Jerry Sandusky Joe Paterno

January 24, 2012 by staff 

Jerry Sandusky Joe Paterno, What will be the first thing we think about when Joe Paterno’s name in five years? 10 years? 20 years? It’s impossible to properly discuss Joe Paterno. Impossible.

You can’t begin to capture the coaching career of the man. You can’t come close to describing the wide-ranging impact of this icon. And none of us can possibly understand what his silence over these past ten or fifteen years meant to the lives of young men who had their lives terrorized by Jerry Sandusky (allegedly).

Like most of you, I spent much of my Sunday morning and early afternoon watching the retrospectives of Paterno’s life on ESPN. It was very somber programming, as you’d expect following a man’s passing. But the sadness had less to do with the actual death and more to do with the fact that nobody really knew how to act. Were they sad that he died? Of course. But they were sadder still that he died under these circumstances. Instead of doing an unabashed tribute to the career of one of the greatest coaches any sport had ever seen, they had to state everything with this huge disclaimer. Paterno’s legacy has become a political hot potato. You can’t say anything about it without offending some side of the debate.

On one hand, you have the loyalists who absolve Paterno of any blame in the Sandusky scandal. Sure he could have done more, but don’t accuse him of these heinous crimes. Paterno was a great man and a great coach who did amazing things for Penn State and for humanity.

That’s one way of thinking. The other is a bit harsher.

Forget about the wins. Forget about the libraries and the scholarships and the endowments. And think about those kids. Were there ten? Twenty? Are there dozens of more that we’ve never heard about and perhaps never will? Those lives are far more important than any football games and Paterno’s silence allowed those lives to be ruined. Paterno positively affected thousands of young men during his coaching career. But he also allowed these young men to have their lives ruined before they had a chance to begin.

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