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Former players show support for JoePa

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)

Many players once coached by Joe Paterno are showing their support for their former Penn State coach through a letter being released in time for his 85th birthday on Wednesday.

At least 340 former players had signed on to the letter online as of Tuesday night. Lydell Mitchell, a standout Nittany Lions running back from 1969 to '71, helped organize the effort.

Mitchell said the letter will be a surprise to Paterno. He was fired last month in the aftermath of child sex-abuse charges against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Mitchell stressed that those who signed the letter had sympathy for the alleged victims.

But he added players also wanted to honor how Paterno affected their lives and offer support as he battles lung cancer.

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