It amazes me that even after Joe Paterno's death, people who ignore the facts of the case against Jerry Sandusky are still ignorantly bashing Paterno for another man's sins. It saddens me that so many people are blind media-fed sheep, who take on a lynch mob mentality at the very mention of certain crimes, stringing up even the innocent in the wake of their pitchfork and torches-carrying tar and featherings.
Today, after 4 months of backlash from students, alumni, fans, former players, anyone who actually read the PA Grand Jury Report, and anyone with common sense criticizing the cowardly Penn State Board of Trustees for firing longtime Head Football Coach Joe Paterno over the phone on November 9th, 2011, despite his being fully cleared of all legal wrongdoing by the State Attorney General, the self-preservation-minded board released a statement citing their reason for firing Paterno, "Lack of leadership".
By releasing this oddly timed press release instead of allowing the man to rest in peace, and allowing his family and friends to remember his legendary coaching career and even more legendary humanitarianism, the board has reignited the debate over Paterno's involvement on message boards, blogs, and social media sites the world over. Can we not let this issue rest? Hasn't enough been said already?
After a 46 year head coaching career in which Coach Paterno was known as a great leader, motivator, and mentor, showed class on the field and off, stressed fairness and academic achievement, and molded young men into future greatness in many fields beyond athletics, to call into question his leadership is a ridiculous smear campaign at best and a boldfaced lie at worst. To have expected a sports coach aged in his 80's to take the lead role in a criminal investigation is absurd. In this situation, how can the board accuse a man of "lack of leadership" who was: A. not in charge of the university or university security, B. barely still running his own team, C. no longer the accused's supervisor or even co-worker, and D. reported to his superior and the head of campus police what was reported to him?
Mike McQueary did NOT report sexual abuse to Paterno, but only a sketchy report of POSSIBLE "horseplay". McQueary didn't call it sexual abuse until he was interviewed by Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. And the very fact that McQueary was interviewed by the AD and Head of Campus Police about the alleged incident is BECAUSE Paterno reported it.
Do you tell your supervisor and the chief of police how to do their jobs? I doubt it. Would you follow up on a situation after being told it was investigated and no crime was committed? Nope.
This was an old man hearing a sketchy report from an intern about a former co-worker. He reported it. Those above him dropped the ball. Stop blaming the ONE person who did the right thing, just because he's the most famous name in firing range. Ever hear the term "scapegoat"? The board was being pressured by the fact-sensationalizing media to take action. Out of self-preservation and blame-skirting, they fed the most famous name they had to the ravenous media lions. Joe Paterno was sacrificed, because his sacrifice would make the biggest splash. The Penn State Board of Trustees distracted attention away from their lack of action about Sandusky, by taking the publicity-ensuring action of firing their legendary head coach. How can anyone trust these "Trustees"?
Child abuse is a horrible crime, and those responsible for perpetrating it and those turning a blind eye to it should be punished severely. Yet those people never seem to be mentioned in this story. People who report allegations, as Joe did, should be commended.
Defending Paterno has nothing to do with money, football wins, or university loyalties. It's about a man's career, reputation, life, and will to live, all being ruined over another man's mistakes. Joe Paterno was not a child molester, nor are his family and supporters, contrary to what can be read in a lot of people's online comments...
The questions that should be asked do not even involve Joe Paterno. Why didn't young athlete Mike McQueary physically stop an elderly man from molesting a child? Why is Tim Curley STILL employed by Penn State University and on PAID administrative leave? Why is the name Jerry Sandusky barely mentioned in the media when reporting on this scandal? Since the same Trustees who decided to fire Paterno were also in charge of hiring his replacement, did they have some personal or financial stake in those decisions?
The Penn State Board of Trustees' statement about Joe Paterno's "lack of leadership" is inaccurate. It is also unnecessary salt poured into not yet healed wounds. The man is dead. Whether his achievements in coaching, his humanitarianism, and his contributions to Penn State Univerisy mean anything to you or not, whether you agree that he did enough with Mike McQueary's allegation or not, whether you feel he should have been fired or not, please let Joe Paterno rest in peace, and allow his family to cherish his memory.
©2012 Denim McDemus