O' Brien lashes out on criticism of Penn State athletes' medical care

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Bill O'Brien was angry this afternoon, not even "yell at Tom Brady for 30 seconds angry," more like "this is personal, Godfather, Scarface etc. angry," and that rage was directed toward the Sports Illustrated article released earlier today that called into question the Penn State football team's medical care.

"Their health and safety is the No. 1 priority to me," O'Brien said on a conference call with reporters. "It's not near the top, it's not around the top, it's at the top. For anyone to accuse me that I would do otherwise is irresponsible, reckless and wrong. And you may believe I'm only addressing the media for that comment. You're wrong. I mean for Penn State, anyone in the media, anyone. I'm including anyone here. For anyone to say such a thing is preposterous."

He answered questions for nearly 30 minutes. In his opinion, these were the major issues with article, which suggested that this year's removal of long-time physician Wayne Sebastianelli was politically motivated by athletic Dave Joyner and left Penn State with less-adequate health care for its football players:

- "We had our dean of the medical school give a significant amount of quotes. That was not in the article."

-"We sent from Penn State our medical synopsis - that was not in the article."

- "I spent much time on Sunday with SI going back and forth. I didn't have any quotes in that article."

Summing it all up, O'Brien said, "What that article was to me was a character assassination on Dave Joyner. That's what it was, and it wasn't anything other than that. The care for our players is superb."

O'Brien was asked several times about the possibility of people trying to undermine his program. He said he didn't think about it and was prioritizing the well-being of his football team. Asked specifically about comments trustee Anthony Lubrano made to PennLive.com criticizing the switch to an NFL-modeled system of medical care, O'Brien said, "I don't know where anyone can just say a quote about something that they know nothing about. I don't understand."

By the end, when O'Brien was ready to stop answering questions, he had calmed/slowed down just enough to make a joke.

"I got my son's little league game in 15 minutes," he said. "So if I'm late to that I might be divorced."

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Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05


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