Sunday, January 22, 2012


On November 5, 2011,  Joe Paterno's world and legend began to unravel. On that day, his former
trusted assisant, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested on 40 counts in connection with a child-abuse scandal
that eventually brought down the kingdom that Paterno had built at Penn State. Over the next 78 days,  Paterno saw his character assassinated, his job terminated with a phone call,  a cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy, a broken pelvis, and what was sure to be a broken spirit, heart, and will to live. The stress, anxiety,the physical and mental pain he suffered was too much to bear. On January 22, 2012,
his time had come and he died with his family and friends by his side.

The tributes running on ESPN were poignant, yet uncomfortable. There didn't seem to be a way of praising Paterno for his contributions to college football and Penn State, without condemning him for basically turning a blind-eye to a scandal that may have ruined many people for the rest of their lives.
There is nothing sadder and sicker than a child-abuse scandal and Paterno will be tied to it forever,
no matter how many of his ex-players and coaches say that Paterno molded them into the men they
are today.

Up until this year, Paterno was college football royalty, and he was most definitely the face of Penn State. He helped build a school from what was known as a "Cow College", into a world-class university. He constructed a football program from the ground up and turned into a national powerhouse. He generated more money for a school than anyone in the  history of college football. He was all things great about the game. A man who won with character, integrity, and class. If there was anything bad about his character, nobody dared say anything about Paterno because that would be career suicide, whether you were a player, coach, or member of the media. He was JoePa. Statues were erected of him long before he died, his name canvasses the library on campus. He was a legend. A legend who was beyond reproach until November 5, 2011.

The scandal ignited by Sandusky was thrust upon Paterno. Admittedly, Paterno wished he could have done more to stop an alleged child-molester from using the football facilities tocarry out his sickness.
We all thought he should of done more, after all, it was a moral responsibility of his to do so. These were little kids losing their innocence to a man Paterno had known for more than 30 years. "Why didn't Paterno do more?". People will be asking that question until the trial of Sandusky starts and the facts come out. Paterno was deified for not only being a great football coach, but also for being a man of great principle, character, and integrity. But that perception of Paterno was blown to smithereens when he passed off the Sandusky incident in the showers to his superiors like relatives pass off the garbage after a Christmas dinner. Here, you take it, it smells, I don't want to see it, and I won't care about it once it's in the trash. Just take care of it.

In his last interview just a few weeks ago, Paterno admitted he didn't know how to handle the smelly trash at Penn State. After all, getting too close to it, would stink up the supposedly squeaky-clean program he had built. The program was his baby, his legacy, and he certainly didn't want a child sex abuse scandal turning his kingdom into a cess pool. Unfortunately, that's how it was perceived by just about everyone in the  country not named Franco Harris, Todd Blackledge, LaVar Arrington, or the 800 people who played for Paterno. Programs can overcome recruiting and cheating scandals, but a child-sex abuse scandal is a sin that is not forgiven easily  I don't know exactly what happened at Penn State and neither did you. We weren't there Those facts will come out soon enough. But some things DID happen to young children, and nobody can ever look past that.

Joe Paterno was a great coach and a great man who made a mistake. He is like the rest of us with our faults and demons. He is no different, except the fact that he was probably better at his job, than we are at ours. But we are all human, no matter if we coach football or clean up garbage on the streets. It is really sad to say that if Paterno had done a better job of picking up the smell on-campus, he wouldn't have suffered through the final 78 days of what had been a truly incredible life.

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