Franco Harris has arguably been the most outspoken of Joe Paterno's former players in light of the Penn State scandal. And now it has cost him his job as a spokesman for The Meadows Racetrack & Casino.
Here's what Harris, the former Steelers running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer, said after Paterno was fired last week, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
"I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go. 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."
Harris also was critical of state police commissioner Frank Noonan for suggesting that Paterno had a "moral obligation" to report Sandusky had sexually assaulted a boy in the showers at the Lasch Building to the police once informed by an eyewitness, a 28-year-old graduate assistant coach later identified as current Penn State wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike McQueary.
"When I heard that, it blew my mind," Harris said. "Why would they bring the moral into the legal? Now, everyone gets to interpret in their own way. That's what really bothers me: Joe did what was right for him to do. He forwarded the information to his superiors. That's the legal procedure at Penn State.
"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."
And here's the statement from the casino, which was issued last night:
"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."
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Harris and his Steelers teammate Rocky Bleier were hired by the Meadows in early October to 'assist the entertainment facility with various outreach activities, charitable events and public appearances.' They also did television advertisements."
And the last thing a casino needs is to have its upstanding reputation besmirched in any way.
Franco Harris fired by Meadows for his support of Joe Paterno [Post-Gazette]
Franco Harris criticizes Penn State for firing Paterno [Tribune-Review]
Meadows Cuts Franco Harris [Patch]
[Photo via SI for Kids]