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Joe Paterno Statue: Choosing an "Undisclosed Location" Isn't Good Enough

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Joe Paterno Statue: Choosing an
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The effort to erase Joe Paterno from the Penn State football landscape continues apace, as the university continues to move on the since-removed statue.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, that statue has now finally been removed from Beaver Stadium (where it had been stored after being taken down), and its current location is undisclosed:

The 7-foot bronze version of Joe Paterno was loaded into the back of a truck and driven out of Beaver Stadium for the last time Friday morning, sources told The Inquirer.

Construction workers inside the stadium loaded the 900-pound statue into a truck that left the stadium for an undisclosed location, a sad end to a monument erected 11 years ago in honor of a man once revered as a "molder of men" before becoming marred in the child sex-abuse scandal that rocked his school.

The iconic statue commemorating the former Penn State coach had been stored inside Beaver Stadium after being removed by construction workers Sunday morning, until it was transported Friday.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

This will begin the debate anew as to what to do with the statue, and it's a debate worth having. Penn State is in a unique situation in that it has a monument that now carries a world of different meaning than it did when it was made—and nobody really knows if that whole context, that legacy is going to change again in the coming weeks or months.

But at the same time, just picking an undisclosed location isn't good enough. It conjures up images of the final scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," with the Paterno statue being nailed into a crate and put away in a giant warehouse, sitting in purgatory as his memory fades.

Penn State can do better than that. It can handle this statue situation openly and honestly. And the first thing it can do to provide some closure to this situation is ask the people who care most about Paterno's legacy: his family. Ask for their input. Hell, give them first dibs on the statue. But above all else, be the new, open Penn State everyone expects the school to be.

Meanwhile, the site where the statue had been was completely dismantled and destroyed by crews (which makes sense, because it looked horrendous without the statue and inlaid players), and according to the Centre Daily Times, in its place will be, well, trees:

Trees now line the area outside Beaver Stadium where the statue of Joe Paterno once stood.

The trees could be seen Saturday, a day after the statue was moved from Beaver Stadium.

The statue’s current location is not reported, and Penn State spokesman David La Torre said the university will not be answering any questions about it.

The impulse will be to refer to them as "JoePa's trees," or "sexual abuse awareness trees," or some other designation to add extra significance to what will now stand where Paterno's bronze likeness once did.

It would be wise to ignore that impulse. The trees don't have to have deeper meaning. They aren't going to fix anything. They don't have to stand for anything.

Sometimes a tree is just a tree.

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