Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy said recently that he wasn’t serious when he called breaking the late Joe Paterno’s leg in a sideline collision his proudest moment in football, but not when he called the former Penn State football coach a “dirtbag.”
In a column for the Detroit Free Press, Levy, who played for Wisconsin when he ran into Paterno, wrote that “any person or institution, Joe Paterno included, that turns away from or fails to act against sexual assault is a ‘dirtbag.’ Paterno was the head coach at Penn State when Jerry Sandusky abused children during and after his time as an assistant coach at the school and multiple people testified that they made Paterno and others involved with the program aware of Sandusky’s actions without any action being taken.
In an email to the paper, 21 players who played for Paterno at Penn State, including Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris, responded to Levy’s column and earlier comments.
“We find the recent statement by DeAndre Levy about Coach Paterno appalling, along with the silence that has accompanied it. To joyfully and proudly take credit for hurting a defenseless human being is sad, in and of itself. But, to couple this gleeful statement with a willful ignorance of the facts and circumstances surrounding our coach speaks to a complete lack of character and moral integrity on the part of Mr. Levy. Mr. Levy’s comments reflect poorly on him, his university, the Detroit Lions and the NFL, and are certainly deserving of vocal condemnation.”
Lions coach Jim Caldwell worked for Paterno as an assistant from 1986-1992 and said he disagrees with Levy’s assessment of the man but not his right not share it.