Sign up FAST! Login

Rick Reilly: Joe Paterno's True Legacy - ESPN


Stashed in: The Sporting Life, Football, Truth, Ethics, Consequences

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

It's unusual for ESPN to take such a strong stand against someone.

It serves the gravity of the situation.

I know Spanier, and Curley, and the BoT and how they operate... They're pinning this on the dead guy. JoePa should have done more, and he admitted so. But he wasn't around to defend himself to Freeh's investigation, so everything may just be true, but I have no doubt it's spun to make him look more culpable than he is.

That is both terrible and highly plausible.

It's all very, very sad.

No sub-adolescent child was ever lured to Penn State by Spanier, Curley, and the trustees. No child was ever told they should be honored by the attention paid them by Spanier, Curley, and the BoT. No raped child who found the courage to come forward ever had it suggested that they must be wrong about what had happened to them because Spanier, Curley, and the BoT would never do anything like that.

The aura, the glamour, the name used to conjure those children to the showers... there was ultimately only one, and it was Coach Paterno's. He should have protected his brand more assiduously from those who used it for the worst of ends. Now it's in ruins, but he did the opposite of protect it when he was clearly the one with the power.

In the end, the inescapable fact about Joe Paterno and his stooges is that they did not want to know the truth. If you believe the truth will exonerate your friend... or if you just aren't sure what the truth is... you investigate further. You let trained investigators do it because you are obviously biased and scared and conflicted. When the best excuse even Paterno's family can come up with is that he "wasn't fully aware what was happening", that tells you that he didn't WANT to be fully aware. He just wanted the problem to go away.

The only good I can possibly see coming out of this mess is that every human being who is even remotely a mandatory reporter should take a good hard look at their responsibilities and liabilities now. They should conclude that even if they would rather not pick up that phone and call the cops on their trusted friend -- and who WANTS to do that?!?!? -- they even more don't want to end up a byword for criminal cowardice like the leadership of Penn State. Problems like child rape don't go away. Make it simpler on everyone: call the cops and let the trained investigators do their job. Maybe in the long run, this hard lesson will be Paterno's true legacy.

Joe Paterno was not a monarch. Spanier, Curley and the BoT were not his minsters, nor his stooges. They were his employers, his bosses, and unlike many football coaches (Tom Osborne, Bo Schembechler, Lou Holtz, Barry Swizter, Bobby Bowden, and caricaturized all over our culture e.g. Revenge of the Nerds) NEVER lorded it over the campus nor flaunted any power.

It was the BoT who vested 100% of it's powers (incl. it's police powers!!!) in one man, and that one man was Graham Spanier, NOT Joe Paterno. It was Spanier's policies which put fundraising above all other concerns, not Joe Paterno's. It was Spanier who shoved this under a rug, not Joe Paterno, and it was Spanier's decision to keep allowing Sandusky access to PSU facilities after the 1998 incident, NOT JOT PATERNO.

JoePa is as culpable as everyone else in the chain who didn't tell Graham Spanier and his culture of coverup to go fuck himself, and he was the only man with the social power to do so and not get fired (or not get disappeared like County DA Ray Gricar). But make no mistake, that criminal cowardice emanated first from 201 Old Main.

I don't know anything about Graham Spanier, except that he was the President of the University and so at the operational level the buck should have stopped with him. HOWEVER the Freeh report as mentioned in the ESPN article unequivocally states that "Spanier, Schultz and Curley were set to call child services on Sandusky in February 2001 until Paterno apparently talked them out of it". That's what I blame Coach Paterno for the most.

Also, Paterno's actions when this all came to light suggest that he DID rather think that he was outside the control of the authorities. He did everything in his power to retire with dignity and a golden parachute, and seemed literally stunned to be fired. As far as we know, he never admitted any true culpability and continued to spout the line that he was confused, in the dark, and misled. He didn't stand up to the ultimate test, and thus he showed what his true character was.

See.. I don't believe ANY of that nonsense. I know how Spanier, et.al. operates. I have literally watched the man lie to my face about something for which I was present and had first hand knowledge of; one of the most brazen liars I have ever had the misfortune of interacting with.

Because of that man, Graham Spanier, Penn State is a thoroughly corrupt institution at all administrative levels.

For that reason alone, the Freeh report cannot be trusted. If Paterno were still alive, able to participate in the investigation, and specifically to defend himself, then I could consider Freeh's investigation to be fully impartial and canonical. However, the Nittany mafia rises again and pinned everything they possibly could on the dead guy.

Make no mistake, they are doing everything they possibly can to protect themselves in all of this, and the full truth will never come out.

You May Also Like: