To most people outside of State College, Pennsylvania or the Penn State family, those words came as no surprise after learning that Paterno (among others) ignored serious allegations against Jerry Sandusky, who apparently sexually assaulted at least eight (and presumably many more) young boys during and after his career as an assistant coach at Penn State.
However, inside the isolated community of State College and among the legions of demented Penn State zealots, the reaction was substantially different when Paterno's career ended Wednesday night. Which is to say, they completely flipped out and threw a hissy fit because the leader of their State College cult wouldn't get to coach another football game.
You don't need me to rehash the sickening details of Sandusky's "alleged" crimes - although if you haven't read the grand jury presentment I recommend you do so. It's not for the squeamish, though, so consider yourself warned. Sandusky's punishment is a foregone conclusion, he'll either live out the rest of his life in prison, or he'll take the easy way out and swallow a bullet. If you're a believer in the Code of Hammurabi, you're obviously hoping for the former, so that Sandusky suffers the same fate as as "Victim #2" tragically had to endure. There's one thing prisoners hate, and that's child molesters. There's also one thing they love, and that's shower rape. Good luck in there, Jerry, you F'ing monster.
Either way, there's no argument against the fact that he's 100% guilty, and that more victims will undoubtedly come out of the woodwork.
Where there is room for argument, at least among the Penn State loyalists who rallied around Joe Paterno this week (as well as the deplorable Sally Jenkins, who never met an issue she couldn't be on the wrong side of) is the role Paterno played in covering Sandusky's crimes, specifically the aforementioned "Victim #2" allegation in 2002.
To many, Paterno "did what he had to do" by simply taking what he heard from graduate assistant Mike McQueary and relaying SOME version of it to the athletic director Tim Curley and another school administrator, Gary Schultz. They will claim that simply reporting the allegations up the chain-of-command was enough and that Paterno's firing was undeserved and unfair.
(Every person mentioned in the previous paragraph is guilty of not doing nearly enough, for the record)
My issue with that argument is the idea that Joe Paterno had ANY superiors at Penn State or in State College. That entire argument is contingent on the insane and insulting premise that Paterno was just some middle-manager while Curley and Schultz were authority figures on campus.
For starters, I don't know too many middle-managers who have statues of themselves. (If that's going to be the custom, I'd like to know when I can expect my statue to be dedicated outside my office building on 6th Avenue.)
|Humanitarian, eh? Apparently 10-year-old rape victims aren't "human".|
The idea that Paterno answered to Curley is utter nonsense, given the fact that Paterno essentially hand-picked Curley to become the A.D. in 1993. The fact that "Joe-Pa" answered to ANYBODY in State College is equally ridiculous, when you consider the idea that on at least one occasion earlier this decade the Penn State administration asked him to resign, a request apparently greeted with a flat "no" in response.
|You're ruining my legacy, Jerry. Cut it out, pretty please.|
Of course, the same could be said for similar allegations against Sandusky in 1998. Those were also swept under the rug, and Sandusky was quietly ushered into "retirement" at the age of 55. I put the word "retirement" in quotes because anybody with the slightest bit of critical-thinking skills realizes what really happened. Paterno undoubtedly heard the allegations, told his longtime friend he would no longer be the coach-in-waiting, and probably told him to step down quietly in the hope that keeping Sandusky out of the spotlight would prevent any increased scrutiny that might lead to more revelations of sexual assault.
Even if that scenario isn't entirely true (and it is, as far as I'm concerned) it's an indisputable FACT that Paterno would have been aware of the 1998 allegations, which is why his lack of action in 2002 is even more unacceptable. Maybe you can chalk the initial allegation up to a hoax, but a second one, witnessed by an assistant coach, SHOULD have triggered a greater response from Paterno and everyone involved.
Instead, they sat on it, and incredibly even allowed Sandusky to continue to have access to Penn State facilities for ANOTHER NINE YEARS, right up until last Friday. By doing so, Paterno is among a group of people complicit in a cover-up that allowed countless other children to become a victim of Sandusky.
Read that last sentence over again, because it is the absolute truth. I'm not capable of doing the mental gymnastics necessary to suggest that Paterno was an iconic figure, yet somehow blissfully unaware and powerless to do anything about Sandusky's crimes. That's what Paterno's defenders would like you to believe. Never underestimate the power of denial.
For the record, there's plenty of blame left for McQueary, the eyewitness to "Victim #2" who failed to stop the incident in progress and went initially to Paterno first rather than the police.
That decision brings me back to my original point about the "cult" that exists around Paterno and the Penn State football program. McQueary was raised in State College, grew up on Penn State football, and undoubtedly idolized Paterno like everyone else in that town. Eventually he played QB for Penn State, and returned after a failed attempt at a pro career to become an assistant on Paterno's staff.
|He's also a goddamn ginger.|
To him, Paterno WAS the person to go to after witnessing Sandusky raping a young child in the shower, because Paterno was the ultimate authority in his world. If you're raised to believe that, and my assumption based on the reaction in State College earlier this week is that many people are, who else WOULD you go to?
Naturally, McQueary has been the target of death threats, undoubtedly from the sycophants who blame him for the end of Paterno's career as Penn State's head coach. He's still got a job and is apparently under protective custody, which leads me to believe that his testimony in the criminal trial is going to be worth hearing, and incredibly damning to Sandusky, Paterno and many others in the Penn State community.
We haven't even begun to scratch the surface of this entire ordeal, and we'll surely find out more during Sandusky's criminal trial and the civil suit that will undoubtedly be brought against Penn State by his victims. There will be no avoiding the truth for those who hold Joe Paterno in high regard.
The reality for those people will be harsh, and hopefully enlightening, though I doubt it. Regardless, the Penn State football program is finished, possibly for a generation.
You were Penn State.