Kennedy said Wednesday that during his time in college and at The Second Mile, he never noticed anything out of the ordinary with Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator who is at the center of a child molestation scandal that has rocked Penn State.
"My heart goes out definitely to the victims," said Kennedy, who spoke to reporters for the first time since being suspended for four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substance policy.
"I did my internship with the Second Mile, I was out there placing kids and setting up activities and everything else. In my head, instantly I'm thinking about times when I've been around Jerry and maybe something like that had happened. I just thought he loved kids and had a genuine passion for it.
"There were no signs, nothing weird or anything like that," Kennedy continued about Sandusky's behavior. "He was the defensive coordinator, a helluva coordinator. I know that in '99 he was done. I didn't understand why he retired at the time. So now looking back on this, well, hold on, maybe it had something to do with it."
Kennedy, who was a first-round pick drafted out of Penn State in 2003, still sounds shocked that Joe Paterno is no longer coaching at Penn State after having lost his job due to the scandal.
"I know Coach Paterno is a no-BS type of guy like [Tom] Coughlin," he said. "When I went in there [in 1999] I was a knucklehead and he instills his character on you, he wants you to conform to a different program just like Coughlin. He expects things to be done the right way, the Penn State way and it just hurts the stuff that is coming out because it isn't the Penn State way."
Kennedy, 32, said he interned for The Second Mile because of his own rough upbringing in Yonkers, N.Y.
"I have a background where I come from a rough childhood where I have been in foster care, so it is my way of [giving] back and which is why I got my [rehabilitative services] degree," Kennedy said. "I thought [Sandusky] shared the same passion. It just hurts to hear all of this stuff."
Kennedy has also heard what some have said about his own suspension and drug-test failure. The defensive tackle did not reveal what led to his suspension but made it clear that he was not taking steroids.
He informed the Giants of a possible suspension prior to signing with them this season.
"It definitely ain't no steroids or nothing like that," the 6-foot-4, 302-pound Kennedy said. "See, I got sweat jackets on. ... If I was taking that [stuff] I'd be ripped the [heck] up. [Forget] you all, I'd be modeling somewhere [if I took steroids]."
Kennedy has been reinstated from his suspension but has not been added to the 53-man roster yet. The Giants have a roster exemption until Monday. If the Giants activate Kennedy to the 53-man roster between now and Monday, they have to make room for him with a roster move.
Kennedy, who has four tackles in five games as a backup, says he is ready to return to action after having been away from the team and the facility for a month.
"I was technically off the roster, wasn't allowed to come to the practice facility at all," Kennedy said. "[There] is a difference between lifting weights and treadmill and running on the field by yourself than chasing Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. It is a huge difference. But I left when I was about 305 and came back around 301."
But when Kennedy was suspended in October, Paterno was still running his alma mater. Now upon returning to the Giants and football, Paterno is out and Penn State is in turmoil.
"We are focusing on the fact that Coach Paterno lost his job, not the fact that Jerry was actually touching kids and everything else and so on," Kennedy said. "I know how Coach Paterno is. If Coach Paterno would've saw it himself, it would have been a done deal, he could have run to the cops. I'm more hurt because this is a guy who I respect, a huge influence in my life in Coach Paterno and he is not there anymore.
"It's just a sad situation and definitely sad when it is a little innocent kids."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.