So, um, Penn State is in a sticky wicket, huh?
Grand jury details emerged over the weekend that a former longtime football assistant is accused of sexually assaulting eight boys. What’s more, legendary Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno may not have done everything in his power to make sure that justice was served.
It’s ugly, for sure, and complicated.
TV and Fury discuss it on this week’s podcast. Here’s the link. … And, now, here’s some writing to go along with it. Why the double dip? Because the TV portion of the conversation got really garbled for some reason, which is actually sort of fitting given the topic.
To me, the bottom line is this: It sure sounds like there was enough circumstantial evidence floating around the accused – years worth, actually – to have raised Paterno’s suspicions.
So even if he wasn’t given the most graphic details when told of the shower incident, it should have been enough for him to do more than just take the issue up the chain of command. He’s powerful enough to go to the authorities if not fully satisfied with the way his superiors handled things.
And why didn’t he? Because he knew what it would do to his program and/or his legacy and he deemed that more important than getting justice for the victims or preventing future incidents.
Again, if Jerry Sandusky had been behaving strangely for years and Paterno didn’t do anything about it until the 2002 situation, there’s a pretty good chance people would have called for his head, citing negligence at the very least. It’s reasonable to speculate otherwise, but I maintain this would have been the end one way or another.
Would that have been fair to JoePa? Not really. Think about whenever the first case of abuse took place: Paterno didn’t have anything to do with it. Nothing. Yet it might have ended his career. Might. That’s the key. The only chance JoePa had of surviving a sex scandal like this was to nip it in the bud, immediately. He didn’t. Maybe he was in denial. Maybe he was out of the loop. Maybe he believed too deeply in second chances.
But none of this has been fair to the up to eight victims and their families. This will be the end of Paterno’s career and – perhaps – his life. He’s long been pegged as one of those guys who lives to work, doesn’t have any hobbies. Let’s hope there’s a lesson learned in this – that protecting a legacy cannot trump protecting people, especially the innocent.