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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Joe Paterno, in a letter written nearly a month before his January death, defends the integrity of the Penn State football program he guided for decades.

In the newly public letter, the Hall of Fame coach also admonishes critics who equated the child sex abuse charges against ex-assistant Jerry Sandusky to a football scandal.

Paterno says the fallout had nothing to do with the on- and off-field achievements of players.

A spokesman for Paterno's family confirms the letter's authenticity to The Associated Press. He says it was a draft intended as an opinion letter seen by several ex-players. It was emailed Wednesday — not by the family, but by an unknown former player to other former players.

The letter was posted on the website, which covers the team.

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