Matt Millen Breaks Down And Cries On SportsCenter: "If We Can't Protect Our Kids, We, As A Society, Are Pathetic"

Millen was an All-American defensive tackle at Penn State in the late 1970s. Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky were his coaches. He got pretty emotional talking to Chris McKendry a little more than 30 minutes ago. The video is above, and the full transcript is below, courtesy ESPN captioning. H/T to CumaeanSibyl for cleaning up the transcript for us to make it more readable.

Matt: ... every parent stands on the case. You understand why people are calling for him to go, because it is not a letter of the law. It is now morals. How did Joe Paterno hear of it and allow it to happen? That is the question that everybody is asking. Why did he just go to the AD?

Here is what we know or think we know. We think we know all of the answers and the information. The fact is that we don't. That is just the way it is. So, Coach Paterno made a decision based on what he was given. And how that message was delivered and how it was characterized or marginalized, we have no idea. We don't know what that is. But I do know this, I do know that there is a due process that you are entitled to. I want to see that process come forward. It's sent to the court of public opinion. I get mad. Disturbing.

Chris: It is. It is like family for you, Matt. I think we all understand that.

Matt: It makes you sick to see that this could happen to this level, if in fact it has happened, you know there is a part of me like I mentioned earlier, you just want to go take care of it yourself. Which is what I have always done and which is the wrong thing to do. But this is more than just a program.Tthis is more than a football legacy. This is about people. And if we can't protect our kids, we as a society are pathetic. So, that is where I stand on it.

Chris: I know as I mentioned Jerry Sandusky, he first spoke to you when he wanted to start the Second Mile foundation. Matt, who is he? Do you know right now?

Matt: What I thought I know or what I know? He is your next door neighbor, you know your whole life. A helpful guy. He is a light hearted guy. He is a smart guy. He is willing to help a person, everything you want. That is the thing that, just, could you see it coming? I sat here. I have known the guy since 1976. I have been in meetings with him. He has been in my home. I go back and think about it, I couldn't even imagine this. I have to think that is the same thing Coach Paterno is thinking. That is why I say divorce yourself from the emotion of it. I apologize for getting emotional. but let it run its course. It has to do that. And then let the people whose job it is to put this thing together and figure it out, let them do their job.

Chris: Does the university have time to let it run its course, as angry as people are, and how much the football program produces financially? There is a lot of realistic things the board will be looking at.

Matt: The university will set its own timetable and determine what that is. They will determine who has the time and who does not have the time. You and I both know what we read in the paper. Being in this business, it is a fraction of what is going on. So maybe they have information we don't have. That is the first part of it. There is another part. The university is still a business that needs to be run. The reality is that there are people who donate lots of money, who sponsor. That is a whole other world. Then there is the political side to it. That is a reality whether or not you want to believe it. There are so many facets to this thing. You boil it down to one thing. It still comes down to, and I apologize for ranting, man's inhumanity towards man is mind-boggling. Where do we stop with this stuff? Drives me nuts.

Chris: And the university knew of this investigation ongoing for several years, as did the foundation, and it comes to light yesterday. Today also being election day, there is also political ramifications here. That is everything Penn State needs to sort out and quickly.

Matt: They do. There is a train coming down the tracks whether or not you want to believe it. You better get ready for it. Best way to do it is to deal with it honestly. I said with it and I tried to live this way, and I know I fail at it, but no excuses. No explanations. Step up, take what you are supposed to take and move on. And that is what you do. That is what you are supposed to do. Let's see what happens.

Chris: You mentioned the train coming down the tracks, does the NCAA have a seat on that train?

Matt: This is really an indictment of us as a society when we talk about this. Here is this program, you look at it from the NCAA side, they did not break any rules or commit any violations, there is no money being paid. From a football standpoint they are out of it. But from a bigger picture, I have to think they are already involved. They have to be. Penn State's program has always been above everything else, largely because that is what Joe espoused and lived. Was he perfect? No. Corrected them and owned up to them. That is what set him apart. I would expect the NCAA is jumping in at some level. The bigger fact remains that Penn State has to stop the train or face the train. That is what it is. It is bigger than institutional. This is about people. Because we are what makes up the institutions. So, there are people who have been hurt in a major way, and that needs to be rectified.

Chris: There was Joe Paterno. Was his way not to just teach football but to teach young men how to live their lives, get an education? And for so long he was what was different for many years now.

Matt: Chris, the shame of this, if this goes down the tracks like it is going to, Joe Paterno was different than everybody. And as much as I argued with the guy and believe me, we had some hum dingers, okay. I still respected the fact that he stood for something. He was able to stand his ground no matter what, whether it was a political stance or moral stance or whatever it was. He stood for something and he believed it. And he stood his ground. He would fight you on it. He will fight on this one, too. I know that guy too well. But it shouldn't tarnish - there are so many more good things to come out of that program and out of that man. This is what will end up biting him in the rear end. I hope it doesn't, but let's see how it plays itself out.

Chris: We always wondered what it would take for Joe Paterno.

Matt: A horror picture screen writer couldn't write this bad of a script.

Chris: Matt Millen, thank you.

Matt: Sorry. Sorry, people.

Chris: You are human. That is family to you and it has been a horrible situation. ...


Video by Tim Burke