Joe Paterno Speaks: Why His Explanation Doesn't Merit Sympathy

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IJanuary 16, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - NOVEMBER 08:  Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno leaves the team's football building on November 8, 2011 in University Park, Pennsylvania. Amid allegations that former assistant Jerry Sandusky was involved with child sex abuse, Paterno's weekly news conference was canceled about an hour before it was scheduled to occur. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Joe Paterno finally spoke out about the alleged child molestation going on within his Penn State program under his watchful eye, and while he is an old, sick man, I just cannot bring myself to have any sympathy for JoePa.

Please know one thing: I am not a Penn State "hater", nor do I have an axe to grind. In fact, up until this incident happened, there wasn't a coach on earth I respected more than Paterno.

Meanwhile, I do not have an agenda and I realize there is plenty of blame to go around.

Also, I would never celebrate a man having cancer and no, I do not subscribe to the theory that Paterno having cancer is some sort of "karma," payback being what it is and all.

No, that's just sick, twisted logic. But I'll tell you what I do continue to celebrate: That Paterno was fired and is being held up to scrutiny in his whole disgusting mess.

Paterno's excuses ring hollow to me and here is why. I understand that JoePa didn't commit the alleged crimes but I believe he was implicit in allowing it to fester because he did not do enough to stop it.

And before you lash out at me, understand that Paterno himself stated that he wished he had done more.

I know that hindsight is 20-20, so it's easy for me to sit back and judge what happened with the benefit of knowing what allegedly transpired. But Paterno was probably the single most powerful man in all of Penn State. 

Just how powerful was he? Consider this, from NBC Sports: "In 2004...when athletic director Tim Curley and president Graham Spanier reportedly came to his house and asked him to resign, Paterno kicked his bosses out the door and continued coaching."

So, the fact that all JoePa did when informed of this alleged egregious act by Jerry Sandusky was to pass the buck, infuriates me and convinces me that Paterno is guilty of being a child rape enabler.

I do not believe that Paterno wasn't aware of the 1998 incident when Sandusky was accused of suspicious frolicking (or what he calls "horseplay") in the shower with a boy by the boy's own mother.

At the end of the conversation, Sandusky reportedly said, "I wish I were dead." So do we, do we.

Soon after, Sandusky suddenly decided to "retire." That could have been a coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidences.

How else do you explain a guy who had been considered the heir apparent to the Paterno throne all of a sudden wanting to retire?

I will say one thing—I do believe Sandusky when he said he wanted to spend more time with The Second Mile. Except not for charitable reasons of course.

In fact, Sandusky must have believed that charity begins at home, because he certainly helped himself to a smorgasbord of child molestation candidates with his foundation.


So, you'll have to forgive me if I didn't shed a tear for Paterno when he came out and spoke to the Washington Post for the first time since being fired.

"I didn't know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was," he told the Post in an extensive two-day interview at his home in State College, Pa. "So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn't work out that way."

Well, he sure thought he knew how to handle it when this first surfaced 13 years ago. He figured he would tell Sandusky to go away and it would all blow over. At least that is what I believe.

There is simply no way that a coach with the stature of Paterno wasn't aware of the charges posed against Sandusky back in 1998.

But after all, he was Joe Paterno, the legendary football coach, and was invincible. He would be able to make it all go away. Except that in this case, it came back to bite him.

There is simply too much of this kind of protection and the masking of truth going on at many major universities because they feel they are above the law.

However, we're not talking about point shaving, cash payments to athletes or altering of grades here. We're talking about poor, innocent children being subjected to unspeakable acts.

I know what I would have done having been informed of the information that Paterno was given by Mike McQueary back in 2002. I would have confronted Sandusky and even if he said it didn't happen, I would have gone to the police.

Not the campus police, real police. They might not have followed up on the information, for they are at fault here too.

But at least I would know that someone outside of the immediate university—and yes, that includes the campus cops—were aware of the information.

Another thing I would have done is to immediately cut off Sandusky's access to the Penn State facilities until I was sure there was nothing to McQueary's report. And if you believe Paterno lacked the power to do that, I believe you are wrong.

To many, Paterno was considered the most powerful man in Pennsylvania. It is almost impossible to describe to an outsider what might Penn state University and Paterno have. Or, in Paterno's case "had".

The university is the second largest economy in the state.  The Pennsylvania Capitol's legislature contains 28 PSU alums.

If it wasn't for the Penn State football program and Paterno, there is no way PSU could draw such a significant amount of students from all over the state.

Yet Paterno continued to allow access to the weight room, locker room and showers to a man who was suspected of being a child molester.

Now, technically, Paterno did nothing wrong. He broke no laws. He did what he was supposed to do—he notified his superiors. But that wasn't enough in this case.

Another thing Paterno said that makes me uneasy is this. When asked whether it would have made a difference if McQueary had been more specific about what he saw, Paterno said, "I don't know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man."

Ah, so here is part of his defense. He is so old that he didn't know rape could be between anyone other than a man and a woman. I get what he's trying to do here.

But that nonsense doesn't cut it with me and it shouldn't with anyone. For a reportedly devout Catholic to not know about men having sex with boys doesn't pass the sniff test.

The Catholic church has paid millions in legal fees and payouts to victims and I just can't believe that Paterno had never read about this. It was all over the news and even discussed in churches.

Now, I mention this only to support my contention that Paterno must have heard that this sort of thing goes on, unfortunately. I myself am Catholic and take no pride in bringing this up.

Meanwhile, I'm sure that Paterno didn't intentionally decide to be an enabler. But that enabling allowed Sandusky to continue to use Penn State to lure kids into his sick world.

Make no mistake, Sandusky is the monster here—Paterno did not rape boys in the shower.

But he shouldn't get a free pass either, for he should have done more. Even he admits that. While we're all entitled to mistakes in life, this is one I cannot have any sympathy over.


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