LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears defensive tackle Anthony Adams, who played for Penn State and former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was charged with 40 criminal counts of molesting eight young boys over a 15-year period, struggled Wednesday with what he called the "heartbreak" of the ongoing scandal with pride for his school.
"I don't know about all this stuff that's going on, but I know when I was there, [Joe] Paterno was a great man, Coach Sandusky the same, a first-class organization," said Adams, who played one year for Sandusky before he retired.
Adams said he never heard of any suspicions regarding Sandusky's behavior when he was there.
"The man I knew was very respectful. He did everything the Penn State way. So I don't know what's going on now but when he was coaching at Penn State, when he was coaching us, he was always very respectful, very professional and somebody that's just a role model. I don't know what's going on now. ... It's heartbreaking."
Paterno said in a statement Wednesday that he would retire at the end of the season, but later in the day the Penn State board of trustees fired Paterno and school president Graham Spanier.
Adams and kicker Robbie Gould said they would have liked to see Paterno retire at the end of the season rather than be fired.
"I think he should. I think he will," Gould said. "Let's hope the kids can refocus now, worry about beating Nebraska, and not worry about situations that are out of their control or not in their hands."
"I believe he deserves to do that," said Adams.
Both players said the scandal does not affect their pride in the university.
"No, I'm still proud of what we represented," Adams said. "We had a special way we did things, the right way. We did things different from everybody else. It was a standard and at the time I really didn't understand it because I thought we were being punished. How come I can't wear chin hair? How come I have to be somewhere 15 minutes prior? It was a standard that we set. It was the Penn State way, and I'm still proud of us."
Gould defended Paterno, who is being criticized for not acting more aggressively when he first learned of the accusations against Sandusky and said Wednesday in his statement, "I wish I had done more."
"Obviously we became better people and better athletes by attending Penn State and that's why you go there," Gould said. "So I don't think that'll change. He was a great coach and he always will be."
Adams said it pains him to see the Penn State logo next to the words "sex scandal" and will reserve judgment on everyone until it plays out in the legal system.
"I guess everything is going to court so you really don't know what the 100 percent truth is," he said, "but just being in this situation, like I said before, is heartbreaking."
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.