By the time it’s all said and done, millions of words will be expended on the Penn State debacle. Who knew what? How long did they know it? How deep was the cover up? Who’s going to prison? What of Joe Paterno’s legacy? Should the burden of “punishment” fall on the entire Penn State community? How much will this cost the taxpayers of Pennsylvania? What role, if any, does the NCAA have in this case?
I’ve been following the story, peripherally, as it all started to unfold. First, when Jerry Sandusky was arrested and through his trial and subsequent conviction and then I was curious as to what the Freeh Report would reveal. I thought it would be an all-or-nothing type of document. Turns out it was all. An ugly, gut-churning all that makes me cringe.
All through the prior coverage and definitely now that the Freeh Report has been released, I’ve been annoyed at Joe Paterno’s supporters. I was having a hard time figuring out why when I finally realized what it is that’s been bugging me. Most, if not all, supporters say pretty much the same things.
“He graduated more football players that most schools.”
“He wasn’t afraid to bench a player if he had too.”
“He made a lot of money for the school.”
“He helped a lot of people.”
Really, these are the examples people! These aren’t examples of someone being a stand-up guy; a legend. These are examples of someone doing his JOB! For which he was paid, handsomely. In cash and prestige. These are testaments to what a great football coach he was, not what kind of man he was. Not when it really mattered.
No, when it really mattered, Joe Paterno couldn’t even live up to his own words. Rather, he protected his own best interest. As the news cycle churns through another scandal, the victims get to relive it all over again. I wonder how they feel when they listen to the apologists. They should not be the ones that need to live in shame while the Paterno family gets free rides on the university’s private jet. While they get to go on TV and talk about what a moral, upstanding person their father was. They should be ashamed of themselves.
They should be begging for forgiveness.
Every time I hear someone say “He did a lot of good for a lot of people.” I’m going to reply “Really? How about the boys he left to be raped and abused at the hands of a monster. Didn’t they deserve someone of his standing, of his character, watching their backs?”
He had the chance to make a real difference and he failed. Failed himself, his family, his community, and every single boy that was harmed after he had knowledge of what was being done to them in his department. Joe Paterno was many things chief among them, he was a coward.
That’s his legacy.