Former Penn State and NFL Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris wants Penn State President Rodney Erickson to restore the wall honoring decades of the Nittany Lions football team achievements. The wall was removed as part of the dismantling of the Joe Paterno statue in July.
“The wall represents a rallying point for the Penn State community and is important to everyone connected with Penn State football: players, students, fans, faculty and alumni,” Harris said in a statement. “Those on-field accomplishments, including last year’s team, should be honored on the same wall.
“President Erickson, rebuild our wall,” Harris said.
A Penn State spokesman said the university has not received a request from Harris to restore the wall.
The Paterno statue and the wall came down early the morning of July 22, culminating days of speculation over what the university would do with the statue after the Louis Freeh report accused Paterno of helping to cover up abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Earlier that week, a small plane spent days zipping over Beaver Stadium towing a banner that demanded the statue be removed.
Now, the grassy knoll next to Beaver Stadium on Porter Road looks as though there was never a statue or a shrine there. Crews filled in the space with dirt and planted trees so it matched the rest of the landscape in that area.
The location of the statue and the wall remain a mystery.
The football tribute wall was built in 2001, and it had plaques with season-by-season records of the Nittany Lion teams.
Harris said he was proud to be represented on the wall and that tearing it down was equivalent to “tearing down every player’s history.”
The wall also had a quote from Paterno: “They asked me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone. I hope they write I’ve made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.”
Crowds started gathering at the statue in the days before its eventual removal, as fans and alumni wanted to pay their last respects.
Harris stopped by the statue with the Paterno family on July 20, as scores of people lined up on a rainy late afternoon.
“It shows that people still show the love,” Harris said. “People deep down know the truth. ... That’s why they’re here.”