think there should be no connection to the football program, only in the case that it happened at the football building with an ex-coach. I'm still trying to find out who gave him access to the building, who signed that contract."
The bottom line for Harris: "If I had to choose today between the moral integrity and character of Joe Paterno and the politicians and commentators criticizing him, I would pick Joe Paterno, hands down, no contest every time." On almost any other occasion over the past 40 years, the rest of Pennsylvania would be standing right beside him. On this occasion, though, that sentiment is not going to be very good for business