It took just one day of testimony for the Jerry Sandusky trial to dig a little deeper in to the personal connections to former coaches and players at Penn State. LaVar Arrington, the always vocal presence who played linebacker for one of Sandusky's best defensive units (as well as his last), found himself feeling apologetic for his link to one of the victims allegedly harmed by Sandusky. Of course, Arrington was none the wiser of the volatile and disturbing acts allegedly taking place on Penn State's campus, inside football facilities.
"It’s hard to believe I could feel any worse about the horrific situation at Penn State and the allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky," Arrington wrote in a recent column on WashingtonPost.com. "But when the trial opened [Monday], to my dismay, matters became even more personal."
The first witness to take the stand in the trial, referred to as Victim 4 in the grand jury presentment, said Arrington was his favorite player, and Sandusky allowed him to take a jersey from No. 11's locker and arranged for a photo to be taken with the menacing (on the field) linebacker, who still had a soft side to him for those he can help out. Arrington says he knew the alleged victim fairly well but never knew the depth of the harm that was taking place in secret.
"Everything that has happened has aged me a few years, as I’m sure it has many others," Arrington says. "But now my sadness and disappointment are growing as I realize that I knew this young man fairly well but didn’t grasp the full extent of what he was going through."
Here is more from Arrington's column;
As time went on, I knew he looked up to me and was a big fan, and I made a point of stopping to talk with him. I’d ask him the usual questions: ‘How are you?’ ‘How’s school?’ He always seemed mad or kind of distant. I remember distinctly asking him: “Why are you always walking around all mad, like a tough guy?”
My preconceived notion was that he was part of Sandusky’s Second Mile foundation, so he must live in a troubled home, and I chalked it up to that. I would just tell him to smile every once in a while or laugh, that it would make him feel better. I guess with everything that I had going on, it certainly wasn’t a priority for me to try to figure him out. I saw him at the 1999 Alamo Bowl and shared a couple laughs. I left school for the draft and that was that.
There is no doubt that Arrington's ties to Sandusky and Penn State leave him numb. Knowing what he knows now I have no doubt that had Arrington been the one who walked in on Sandusky in a position to harm a young boy, he would have taken him down the way he did so many running backs and quarterbacks on the field. And nobody would have a problem with it.
"My anguish and disappointment doesn’t compare to that of the victims," Arrington says. "All I can do is hope that Victim 4 finds this entry and can see that I’m offering my sincerest apologies. I am so sorry this happened."
In one heart-felt column Arrington's apology comes off more genuine than anything that has come from any of the so-called men who were actually in a position to do more. Arrington's apology was not needed, because he was in the dark like everyone else.
Arrington wishes he could have done more to help, just as we all do. Arrington did nothing wrong, of course, which means the apology is not exactly necessary. But we know where Arrington's heart is, and we know Arrington has a stronger soul than others have shown throughout all of this painful process.
Read Arrington's full column on WashingtonPost.com.
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