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Throughout this entire scandal from the outset up until the recent firing of Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno, Paterno has done nothing aside from showing the arrogance, stubbornness, and selfishness that most people thought they’d never see from the beloved man who Penn State fans call “JoePa.”
Just as he failed to act 10 years ago when information was brought to him in regards to the atrocities that Jerry Sandusky was committing in the Penn State football complex, he has again failed to help the situation again.
As more and more people read over the pages of grand jury testimony and absorb and dissect the information, Paterno managed to take the spotlight away from the victims, the children who endured the abuse and have since been dealing with it, and put it on himself and the storied football program.
Failing to really comment, other than saying he was “absolutely devastated” by the case and that his heart went out to the victims, Paterno has made this about the school and football, continuing to do things his way much like he has done for the past 46 years as a larger than life football coach.
While Sandusky is the alleged criminal here, and will be punished by law, if found guilty of the 40 counts of felony sex abuse against minors, Paterno is and should be held to a much higher standard though “legally” he did nothing wrong.
No matter how you look at it, there is no defense for a man, or any of the people who were in positions of power, that had the chance to step in and stop Sandusky and turned a blind eye.
When Mike McQueary told Paterno of the incident in which he witnessed Sandusky performing anal sex in a shower on a 10 year old boy, all he did was pass the information on to next person up the chain.
While this is legally all he had to do, we are talking about Joe Paterno, the face of Penn State football for over half a century. The man who has a library named after him and has enough clout and power to do virtually anything he wants in Happy Valley.
He says he was unaware of the details of the situation recalling that McQueary “vaguely’ referenced “fondling” or “touching” by Sandusky and the boy and not fully understanding that McQueary saw a rape being committed, but why didn’t he follow up? Why would he just pass the information up the line about something that happened in the Penn State football complex involving his defensive coordinator and heir to be?
How can a man who has been known as a great man of character and shaper of young people just never give a second thought to an allegation such as this? He didn’t even question the fact that a grown man and a small child were alone in a shower together, he just went on with his business preparing for the next game.
He was too worried about his own reputation, the reputation of the school, and the school’s football team. Instead of being the man of character he was viewed as and taking responsibility he simply ran away from it much like Mike McQueary ran away from the scene that night to call his father instead of stepping in to stop Sandusky or calling the police.
Apparently to Joe Paterno, Penn State and the Paterno name were more important the lives of children who are now forever scarred and will now be known as Victim 1 and Victim 2. According to the testimony at least four eyewitnesses saw Sandusky committing inappropriate acts with children and yet Paterno knew nothing about it.
He knew nothing when Sandusky, a promising coach, retired in the prime of his career, but was kept as a consultant. He knew nothing when Sandusky was told he couldn’t bring children with him to the campus.
In spite of all this information, Joe Paterno still had the chance to take the moral high ground in the eyes of the media and the country by admitting his enormous failure and resigning from his position as head coach. He chose to do neither, but instead announced his plan to retire, at the end of the season.
That was another slap in the face of the victims and their families and showed that he’s bigger than the university and everyone involved with it and will do things on his terms. Just as he did ten years ago he planned to just pay no attention to everything going on and prepare for the next game like it was any other week.
Paterno has said that if it’s all true than Sandusky fooled everyone, but that can’t be true because Paterno was told face to face in 2002 point blank by someone who witnessed it and he stood idly by too worried about what would happen to the program and his legacy.
While nothing can be taken away from his successful career as a coach and what he has done for the university, what was once a great legacy of the man who was the face of Nittany Lion football for so long will now be remembered as a stubborn, selfish old man who was more worried about his own life than saving the lives of children who never got a chance to live theirs.