by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
The craziness is not going to end.
As long as the family, friends and cult-like worshippers of Joe Paterno continue to fight reality and try to re-write history, it’s just not. The latest grenade tossed in the direction of Camp Pro-Joe struck Thursday in the form of allegations that were 40 years old, only to be met with the type of all-too-common, blinders-wearing rationales and excuses used the last half decade to pardon yet another, uh, “something” that may have occurred, is another example of that.
Thing is, enough already. The fight is a losing battle for the one side, because A) it is vastly outnumbered and B) it is the wrong side. Sorry, Pro-Joes, it is.
Look, some serious shit went down in State College. Your beloved football coach knew about it.
Period. End of story.
Own it, accept it, realize there will be – and should be – repercussions for it. Then move on – without complaint, or ridiculously childish demands to reinstate wins to his official NCAA ledger or rallies to return statues honoring him to prominent places on the Pennsylvania State University’s main campus.
Paterno was not a victim in any of this. The dozens of kids Sandusky molested under Joe’s nose were. Try to keep that in mind.
Now, if you want to argue that Paterno didn’t grasp exactly what he was being told, or what it all meant, or the scope of sickness it covered, am not sure you’d have any debate from individuals or groups that utilize some measure of common sense.
It doesn’t take any leap of faith to believe that Paterno, lifetimes and lifestyles removed from those he oversaw, wasn’t the sharpest on sex crimes or terminology used to describe them, that he wasn’t truly up to speed on Jerry Sandusky’s predatory nature when things were brought to his attention ... and actually be correct.
In that vein, you can feel for Paterno, and for those who have steadfastly supported him, his name and his legacy long since his passing.
Unfortunately, none of that excuses him for a lack of action in derailing Sandusky from committing heinous acts against boys for decades … all under the guise of assistant coach, Penn State; defensive mastermind behind so much of Paterno’s success with the Nittany Lions.
In short, ignorance is not a valid defense. Not when you have staked your claim to so much power and reveled in Coke-bottle glasses-adorning, rolled-up pants-wearing, Brooklynese-speaking bliss wielding it.
What happened in Happy Valley occurred under Paterno’s watch. He was the man in charge, and for all the kidders out there clinging to the cover-his-ass contrary, he ruled the program with the type of control-freakish iron fist that, frankly, is quite common among celebrated leaders and “champions.”
There was no one above him. No red-taped course of action he had to follow. No chain of command he had to climb.
If he wanted something handled at Penn State, it was.
To suggest otherwise is to cast a deaf ear to your own glowing commentary on his coaching greatness, as if all those wins and All-Americans and two national championships … just happened. As if Paterno, really, had no control over them.
Fact is, he had control over everything at Penn State. Between the lines and beyond them.
That includes Sandusky, and all the criminal acts he committed after Paterno was initially alerted to one.
So, stop defending him, excusing him and then demanding he deserves a better shake from those casting aspersions on him.
You want him to rest in peace? Then see him for all he was, not just the good stuff. Hold him accountable, forgive him, and grasp that he earned his fate.
He was no saint.
Let that go … and the craziness will end for you.
Liked Joe Paterno.
Liked him a lot. From way back when, watching his early Penn State squads rise from the obscurity that was Eastern football to national recognition, he represented success in an understated, relatable way. Being a Keystone State native, was pretty easy to get hooked.
Later on, had the privilege of covering his Nittany Lions for several years. One of the greatest thrills of my literary life was entering Beaver Stadium as a writer handling major college grid action – in person – the first time, with Penn State hosting Southern California … and legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson among the media contingent joining me at Beaver Stadium.
By then, Paterno already had 27 years as a head coach and two national titles under his belt. That 1994 squad, headlined by three guys who would be selected in the top nine picks of the following April’s NFL draft (Ki-Jana Carter, Kerry Collins and Kyle Brady), probably would have yielded a third if not for pollsters and bowl matchups prohibiting a winner-take-all showdown between the Lions and fellow unbeaten Nebraska.
Thing is, there was a lot to like about him, just going off what you saw on the TV screen or in the won-loss column. But he was never saintly, and, to me, that was the best thing about him once getting to know him a little bit away from the field or press conference.
If anything, he was a normal guy, prone to mistakes like any other human and capable of cursing with the best of men (and women), who had an extraordinary talent to coach and lead men.
So, there is no joy for me in sharing an opinion such as the one you can read to the left here.
Frankly, didn’t exactly dislike Jerry Sandusky, either.
The guy was a great defensive coach who was shockingly approachable to discuss anything when it related to football. While Paterno and most of his players kinda shielded themselves from speaking to “outsiders” at every juncture, Sandusky pretty much stood alone, off in a corner, not looking for a conversation, but completely open to one if a person approached with a decent topic.
Yours truly did, often. He was a fountain of fantastic information, discussing things from strategy to legendary players such as Mike Reid.
Yeah, he did seem kinda odd. But had no idea about the sickness that lurked within.
So, no joy in seeing what ultimately was unearthed with him.
But no sadness for him, or Paterno, registers here, either … and cannot fathom why it does anywhere else.