kindness of strangers

Penn State University.

Most parents hope they raise kind humans. Those that will show up for a friend in need without looking for a pat on the back for doing so. This story about a college student who was sexually assaulted in the '70s by a popular and beloved college football player shows exactly what it means to be the kind of person who shows up for someone in need. Betsy Sailor was a student at Penn State University in the late '70s when she accused a football player of assaulting her at knifepoint. Nevertheless, the football season continued and the players closed ranks around the star player leaving Sailor isolated and fearful. That is until Irv Pankey knocked on her door.

Pankey was a star football player at the time who would eventually go on to play in the NFL. He had everything to lose by showing support to a person who publicly accused his teammate of rape, but after hearing the ordeal play out in court, he couldn’t sit back quietly. Being a Black football player in 1978, it was risky for him to break ranks with his team, but his position in society is what helped him understand what it was like to feel isolated. Pankey told ESPN reporters Todd Junod and Paula Lavigne that he thought to himself, “She does not deserve to be a pariah. You will never have to walk alone again.”

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