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Old Stuff

I wasn't always here in the mountains. Some stuff I wrote before I had the guts to let anyone see.

Thoughts on Joe Paterno November 7, 2011

Minivan Dad

Are you kidding? Really, Joe Pa? 


One of your most trusted and closest assistants for over 30 years, who adopts children and runs a charity for underprivileged boys, is a serial child abuser and rapist and you have absolutely no idea? None? Zero? You are “shocked” and you were “fooled?” Really?


The news that emerged, and continues to emerge, about Jerry Sandusky is revolting, disgusting, and disturbing. This isn’t Tiger Woods running around with consenting adults, and yet the current coverage is far less than what occurred those two Thanksgivings ago. This is far more monstrous to comprehend. This is criminal behavior of the worst possible kind by a public figure, an employee of the state university of Pennsylvania, whose job it was to coach young men.


An evil predator like Jerry Sandusky didn’t just start this stuff at the age of 52, in the late nineties. The actual scope of his activities will likely be too frightening to comprehend.


And yet the moral godfather of college football, the man’s boss, the head football coach at a publicly funded University, claims he knew nothing. All those years working closely with the man. Observing his interactions with players and children from his charities. Children who traveled with the Penn State football team! Are you kidding? He was told about an incident and “passed it along as he was required to do”? He never followed up while this man was using the reputation of his University and of his football team to further his own evil intentions.


Okay. He is human, Joe Pa. He’s getting older. He believes his friend is flawed but can’t bring himself to acknowledge the depth of his depravity, depravity that occurred under his watch. Now everything is brought into question. How long did he know or suspect? Why did he inform Sandusky, well before Joe was ever contemplating retirement, that he wouldn’t be the next head coach at Penn State? What did this have to do with his retirement?


Now that these events have surfaced, and the criminal process has begun, what has the great Joe Paterno done? Issued a very crafty statement. Denied any criminal wrongdoing. Confirmed that he followed the University’s guidelines by passing along the information that was given him and washing his hands. Letting two superiors take the fall instead of him. Nice paragon of virtue, fundamental values and boring uniforms.


What will happen next? He will coach the rest of the season. He will state that the commitment to his team of young men is not going to be broken by these allegations. He will swear to his players that he had no idea, and that loyalty is a virtue to be praised, and that any of them would do the same if confronted by questionable information about a close friend. They will win games, and talk about how the controversy has bonded them into a stronger unit. If they lose, they will blame the “distractions”. 


Then, at the end of the year, wins record intact, the great Joe Pa will retire. He will say that he feels that it is in the best interest of the program that he step down because the media attention is diverting his focus from his team, and his team’s focus from football, and until the criminal situation is resolved his presence will be a distraction, and he wouldn’t ever want anything to divert the focus of his team from football. He will thank the University and the people of the State, and assure them that he has never done anything that was not in the best interests of the University, the Athletic Department, or the football program. He will not be charged with any criminal wrongdoing, because he probably didn’t do anything. The letter of the law has never been broken by the great Joe Pa, and likely wasn’t in this case either. Then he will exit the stage, telling the media that he can’t comment on an ongoing criminal prosecution and that he really isn’t interested in discussing his “legacy.”


What a shame that would be. There is really only one thing for him to do and that is to resign immediately.  More than likely, Mr. Paterno is technically not lying. It is quite doubtful that he was ever a direct observer of any of these acts. If he was, then this is even more sickening. He probably doesn’t have “first-hand knowledge” of Mr Sandusky’s activities. He may have heard rumblings other than the specific event in the Grand Jury report, and likely took steps to protect himself and the University, in that order, within the letter of the law. He doesn’t need to resign because of any legal implications that we don’t know about because it is doubtful that there are any.


Let’s face it- these are not just allegations against Jerry Sandusky. This is all true and he will likely plead guilty and he and everyone else is going to protect the name of Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program. 


Mr Paterno should resign because he is the head football coach of one of the nation’s most prestigious football programs, a position from which he has amassed great wealth and standing (there an endowed Chair at the University in his name), and one of his long-time and most well-known assistants is a serial child rapist. If he did know in his heart but chose not to believe, then he will have his own reckoning and have to live with his choice and the knowledge that though he did nothing criminal, he did nothing to protect the community. If he didn’t know, to put it bluntly, he should have. Either way, it is clear now that this did not come as a surprise to him this weekend.


Coach Paterno should have prepared his assistants to coach the rest of the season, met with his team, and held a news conference today. He should have stated that although he was informed of a single incident and did what he was supposed to do with the information, it is now clear that he had no idea of the scope of this human tragedy and is shocked that a man so close to his heart could have been such a monster. He should have apologized for not knowing, because his job is to coach young men into examples for the youth of his community and the youth of America, and he should have known. He should have then resigned, asking the public to respect the privacy of his current team, none of whom are involved in this tragedy. He should have stated that the shame that he feels knowing that this occurred during his watch is too much to bear, and that as a result he feels that he is unworthy to continue in his position as head coach.


Then at least he could pretend to stand on a tiny remaining patch of higher ground. Instead, he now deserves to sink as far into the muck as circumstances dictate.