ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Anthony Zettel spent almost his entire Penn State career in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, and now that he’s in the NFL, he has an opinion on what happened to him and his teammates during his career.
He believes they got “hosed.”
His response came Thursday when he was asked about the latest allegations at Penn State, that former coach Joe Paterno was aware of Sandusky’s abuse of children for decades and that former assistant coaches were also aware of it. Penn State has challenged those accusations, which are in court documents.
“I actually found out today that all the [new] stuff is going on because I really don’t look on the Internet too much, but I don’t know, man,” Zettel said. “It’s just, like, I think the players went through a lot of what happened 30, 20, 10 years ago, and I think they got really hosed on everything and they didn’t do anything.
“So I mean, it is what it is, but it’s a ... bad situation. But I think Penn State will recover.”
Zettel said he believed Penn State is the “best school out there." He spent five years at the school during some of the most tumultuous times in the program’s history.
After the Sandusky scandal led to the firing of Paterno, Penn State was fined $60 million, banned from the postseason for four years, had scholarships reduced for four years, was on probation for five years, and had wins vacated from the 1998 to 2011 seasons. Some of those penalties were reduced in recent years (Penn State is still on probation), and Penn State went to bowl games in each of the past two years.
The players in Zettel’s class ended up playing for three coaches. They signed with Paterno, played two seasons under Bill O’Brien (now the head coach of the Houston Texans) and then played for current Nittany Lions coach James Franklin.
When the sanctions were levied, players were given the opportunity to transfer to another school without penalty. The majority of Penn State players stayed, and Zettel isn’t sure that would happen at a lot of schools.
“Me and my teammates, we had the choice to go wherever we wanted,” Zettel said. “So we all stayed, and I think there was only a couple schools in the whole country that would have did what we did.”