Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The stain remains

No one wants to hear this, out there in Unhappy Valley. And you can't really blame 'em.

We are, after all, a people who like our narratives straightforward, uncluttered, clean and clear and not at all mucked up with the messiness of reality. And so, in Unhappy Valley, they want Joe Paterno to eternally be JoePa -- winner of football games and builder of men; educator first and athletic coach somewhere well down the line.

They want to put that statue back where it belongs in front of Beaver Stadium, and not feel a twitch of unease about it. And so the last thing they wanted to hear this week was this.

Which, if true, proves again that life, any man's life, is not straightforward. It's not uncluttered. It is, in fact, a mucky brew of good decisions and bad decisions and decisions made not for the common good, but for the sake of expedience.

That Joe Paterno would have brushed aside a 14-year-old camper's complaint that Jerry Sandusky had sexually abused him is significant not just for the date -- 1976, long before Paterno allegedly knew of Sandusky's sick predilections -- but for everything else about the man to which it gives the lie. The man who always said football was not the first priority at Penn State, in this case at least, allegedly made football the priority in as craven a manner possible.

He had a season to prepare for? Really?

If we can believe this account, and there's no earthly reason to doubt it, Paterno put football above everything, including the welfare of children. He knew, apparently. For more than a quarter of a century, he knew. And he did nothing.

Looked the other way. Pretended it wasn't happening. Did whatever it is a man has to do to avoid confronting an inconvenient truth, while Jerry Sandusky preyed on young boys for decades.

The same goes for former Penn State assistants Tom Bradley and Greg Schiano, who also knew what was happening according to the court documents. Bradley is currently the defensive coordinator at UCLA. Schiano went on to be the head coach at Rutgers and then with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You can find him in Columbus, Ohio, these days, where he's the defensive coordinator and associate head coach at Ohio State.

Think you've seen scandals in college football before? You ain't seen nothin'. It's going to be very interesting now to see how UCLA and Ohio State choose to address this.

I'm guessing they'll address it by not really addressing it. I'm guessing they'll talk to Bradley and Schiano, and then they'll come out with a statement backing whatever Bradley and Schiano tell them.

And that victim from 1976, who's in his 50s now?

He'll be betrayed yet again. So will God knows how many others across a quarter century.

And as for that statue of Joe Paterno ...

Well. It really should be restored to its rightful place.

A blast furnace.

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