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Bears kicker Robbie Gould remains proud of days at Penn State

8-28-10 Soldier Field. Chicago Illinois.  Bears No.9 Robbie Gould during warm up's.  Phoby Scott Stewart/Sun-Times

8-28-10 Soldier Field. Chicago, Illinois. Bears No.9 Robbie Gould during warm up's. Photo by Scott Stewart/Sun-Times

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Updated: September 9, 2012 6:18AM

BOURBONNAIS — Bears kicker Robbie Gould still is Penn State.

As crazy as it sounds, Gould is gripping that white-and-blue flag defiantly, holding on to it tighter than ever.

That’s why he recently reached out to first-year Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien to see how he could help. That’s also why he praises the players who have stayed with the program in the wake of one of the most horrific scandals to hit a university.

So does Gould feel any
obligation to apologize for playing football at Penn State in 2001-04? Not even close.

‘‘I talked to coach O’Brien the other day [and said], ‘Hey, whatever you need, just let me know,’ ’’ Gould said Tuesday. ‘‘I’m passionate about the program. It’s unfortunate what happened. I feel bad for the victims and their families, and I hope they get the help they need, whatever that may be.

‘‘I’m very happy to say that I’m a Penn Stater. You’re obviously disappointed in what happened within the institution, but it’s a great place to go to school, a great place to play football. I think with the new regime, their focus and dedication, listening to the interviews, they’re headed in the right direction.’’

Gould enters this season as the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history, so why do his views on his alma mater seem so skewed? Is it blind faith? Loyalty?

None of the above. Gould is educated and well-spoken and has done his homework on the matter. He doesn’t see it as former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky being protected by the university while he sexually abused children. It’s almost as though he is able to separate Sandusky from the university.

Gould is more concerned about moving forward — by helping the victims and their families — than about dwelling on what was. It’s like walking a high wire without a safety net.

‘‘Sure, there’s always
going to be some sort of tug-of-war, no matter how you look at it,’’ Gould said.

His interest now is on how the NCAA plans to use the $60 million it took from the university to help the victims, as well as on making sure the athletic program can recover and regain the trust of the community.

‘‘Obviously, taking away scholarships is going to hurt any program,’’ Gould said of the NCAA sanctions. ‘‘You can’t really put a numerical value and say, ‘It’s not going to be back in 10 years.’ No one knows. As long as the program does well — they get the right people in there that want to play football, learn how to be a man, get one of the best educations you’re ever going to get and succeed in life after football — then it’s the right place for people to go.

‘‘I hope the victims get the help they need, but I think it will be just a matter of time before things get back to somewhat normal.’’

As far as his views of late coach Joe Paterno, Gould implied loyalty to him without stating it. He specifically takes issue with the NCAA vacating all of Paterno’s victories since 1998. That means Gould never won a college game in the eyes of the NCAA.

‘‘I guess I never played college football,’’ Gould said. ‘‘I don’t think anybody,
including the Paterno family, would tell you that they care about the wins and losses in this situation. I really don’t care if I have a win or a loss at this point. I just want the victims to get the right help. I want to see the university get back to where it was when I was there, making the right decisions and making sure that the community becomes tighter. Hopefully, that will happen over time.’’

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