Penn State wins the Big 10, and the misguided Paterno worship begins anew

Joe Paterno failed at being a decent human being. We shouldn’t re-lionize him now that Penn State has won the Big 10 conference.

Joe Paterno knew for decades that his assistant coach was sexually abusing boys, said nothing, and even told at least one victim to drop his accusation.

Let that sink in for a moment, and then check out the following image:

Pro-Paterno photoshopped image taken from Facebook group "Penn State - Put the Joepa Statue Back Where it Belongs"

Pro-Paterno photoshopped image taken from Facebook group “Penn State – Put the Joepa Statue Back Where it Belongs”

Joe Paterno was an decent football coach. But as we now know, he was also a horrible human being. When he was faced with the decision of whether to do what was right, or do what was easy, he chose the easy path. And his failure at being a decent person far outweighs his success at football.

I’d like to imagine that Paterno had the best of intentions, that he didn’t want to damage his players’ futures. But instead of putting his adult players’ careers at risk for a year or two as his football program was disgraced, he put countless innocent children at risk, and who knows how many more were abused by Jerry Sandusky – 32 as of July, 2016.

I congratulate the Nittany Lions for winning the Big 10 conference title yesterday. That is a great achievement, and I congratulate Coach Franklin for leading the team this far. Paterno’s poisonous legacy was an albatross around your necks that you successfully overcame.

And if God is just and real, then Paterno is looking up at Coach Franklin and the team from the Eighth Circle of Hell, specifically the Sixth Bolgia, where he is imprisoned with his fellow hypocrites and forced to wear his lies and fraud as a leaden cloak – forever.

Image from The Digital Dante, Columbia University

Image from The Digital Dante, Columbia University

4 replies »

  1. I am stunned that you are so focused on this with blog after blog, and such a bright guy misses the perspective of so many alums. They deserve to move on and claim their proud heritage beyond Paterno. Penn State is so much more than just football. Let Paterno rest in peace, because there is no proof he knew anything…I am talking real proof not bullshit blogs that won’t let people heal. Let thousands of alums move beyond and create a new reality. I am not excusing anyone including the parents who were happy to get the perks given to them by a pedophile. They claim they didn’t know and that is less excusable to me, but you think Paterno should have known when the people living with the boys claimed they knew nothing. Let it die and write about something that can make a difference. All this does is re-injure.

    • Marti, I only post on this when someone else brings up Paterno, as some of my alum friends on Facebook do (and did recently, thus this post). As you say, and as I wrote back in 2011, Penn State was far more for me than football. And I congratulated Penn State for their win in the OP, which is an impressive feat in what is usually one of the most difficult NCAA conferences. So I don’t think I’m preventing any alums from moving on. If anything, I’m trying to remind the pro-Paterno alums that they can’t reset history in what strikes me as an attempt to erase Paterno’s moral failure.

      Court documents, unsealed over the summer, strongly suggest that Paterno knew about allegations of abuse by Sandusky, possibly as far back as 1976 and likely in the 1980s. Without the opportunity to cross-examine Paterno, we can’t know the facts perfectly. It’s possible that the accusers in the unsealed court documents (which were widely reported by CNN, the Washington Post, ESPN, the Centre Daily Times, USAToday, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, et al) are committing perjury, or just misremembering. But given how far back the accusations go, how many assistant coaches are mentioned by accusers, and how Paterno ran the football program (ie, if his assistants knew, Paterno almost certainly did), I find it highly improbable that Paterno wasn’t aware of the accusations well before 2001. But I can’t prove it.

      Maybe Paterno’s memory was failing. He was 85 when he was deposed for the Sandusky case, so it would hardly be a surprise. Maybe he, like so many people, unconsciously edited or blocked his memories of earlier accusations because they were horrible things to remember. I’ve experienced this exact thing in my own life, and for something that wasn’t even a a fraction as awful as abuse. We don’t know, and given Paterno died in 2012, we’ll never know for certain. I’d be saying the same things even if I wasn’t convinced that Paterno knew in the 1970s or 80s, because even if he first heard in 2001, Paterno should have reported it sooner. In fact, it wasn’t until researching this article that I even read the details about the 1976 accusations.

  2. Stop being so short sighted. It’s easy for accusers to start coming out of the woodwork when there’s big money lawsuits involved. What’s to stop anybody who lived in the State College area between 1970-2000 from coming out and saying “Oh, yes, I was raped by Sandusky” or “I told Coach Paterno about this and that”? Nothing. And the sad thing is that these money-grabbers take away from the true victims of Sandusky and take the focus of the real issue of preventing things like this from happening in the future.

    But just because you dislike Paterno or have an opinion, doesn’t make him guilty of anything. Everything is hear-say or based on the opinions of the Freeh report. If you truly know about Paterno, then you’d know that he hated Sandusky and didn’t get along with him at all. He kept him around because it would look bad getting rid of someone who was not only a good defensive coordinator, but also a pillar in the community. It’s hard to believe that if Paterno had enough facts about the child abuse that he wouldn’t try to get Sandusky fired/arrested. He had no reason to cover-up anything or to defend Sandusky. Paterno never actually witnessed anything. He was allegedly told of some things and presented those accusations to his superiors. Think about that. If somebody at your job came to you and said “I saw so-and-so in the shower doing X, Y, and Z”, how would you handle it??? Unless you actually witnessed it, you don’t know what happened and you don’t know the whole story, so all you can do is address it with Human Resources and let them do their due diligence.

    And you don’t find it fishy that out of all these accusers and all these “witnesses” who claim to have told Paterno that zero, not one, NOT. EVEN. ONE., thought to go to the police??? Not one of these people who crawled out from under a rock once there was a million-dollar lawsuit on the line have any kind of legal testimony or police document of the incidents they are now claiming to have happened. McQueary the crybaby who is 6’5″, 250 lbs couldn’t stop Sandusky himself? And he only told Paterno and his dad??? But neither him, nor his dad, thought to contact the police? But yet, he’s getting paid millions while we’re condemning Paterno to hell. And now magically, 5 years later, someone is claiming to have told Paterno something in 1976, but again, told nobody else and didn’t go to the police. Not one person. NOT ONE PERSON, in 40 years, not one, ever went to the police. Joe Paterno – one man – silenced every single one of them? You serious???? Yes, he had a lot of power at Penn State, and yes, if he truly did want to cover this up, he probably could have silenced some. But every single one??? I don’t think so.

    When I was a student at Penn State, one of our friends was punched by her boyfriend (a starter on the football team). Did we go tell Coach Paterno? No. You know what we did? WE CALLED THE POLICE!!!! And you know what? If we had gone to Coach Paterno, told him, and he in turn told us not to say a word to anyone…..we still would have told the police.

    • Greg, Paterno personally admitted that he first heard allegations in 2001. Instead of doing the responsible thing that you did – report the allegation to the police – he reported it to the university, who feared the scandal and covered it up.

      Whether Paterno liked or hated Sandusky doesn’t matter. What matters is this – “He kept [Sandusky] around because it would look bad getting rid of someone who was not only a good defensive coordinator, but also a pillar in the community.” When there’s a possible crime involved, you go to the police, not HR. That’s what I would have done.

      Do you realize that you’re saying that Paterno shouldn’t have gone to the police in your second paragraph, yet at the end you’re saying he should have? Which is it? Because it seems like you’re applying a double-standard.

      And no, I don’t find it at all strange that Sandusky’s accusers or witnesses didn’t go to the police. That’s normal for all victims of abuse, whomever they are, for a host of reasons. Look them up. That doesn’t mean all the accusers were actually abused, but you’re blaming the victims on behalf of a man who supported their abuser because he was “a pillar of the community.” And in a strongly hierarchical organization like the Penn State football program under Paterno, it’s hardly a surprise that it took years for a witness to finally go around Paterno and the University brass and go straight to the police.

      When I was there, the football program was run by Paterno like a private fiefdom. I lived in West Halls, where a lot of the basketball and volleyball players lived and ate, and you heard stories from the other student athletes about how football players were getting punished by Paterno for things that should have been punished by the University or even the police. I have no proof, but given how those recollections mesh with official reports, I doubt that they were merely rumor.

      I’m glad you called the police in the incident you described. But the double standard you’re applying and the victim blaming you’re doing are not OK. Please take some time and reassess your approach to this issue, because at the moment you and alums like you are part of the problem.