How Coach Paterno Fooled Me and Everyone Else All the Time

Evan GreenbergContributor IJuly 13, 2012

Joe Paterno may rest in peace, but the abused children will never be able to rest.
Joe Paterno may rest in peace, but the abused children will never be able to rest.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I am extremely distraught about the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State and how it has impacted both college sports and our society, but the most appalling part of the entire situation is the lack of concern and compassion that Joe Paterno, Sandusky's head coach and mentor, showed for these boys who were abused by this monster.  

I feel completely hoodwinked, even though I have no right to feel this way since I wrote a positive article about Paterno in 1986 when I was Associate Sports Editor at The Daily Targum at Rutgers University. In one of the least critical, most glowing columns that I ever wrote, I discussed how Paterno's way had become a model for Rutgers University and how I hoped that coach Dick Anderson could hopefully become our Paterno.

While that role, the "Rutgers Paterno", was admirably filled recently by Greg Schiano for 11 years, Coach Paterno, after years of preaching about having genuine student athletes who didn't keep separate athlete dorms, graduated his players and kept names off the jerseys so that everyone would understand the team concept.  

As the Sandusky criminal activities began to appear in 1998, Paterno not only failed to confront his coach and friend, he protected him as he was harming innocent children.  As the father of a 12-year-old boy, this is incredibly disconcerting and tarnishes a lifetime of work that Paterno completed as one of the greatest college football coaches ever.

Unfortunately, I feel like I am kicking a man when he is dead and cannot respond.  However, he had his chance to respond in 2011 and couldn't tell everyone how sorry he was for everything that happened. At first, I thought that by alerting the Penn State police and his superiors, Paterno had done his job. But after reading about everything that has transpired, the coach had a greater responsibility to these young boys, everyone in State College and an entire nation. 

Child abuse is very serious, more serious than proper recruiting, academic integrity and on-field football success. This story transcends sports. I am appalled by Coach Paterno's negligence in this situation, and when I see his family defend is actions, it makes me feel like nobody in his family will even acknowledge that he had some level of culpability.

I am disappointed and I feel violated by everything that has happened. Unfortunately, my article praising Penn State is in print, and I wish I could rescind the column. This is a complete disaster, and no number of donations to the library by the Paternos could every rectify his stature at Penn State.