Joe Paterno a scapegoat?
Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Updated: Sunday, June 17, 2012 14:06
By now most of you are probably aware of the sexual abuse scandal engulfing Penn State University involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and his alleged sodomizing of multiple young boys in the Penn State athletic facilities.
The acts that Sandusky allegedly engaged in are horrific and despicable on a level that words are barely accurate to describe.
If these allegations are true, his demented sexual perversion ruined the lives of the young boys whom he exacted his will upon, and one can only hope that someone else exacts their will upon him.
As for the former head coach Joe Paterno, the case is a bit murkier. Passionate Penn State fans and students are ardently defending Paterno as if he is a man above the law.
It is true that Paterno reported the abuses that were brought to his attention in 2002 to his athletic director and to the local police. Now that means, legally he has met his obligation. And I do think to some extent, he thought what he did was best for the program, the university and himself, notice the absence of the sodomized children in that listing.
That may very well be true of his actions, but the sticking point for me here is that a man who is lifted to prodigious status not only in State College, PA, but around the college football world, and was looked to as a role model by thousands and thousands of people, did not do enough to rectify the wrongs perpetrated by Sandusky under his watch.
Paterno was the face of Penn State football for decades, starting his coaching career in 1966. So the man had been at Penn State for nearly 40 years when these abuses took place.
He had considerable clout with university administrators, as detailed on Mike Francesa's talk show on WFAN in New York City, to the extent that apparently when the board of trustees planned to remove him a number of years ago, Paterno told them that he would leave when he is ready.
Now when you can turn around and tell the board of trustees of the university to essentially shove it, you have some serious influence.
The issue for me is Paterno's inability, or lack of will, to use that influence which he worked so hard to gain, to right the wrongs immediately, and to allow them to continue, even if his superiors chose to turn a blind eye.
Paterno would have certainly faired well in the court of public opinion. Last time I checked, no one ever got angry at someone for stopping or exposing child molestation.
No one would have demonized him if he had come out when he heard about it, if he had went to the board of trustees and had Sandusky removed. Frankly, he would have gained more credibility for being upfront, honest and of solid moral character.
Instead, he chose to hold back, sit on what he knew, most likely for the betterment of the program, trying to avoid a scandal and thought he was doing the best thing for everyone.
Well look at how that turned out. And as for the "frail old man" characterization and the notion that he is being railroaded and made into a scapegoat, come on. He's an aging man, not an invalid.
Originally, I felt the same way, that his firing was unfair because he wasn't directly involved in the little boy diddling and he did go to the police and his superior.
But after some serious consideration and listening as more and more facts came out, I started to realize how a man with this much power and influence allowed a predator to continue to use his football program as a hunting ground for children.
Take away his 400-plus wins and twenty something bowl victories and you have a man who was more concerned with the welfare of his own name and program than the lives of those children that that monster Sandusky used to satisfy himself.
Utilitarianism does not apply when it comes to rape and child abuse, the mental stability and health of those children is far more important than a game and the hurt feelings of the students, players and fans. There is a second chance for football, sodomy does not work that way.
I am an avid football fan, I played football for years and I will always love the game. But if you are talking about protecting children from sexual predators or scoring touchdowns, the choice should be obvious.
So for those of you, who are still on the "poor JoePa" bandwagon, think about it for a minute, and maybe you will also begin to see that he could have, and should have done more to avoid this entire situation, and ultimately have saved himself and his program.
There is no denying what Paterno has done for Penn State and college football as a whole, the man is a football legend, and without question a talented, possibly hall of fame coach.
But what remains to be seen is whether or not it will be that commitment to the game, the institution of Penn State and to his own image that will ultimately be his undoing.