Requiem for Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno, quarterback at Brown 1949, a year before he took an assistants position at Penn State.

At one time no one said anything bad about Joe Paterno.

Within the last few months people could find little good to say about him.

With Joe Paterno dead all his supporters can now come out of the woodwork. Allow me to rephrase that; With Joe Paterno dead all his supporters can now be covered by the sports intelligentsia media.

The Child Abuse Scandal

The “stink” in this entire situation surrounding Penn State for the last three months is, was, and always will be on Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State administration, and the media . This story brewed and stewed for nearly a decade. The media and sports intelligentsia have all but ignored it until it became clear it could sell advertising time.

It was time to break the story; Paterno was near the end of his coaching days.

Believe this; if Penn State was in the running for a national championship this year it would have been buried deeper than Cam Newton’s college transcript and police report from Florida.

The geneses of this story starts when Paterno was past his mid-seventies in 2003. Some have suggested a man who ran an entire football program should have had the ability to report the incident (which he did); okay, he should have followed up. Suppose he did follow-up; what then if nothing was done? Go to the police; what then if nothing was done? Go to the media; (Now we’re talkin’ – sarcasm) what then if nothing was done? I got it! Take a gun and go kill Jerry Sandusky (more sarcasm). Anything short of going to the media and shooting Sandusky was not good enough (sarcasm).

Joe’s World

Paterno lived in a world of college football for all his life. It’s like a research scientists at a university; he’s consumed by his research, he hears about a professor becoming overly familiar with a student. He reports it and gets back to his research.

Paterno didn’t live in a sheltered academic environment. He lived in a world the academics disdain.

I don’t know exactly how many people were under Paterno; a dozen or so coaches, trainers, managers, recruiters, various advisors, secretaries, and at least one hundred or so immature young men. He was presumably responsible for all their conduct?

Paterno was raised in a time when bad things happened to kids you shake it off and go on. In his day there were no guidance counselors, school physiologists, trauma interventionists, abuse hot-lines, sensationalism obsessed media, publicists, sniveling hand-wringers, political and social liberal sports media, Dr. Drew, Dr, Oz, Dr. Phil or Dr. Feel-goods. You repressed things and moved on. You didn’t whine, complain, or make excuses. You didn’t point fingers, cast doubt, or blame. Not that those things are all bad or good, but that’s the way things were.

WWJD (What Would Joe Do)

I listened to the media excoriate Paterno’s statement on the abuse case as being out of touch and unfeeling. Anyone with a discerning eye, an understanding brain, and a compassionate heart need not know that Paterno was then dying and just a very old man. Shame on all those who rebuffed his words.

Those words did not go first through a media research committee before being read. They were the words from the heart of a confused old man. Until the media parsed them to death they were full of compassion and honesty.

Sports is often used as a metaphor for life. When you lose a game, you congratulate your opponent, correct the mistakes made, hold no grudges, and get ready for the next game.

There is a quality that should shine in all; we should not judge quickly or harshly (let‘s look at the game film first). There is none without defect or sin (sure you missed the final tackle, but there were a whole lot missed before yours).

There will be those who will now eat their words. If done for the right reason than they should not be judged because they judged quickly or harshly – they just made a mistake and welcomed back into the fold.

I don’t think you’ll hear “grudge” and “Joe Paterno” in the same breath. That’s the lesson.

(Link to another article.)

Joe Paterno, 2011, either holding the gate open or closing it: either way, the gatekeeper since 1966.

1 Comment

Filed under Essays

One response to “Requiem for Joe Paterno

  1. Pingback: “Say It Ain’t So, Joe” – Paterno | The Jittery Goat

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