Posts Tagged ‘Joe Paterno’


These signs are common on store fronts.

These signs are common on store fronts in Happy Valley.

Let’s make one thing clear off the bat: This piece is not a judgment for or against the people of State College or Penn State. We’ve all read and watched plenty – probably too much, in fact – about the sexual-abuse scandal regarding the storied football program; we’ve all formulated opinions based on facts or allegations or emotions. That part of the story is essentially over, short of perhaps shaping future rules, laws or actions.

But Happy Valley hasn’t gone away, obviously, even as the media throng has moved on. That much was quietly yet overly clear – yes, a seemingly contradictory situation – during a weekend work visit, my first time there. I did not go out of my way to inspect every corner of campus or engage locals in discussion, casual or pointed. Instead, I just sort of walked around and observed – no assumptions, no judgments. (more…)


Welcome to this week’s links. Which are even more amazing than the last time we did this.

* Dave McKenna has a piece in Grantland about a 16-year-old who was caught cheating in chess. It’s really interesting. Also brought up a good discussion on a journalism board about using the kid’s name. If he committed a crime at 16 — and wasn’t charged as an adult — his name wouldn’t be published. Now he’ll always be the guy who cheated at chess.

* Well, New York City did it. They banned giant sodas. I wrote about this a few months ago. It was approved on Thursday and will go in to effect next year. How will I survive on 16-ounce servings? How? In 2004, the late, great Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece where he flaunted many of the silly laws that exist in New York City – taking your feet off pedals, feeding pigeons. Wish Hitchens was around to write about this.

* Who doesn’t like Christopher Walken talking about Christopher Walken things in a Christopher Walken manner?

* For Titanic fans who have long thought Jack and Rose could have shared a raft — meaning Leo wouldn’t die! — James Cameron says, no. Not possible. (younger readers, please note: Titanic the movie was not a documentary).

* In a retroactive addition to The Tapes, Jeff Pearlman wrote last week about the way he was treated after writing a biography about the late Walter Payton. Hint: It wasn’t good. This is relevant now, of course, because Joe Posnanski is taking all sorts of heat for his Joe Paterno book. Both situations are reminders of how, like it or not, journalists often become linked to their subjects.

* This week’s podcast of the week is more of a one-time thing than a true series, at least as far as we can tell. Regardless, it’s good as writer/TV personality/radio man Dan LeBatard welcomes in former NBA coaches and current siblings Jeff and Stan Van Gundy to discuss sports media and the Dwight Howard fiasco that cost Stan Van his job. It’s as close to no-holds barred as two guys who hope to have NBA future can be. LeBatard facilitates nicely. Entertaining and insightful. Here’s the link.


Welcome to this week’s links.

* Joe Posnanski’s biography of Joe Paterno comes out next week and it’s certainly one of the more anticipated books of the year, although for reasons far beyond anything Posnanski could have imagined. His original book about the beloved coach became impossible after the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Many people wonder how critical he will be about Paterno. In USA Today, Posnanski wrote about the challenge he faced.

* Crazy story about United “losing” a 10-year-old girl who flew to camp. Kinda makes you feel bad about complaining over lost luggage.

* Patrick Reusse wrote about the three Minnesota Lynx players who returned from the Olympics and are now prepared to chase a second straight title.

* Writers for The Simpsons picked their 10 favorite obscure characters on the classic show, and New York Magazine presents it in slide show fashion.

* What was TV reading this week? Hospital pamphlets. Over the course of three days, he suffered a weird allergic reaction, a skin infection on his face and lost consciousness at a football practice. Really. And now … he has to run a 5K in the mud in order to chronicle the experience for the Argus Leader. Here’s a background piece on the growing trend. This is shaping up to be plenty regrettable.


Welcome to our weekly links. By the way, I just started watching Game of Thrones, two years after most people discovered it on HBO (it’s okay, I’m always behind the times; it took me until 2010 to watch The Sopranos). The first season’s discs on Netflix now consume my life. So this is a short intro until I get back to the Starks, Lannisters and imps.

* Grantland ran a long piece on South Africa’s history in the Olympics, which, during the apartheid era, was no history at all.

* A sad story about a name from the past. Neil Reed was a scrappy guard for Indiana who was best known for being choked by Bobby Knight, an incident captured on tape. Reed, who became a high school coach, died Thursday at the age 36 of a heart attack.

* Chris Jones – former Fury Files guest – penned a good piece with the guy who sculpted the famous Joe Paterno statue.

* The always entertaining Drew Magary documented his quest to sing the national anthem at a sporting event.

* TV and Fury met while working in Fargo, as in North Dakota, a state that’s blowing up in both and good and bad ways due to an oil boom. Men’s Journal – yes, Men’s Journal – is the latest to chronicle the Wild West atmosphere.

* In other Olympic news, did you know that Adolph Hitler and the Nazis are behind the torch run? Neither did we until reading this piece by Yahoo! Sports. Hope we didn’t ruin your Opening Ceremonies experience.


Around 9 a.m. Monday, the NCAA announced unprecedented penalties levied against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. Within minutes, the figurative hand-wringing began on Twitter, which, ideal or not, is where millions of us go for real-time news and opinions.

The responses ranged from “The NCAA was too harsh” to “The NCAA was not harsh enough” – although usually in more colorful words – and just about everything in between.

In the event that you haven’t already died from an opinion overdose, here’s mine: There was no right response. Why? Because no punishment related to football or university life is appropriate for crimes of this nature. None. (more…)


By Rich A. Jensen
Guest blogger

So, the Freeh report is out, and according to it, there was a ‘failure of leadership at Penn State.’ Louis Freeh himself pulled no punches during his press conference, even invoking God in his condemnation of the corrupt culture there.

And for the rest of us not at Penn State, not alums of Penn State and possibly not even football fans, it’s been a fantastic, a titanic, opportunity to sit in judgment of bureaucratic nebbishes and an old dead coach.

I’m not here to defend any of these people.

I’m here to remind you that all of these people are people. Just like you and me. (more…)


Welcome to a Good Friday version of The Tapes. And now here are some links that have nothing to do with Easter.

* This week the National Magazine Award finalists were announced and Byliner.com put together the nominees and their stories. Here are the finalists in feature writing and here are the finalists in profile writing, which include a story by future Fury Files interviewee Chris Ballard.

* Here’s the strange story of a Moorhead woman who received a $12,000 tip as a waitress but then lost the cash as police believed it might be drug money. After the story became national news and people complained to the police – and wished death upon them, which is always a smart thing to do – the lady eventually got her money.

* Speaking of weird money stories, the tale of the Maryland woman who claims the winning Mega Millions ticket is hidden away in the McDonald’s where she worked continues to fascinate me.

* Dear Prudence: Why do you continue to publish obviously fake letters? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them and everything, but, still, why?

* The St. John’s football stadium – the Natural Bowl – now has lights. Odd. There are no plans for night games for the Johnnies, though there may be high school games played at Clemens Stadium and the lights allow for longer practices. Look out, Tommies.

* TV here. There was a time where I (sort of) wondered if the Natural Bowl was sponsored by Natural Ice. Sigh.

* Controversial piece in ESPN The Mag this week by Pulitzer Prize winner Don Van Natta Jr., about the ongoing saga at Penn State. Some have applauded the piece for exposing Gov. Thomas W. Corbett Jr., while others have said it’s too kind to the late Joe Paterno. Either way, it’s a fascinating read.

* And, finally, give the reading part of your brain a rest and enjoy this television story about TV’s family. Yes, it’s amazing to see how far his little one (born at just 24 weeks gestation) has come, but it’s still surreal to be a part of such a gut-wrenching reality.
Here’s the link: KELOLAND.com Video.


Sportswriting great Sally Jenkins scored a coup last week when she landed an interview with Joe Paterno, his first extended media interaction since being fired by Penn State due to allegations of child abuse by a former assistant.

I know, I know; hard to believe TVFury didn’t have the story first.

Regardless, we did our own research on the topic. Frequent guest blogger Dan Frasier dug up some old psychological studies to use as a jumping point for why Paterno didn’t take stronger action when the accusations against Sandusky first came up.

Here’s our conversation that in podcast format. Interesting stuff, if we do say so ourselves.

Here’s the link.


By Justin Wulf
Guest blogger

This isn’t how I wanted to make my TVFury debut.

I’d rather go on a 1,200-word rant about my love-hate affair with the NBA lockout, David Stern and everything that could have been done between July 1 and the mad dash both sides made in September and October. I’d rather break down the Five Stages of Grief and how they pertained to my begrudging acceptance that there won’t be a follow-up to one of the best seasons I’ve seen with my own eyes.

I’d rather talk (or write) about the passing of legendary boxer Joe Frazier and how even as an outsider I knew the guy was beyond legit. I’d rather tell you how I recently watched Fight of the Century on YouTube and got goosebumps, almost as if I was watching something out of American history, not just sports history.

I’d rather be going on about either of those topics. But I can’t.

Like most, I’m having a hard time pulling my attention away from the Penn State scandal and (what was) the wait-and-see-what-happens-to-Paterno circus that has developed. Make no mistake, I’m not downplaying this as anything short of a tragedy.

I don’t have kids. What I do have is a sister young enough to conceivably be my daughter, and a conviction that I don’t know my capabilities of restraint if anyone ever subjected her to anything similar to what Jerry Sandusky did. There’s a reason child molesters are looked down on even in the prison system. You don’t mess with kids. Period. (more…)


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.