LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Joe Paterno's head coaching career at Penn State came to an end Wednesday, in the wake of news that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 criminal counts of molesting eight young boys over a 15-year period.
Two of Paterno's ex-players at Penn State -- Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould and defensive tackle Anthony Adams -- struggled to come to grips with the scandal and ensuing firing of their former coach, but indicated it's time for the school and, most importantly, the victims to begin the healing process.
"It's sad to see a program that's had such high morals and standards ... that this has happened," Gould said. "Going through a situation like this, it's shocking because everything we did at Penn State was by the book. Obviously, we held everyone to a high standard, and it's tough to see guys go through this situation in the sense that it got to where it is, and how it happened. I feel bad for the victims, and obviously we hope the university can rebound. At this point, it's just about preventing it from [being a] next time, and for the university, making sure going forward they can rebuild the name of the university."
Paterno released a statement Wednesday saying he would retire at the end of the season, but later the university's board of trustees fired the coach and school president Graham Spanier.
Gould initially defended Paterno, who is being widely criticized for not acting more aggressively upon hearing of the accusations against Sandusky and said Wednesday in his statement, "I wish I had done more."
Asked whether the university made the right call in firing the coach, Gould said he couldn't make any comments "on whether it was right or wrong."
"It's what the board of trustees decided they needed to do for the university," he said.
Both Gould and Adams lamented the fact such a scandal could occur at a school that placed such emphasis on high morals and doing everything, as the kicker said, "by the book."
Adams said he had "mixed emotions because we all know what Coach Paterno meant to the university, [and] we all know what he meant to us as individuals."
Visibly affected, Adams expressed difficulty in watching details of the scandal unfold in the news.
"It's been a tough couple of days," Adams said. "You feel for all the victims and the victims' families. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them."
Adams also admitted that it's crossed his mind as to whether there was a way he could have somehow done something to prevent the abuse allegedly administered by Sandusky.
"He was around us, like at bowl games, at stuff like that. You read in the reports, and it's just like ... you see the kids and you're thinking in your head, 'They're probably sick about our program,'" Adams said. "You've got cards and stuff with our faces on them with different quotes we say on the back. And then now, it's gonna forever be involved with this. It's just disgusting."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.