My Two Cents on Joe Paterno

Fictional high school football coach Eric Taylor once said, “We will all at some time in our lives, fall. Life is so very fragile, we are all vulnerable, and we will all at some point in our lives, fall, we will all fall.” Unfortunately, fiction is getting awfully close to reality. Joe Paterno is a football legend. There is no arguing that. He has won more football games than any other coach in history. He has been involved in college football in some capacity since five years after the end of World War II. He has had an epic career that ought to be commended for his on-field accolades. The revelations of the past week or so have uncovered a bit more cloudy judgment in his off-the-field doings.

But, sadly, dismissing Joe Paterno was the only thing that Penn State could have done.

Stories and allegations of criminal sexual abuse of children have been going through the Penn State ranks for quite some time now. The ball was dropped at absolutely every level of this institution. If you were Penn State though, how could you go into anyone’s home and seriously discuss their son or daughter going there? I understand that football is important, but as a college football coach, you are a mandatory reporter. Not a sometimes-reporter. Not a reporter-when-it’s-convenient. Mandatory. I can even forget the legal ramifications of this, but morally… How can this stand?

Sometimes not doing the right thing is just as bad as doing the wrong thing. Granted, we all make mistakes. But everyone here had years to say something. Say anything. And they failed to do that. Sandusky was indicted on 40 counts and yet he still had access to all of the facilities and brought kids around to games all the time, even after he stepped down from coach. There were years to stop this, and no one said a thing. Come on.

These thoughts are random and incomplete because I really can’t believe what’s going on. I’m watching CNN and Sportscenters coverage and just can’t believe it.

But if you’re the Board of Trustees of Penn State, how could you let Paterno and his staff take the sidelines this weekend?

I don’t think you could. When you’re the molder of young minds and young lives, character is one of the utmost important things. And Paterno dropped the ball. For years.

I just can’t get past that.

What do you think? Whether you agree with me, disagree with me, think I’m an idiot, whatever… I want to know your thoughts on this. It’s certainly a complicated thing. I don’t envy the position that the Board of Trustees of that school is in. Not good.

Cheers,
Eric

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Comments

  1. He 100% had to be fired. For those who think he should still be able to coach need to re-examine their priorities. 1) it’s just football. 2) Hes the head coach of a major program that for years prided itself on honesty and integrity…… that being said, he has to go.

    Honeslty, it’s hard to even understand and comprehend how something like this can happen.

    If you want even more disturbing new’s check out the link below…..

    http://www.nesn.com/2011/11/jerry-sandusky-rumored-to-have-been-pimping-out-young-boys-to-rich-donors-says-mark-madden.html

    • Thanks for the comment, Dan. If the story on that link turns out to be true, that is appalling. I’m with you. Football is a game, but this some serious life-ruining stuff that seemingly everyone in leadership at the college helped cover up. Sickening.

  2. what an outstanding post, eric

    anyone who starts off with a coach Taylor quote is genius in my book

    • Thanks, Bob. We could clearly do worse than be like Coach Taylor. Penn State clearly didn’t have clear eyes or full hearts, because they certainly are losing.

  3. i am a mandatory reporter and i have reported abuse to cps. it sucks. i hate it. i have never wanted to do it because i never want to believe that someone could actually abuse a child. but the fact is that it happens, and the only way to stop it is to ACT and do something. i totally agree that at every level, the ball was dropped. there is no ‘good’ decision that penn state could have made because the bad decisions were made years ago. and it sucks that joe paterno is getting the most press on it. but you know what must suck evenmore? being the parent of one of those kids, and watching college students riot over their football coach getting fired, instead of rioting in anger that kids were abused.

    • Excellent point, Amy. The riots just sickened me. Might be a good time to talk about the role of athletics in our society if a football program took priority over reporting all of this.

  4. Amy’s point is outstanding. Do the rioting students know that even thought they are directing their disproval for the dismissal for Paterno at the Board of Trustees that they are indirectly “spitting on” the families and children who were abused. It’s ridiculous.

    And on that note– I can’t help but think Penn State has to dismiss the whole coaching staff. Just think about how many freshmen will make a move and commitment to other Big 10 teams. Penn State football’s reputation is tarnished and the road to re-establishing the organization is through a clean sweep of the entire staff.

    AND that gets me to another question… Paterno was first contacted about Sandusky’s actions years ago… so what stopped him from discussing it with any of the other current coaching staff members? Who else knew and hasn’t admitted it yet?

    • Great point, Jake. As this goes to trial and more “who-knew-what” details are released, it’ll only get worse. No silver lining here. Just terrible stuff.

  5. Mike Friesen says:

    You are right eric, this is hard stuff. While people are questioning jopa, the school, and obviously mcqueery, I have appreciated paterno’s graceful exit. He has not stirred the pot. He has not taken the victim spotlight away from the true victims in this, the boys abused. And, he has tried to help in keeping the peace while the school feels his absence.

    I think he had to leave. I think anyone associated with it probably should bow out. Even if it was minor knowledge of it, there needs to be compassion towards the victims and their process in finding some form of justice with sandusky.

    • Great points, Mike. I have to remember that the belligerence of the students last night didn’t portray Paterno’s resistance. It should definitely be a complete turnover in coaching staff. Sandusky is the monter here, not Paterno. So hard to believe the number of people who kept this quiet. It’s the old quote, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Evil triumphed.

Please keep your comments positive. I reserve the right to delete rude or insulting comments. If your comment is critical, please make sure it is also constructive. Thank you.

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