Penn State and Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris has publicly backed his former coach Joe Paterno, tearing into the Penn State board of for firing college football’s all-time winnngest coach.
As a result of his remarks, the casino Harris has been representing as a celebrity spokesman decided to dismiss the Hall-of-Fame running back, according to reports.
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, in Washington, Pennyslvania, decided it was unacceptable to have a high-profile employee associated with Paterno, who was fired after a former assistant coach on his staff, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested on child molestation charges. Paterno reported an incident of sexual abuse to his superiors, but not to the police or other authorities, and Sandusky was able to retain all his Penn State privileges.
"In light of the recent developments with Franco Harris regarding Joe Paterno’s dismissal, Franco and the Meadows have mutually decided to put their business relationship on hold at this time, while these matters are looked into further,” the Meadows said in a statement.
Harris along with former Steelers teammate Rocky Bleier began working with the casino in early October, doing philanthropy and advertising work.
The idea of the 84-year-old Paterno being fired after more than 60 years of service to Penn State angered one of the school’s great football players.
"I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go," Harris told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "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 more 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."
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris.
(Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Bud Lite)