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Originally published November 9, 2011 at 7:12 PM | Page modified November 9, 2011 at 8:24 PM

Ex-Penn State players left sympathetic, sad

Sympathy and sadness. The combination caused fullback Michael Robinson to choke up in front of his locker before the Seahawks practice Wednesday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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RENTON — Sympathy and sadness.

The combination caused fullback Michael Robinson to choke up in front of his locker before the Seahawks practice Wednesday.

"Just a sad day for Penn State," he said.

He stopped, looked down at the floor for a few seconds to keep from being overwhelmed as he expressed his sympathy and his sadness over what has transpired at Penn State, his alma mater.

"First off, I want to express my deep sorrow for the children that are involved," Robinson said. "I have three kids myself, and I can't imagine what those families are going through today and went through in the past."

Robinson and receiver Deon Butler are the only two players on the Seahawks roster who attended Penn State. Robinson was a Nittany Lion from 2002 to 2005, when he became a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback.

Joe Paterno is an icon in college football. He was more than that to Robinson, though, and news of the coach's retirement Wednesday was especially difficult.

"I didn't agree with that," Robinson said. "But that's Joe. That's the type of guy that he is. He doesn't want to be a distraction. He doesn't like a lot of people talking about this. I know he wishes he could have had some things back. He's not a perfect guy, but what he stands for as a man, and what he's meant to college football and what he has meant to me personally in my life, that's another reason why I'm so sad today."

Robinson stopped and brought a towel to his face, dabbing away tears.

"It's sad to think how some sick people can tarnish a great man like that," Robinson said.

Robinson and Butler both enrolled after Jerry Sandusky had left the coaching staff. Sandusky is the former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator who faces 40 charges involving sexual abuse of children. The school's failure to report Sandusky after he was seen with a young boy in the shower by a member of the coaching staff has prompted outrage and ultimately led to Paterno's resignation.

Sympathy and sadness resonated from Butler as well. The former walk-on became the Nittany Lions' career receiving leader as a senior in 2008.

"The kids here are the victims, if these allegations are true," Butler said. "That's the first thing, that we pray for those families and that everything works out well for them, because lost among this is just that you never want any crime against kids. That's the first thing. Second off, if you just know the guy, the man that Joe is that I've known over the years — obviously I know what he stands for and all of that — he definitely has our full support here. I think everything will work out fine, but he'll do what he sees fit. But he'll never lose the support, I think, of the former players that he has."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @dannyoneil

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