Ten years after Wisconsin linebacker DeAndre Levy was involved in a play on the Penn State sideline that broke Joe Paterno's leg, he called it his "proudest moment in college" and referred to the former Nittany Lions coach as a "dirtbag."

In an article appearing in Men's Journal that was headlined, "The most interesting man in the NFL," Levy, who now plays for the Detroit Lions, was critical of Paterno for reportedly being aware of sexual abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky, Paterno's former defensive coordinator.

"That dirtbag, man," Levy told the magazine. "We've got to stop prioritizing sports over humanity. Just because somebody can throw a football or coach football, they're excluded from their wicked acts."

The 2006 sideline incident in which Paterno, then 79, was carted off the field came five years before the allegations against Sandusky were made public. Four days after that, Paterno was fired.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who was an assistant under Paterno from 1986 to 1992, often has talked about the influence of Paterno in his life and called him a mentor.

Caldwell said his players are allowed to have whatever opinion they want.

"Really, I think I've gone on record many times about how I feel about Joe," Caldwell said. "And in regard to our players making their statement about how they feel, I'd be hypocritical to tell you anything other than the fact that they can express their opinion. We don't all necessarily agree with it."

Detroit rookie defensive tackle Anthony Zettel was recruited by Paterno and played for Penn State. He sat out as a redshirt in 2011, Paterno's last season.

Levy wrote an essay that appeared last spring in The Players' Tribune in which he spoke out against sexual assault on college campuses. He said victims of sexual assault reached out to him after the essay appeared and shared their stories with him.