Bob Costas nabbed an exclusive phone interview with Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach accused of of sexually abusing underage boys over a 15-year period--charges that led to the successive firing of the school's president and legendary head coach Joe Paterno. An edited version of the interview aired on "Rock Center," NBC's new, Brian Williams-hosted primetime newsmagazine.
A spokeswoman for NBC said there were no restrictions placed on the Costas interview with Sandusky. Joe Amendola, Sandusky's lawyer, was present in the studio while his client was on the phone. It was Sandusky's first public interview since the charges were filed.
Costas asked Sandusky--who said he is "innocent of those charges"--if any of the allegations were true.
"Innocent, completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect?" Costas asked.
"I could say I have done some of those things," the 67-year-old Sandusky said. "I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact. So if you look at it that way, there are some things that, you know, would be accurate."
"Are you denying that you had any inappropriate sexual contact with any of these underage boys?" Costas asked.
"Yes, I-- yes I am," Sandusky responded.
"Never touched their genitals? Never engaged in oral sex?" Costas asked.
"Right," he replied.
Costas asked Sandusky if he was a pedophile.
"No," Sandusky said.
"What about Mike McQueary, the grad assistant who in 2002 walked into the shower where he says in specific detail that you were forcibly raping a boy who appeared to be 10 or 11-years old? That his hands were up against the shower wall and he heard rhythmic slap, slap, slapping sounds and he described that as a rape?" Costas asked.
"I would say that that's false," Sandusky responded. "We were showering and horsing around, and he actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor, and we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel—horseplay."
Perhaps the most uncomfortable exchange in an interview with plenty:
Costas: Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?
Pandusky: Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?
Sandusky: [Pause] Sexually attracted? You know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.
Asked if there was anything he wished he had not done, Sandusky said: "In retrospect, I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
"I don't know what I can say or what I could say that would make anybody feel any different now," he added. "I would just say that if somehow people could hang on until my attorney has a chance to fight for my innocence, that's about all I can ask right now. Obviously, it's a huge challenge."
The reactions to Costas' performance were swift, loud and overwhelmingly positive.
"Bob Costas showed you tonight why he is the best sports broadcaster of his generation," Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch wrote on Twitter.
"Bob Costas superbly handled phone interview with Jerry Sandusky tonight," ESPN's Chris Fowler wrote. "Most disturbing content possible handled with great poise."
TMZ said Sandusky was "hammered" by Costas.
CBS' Eric Stangel provided a recap to Twitter followers:
Spectacular Journalism, Insane Behavior, Terrible Legal Representation...
Costas also conducted a brief interview with Amendola, who hinted that come of the charges in the grand jury report will end up being denied by the alleged victims.
"I believe in Jerry's innocence," Amendola said. "Quite honestly, Bob, that's why I'm involved in the case,"
Earlier Monday, Amendola defended Sandusky's showering with children on CNN: "Jerry Sandusky is a big overgrown kid. He's a jock, and for anybody who's ever played sports, you get showers after you work out."
Clips of the interview are seen below from a segment on Good Morning America today.
Other popular Yahoo! News stories:
• NBC hires Chelsea Clinton; former first daughter joins Jenna Bush, Meghan McCain at network
• Phone-hacking: James Murdoch grilled by Parliament again; Tom Watson compares News Corp. to the 'mafia'
• Funny or Die launches 2012 election vertical with Mike Tyson as Herman Cain