History should not remember the late Joe Paterno fondly.
The former Penn State coach of over 60 years is an accomplice to what Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky did in sexually molesting children for over a decade. He never did anything about it by hiding all those emails. He never addressed what Sandusky did when people felt compelled to complain to him over the years.
Paterno was busy protecting Sandusky rather than taking action for the kids who were scarred from the experience. He was more into protecting the brand of Penn State football to get caught up about what his defensive coordinator was doing.
In a report that Louis Freeh wrote in his investigation of the Penn State football program, he mentioned that Paterno and Penn State officials knew what was going on in 1998 when Sandusky was taking showers with young boys in the campus. That report is an indictment of that program and the people that run it.
Paterno should have addressed this when it happened. For him to think people would forget, it shows he was insensitive about those innocent kids. He had the nerve to be arrogant about the whole situation by thinking Sandusky would never be caught.
If anything, Paterno is as bad as his trusted assistant for letting this go on for as long as it did. He would likely be in prison just like President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley , vice president Gary Schultz and Sandusky with evidence being against them.
Even in Paterno’s last days, he was defiant to the bitter end — he was in denial. He claimed he wished he could have done something about it when he had his opportunity to do so for a long time. He insulted people’s intelligence by claiming he never knew what was going on. The Freeh Report said otherwise.
It was one thing for Paterno to not want to retire when it was time years ago, but it was another thing to cover everything up and lie about it. This is something no one should forgive no matter how much he accomplished at Penn State. Sometimes, it’s not about wins and losses; sometimes it’s about doing the right thing. This was about a head coach that should have been a leader of children in crisis. He failed to fulfill his obligation, and that is something people should never forget.
From this seat, Paterno is not an icon after overseeing a corrupt program. For all we know, there may be other stories about him when it comes to cheating and breaking rules in college football. It’s hard to trust him after these heinous incidents.
It’s hard to think most normal people will remember Paterno in a positive light anymore. This shouldn’t be about winning national championships or winning Big 10 titles. Achievements are forgotten when a head coach fails to adhere to ethics. It’s hard to support a guy that broke the law basically and try to be above everything.
I cringed when Penn State fans were defending Paterno yesterday on Twitter and on sports radio. Some felt he was a victim of what has gone on. This is nonsense. There is nothing to support him after this.
Penn State has so many things that they have to do right, and they can start by removing Paterno’s statue. There is no way the university should honor a coach who was an accomplice. A coach like Paterno shouldn’t be honored for looking the other way while breaking the rules. It is tough for the university to do after what he meant to the university by creating a successful football program, but it’s the right thing to do.
Paterno has no one to blame but himself for people remembering him differently. No one should feel bad, either. This was his doing, and he has to be accountable for his actions.