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Who killed Joe Paterno? January 22, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Today, former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno died, ostensibly of complications associated with treatment for lung cancer, at age 85.

Prior to this past fall, Paterno—affectionately known as “JoePa”—was known as the winningest coach in major college football, with 409 wins, 37 bowl games, and 2 national championships to his credit. “He will go down as the greatest coach in the history of the game,” according to Urban Meyer, head coach of Ohio State’s football team and a strong contender for the title himself.

Paterno had coached for Penn State for 61 years, 46 of them as head football coach. A starring quarterback and cornerback at his own alma mater, Brown University, he had plans to go on to law school before his Brown football coach convinced him to come with him to Penn State as an assistant coach. Paterno never looked back, devoting his life—and millions of dollars of his own money—to Penn State.

But he never lost his own drive for academic excellence, and passed it along to his players, insisting that they pursue their academic studies along with their football-glory aspirations. As a result, more of his players graduated including 49 academic All-Americans. “Besides the football, he’s preparing us to be good men in life,” former Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny summed up. And what did his millions go to build at Penn State? A stadium? How about a wing of the university library?  

So why does his AP obituary notice read “Fired Penn State coach Joe Paterno dead at 85”? Why did the Big Ten ignominiously strip his name from its championship trophy, and Penn State drop plans to honor him by naming its football field after him? Why did columnists like TheAtlantic.com’s Andrew Cohen feel free to make statements, days before Paterno died, like “College football legend Joe Paterno gave his first interview about the sexual-abuse scandal at Penn State last week, portraying himself as a confused, sick old man… Sorry, Joe, no one outside Penn State is buying it.” 

Well, our friend Ben is buying it. And I think Penn State’s treatment of Paterno is disgraceful. This man gave up his personal dream and devoted his life to his teams and his adopted university. He has never been found guilty of a single shred of wrongdoing. Yet, after 61 years of whole-hearted service, he was summarily fired by Penn State’s Board of Trustees because of monstrous acts committed by another man, a man who, as far as I can discover, was not personally close to Paterno in any way. It’s as though President Obama was summarily impeached, dismissed from office in disgrace, and stripped of all his achievements because one of his staff members had been discovered molesting interns.

This really burns me up. There is absolutely no excuse for molesting anyone, ever, be they political interns or very young boys, the chosen prey of the sexual predator Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno’s defensive coordinator. Sandusky’s perversions not only extend over decades, but extend to helping himself to a ready-made supply of helpless boys via adoption and foster-homing boys himself and establishing a nonprofit, The Second Mile, specifically to, uh, assist homeless boys to “better” their lives. Assuming Sandusky’s definition of “bettering” meant being raped by him on numerous occasions, even while screaming for help in Sandusky’s own home while his suddenly-deaf wife lurked on the floor above. 

Is Sandusky a monster? No, not in our friend Ben’s opinion. From everything I’ve read, he’s a Peter Pan, an eternal little boy who loves the company of other little boys, but unfortunately developed the hormones and hormonal reactions of a grown man and turned them onto his little buddies. He’s one of those people society should have identified as a danger and controlled.

And in this case, society’s failure is everyone’s failure, not just Joe Paterno’s failure. JoePa was focused on football, on giving back to the university that had given him a job and a name. How likely was the devoted husband, father, and grandfather to have perceived that one of his subordinates was totally, hypocritally, tragically perverted? I suspect he had a few other things on his mind.

Critics of Joe Paterno will blame his death on lung cancer, ignoring how quickly it came on, how quickly it killed. Others may blame it on modern medicine’s shortcomings, since his official cause of death was from complications from treatment. But our friend Ben has two other suspects to propose: Jerry Sandusky, whose completely selfish, childish, childlike behavior failed to take into consideration the consequences to his wife, his family, his boss, and his college. And the Penn State trustees, whose cowardice in pinning this tragedy on Joe Paterno rather than taking responsibility themselves is not just inexcusable and unacceptable but makes them the true moral monsters, and cowards, of the story.

Shame! Shame on them! I pray that every one of them may be dismissed from their posts, and forced to spend their lives wondering if their own children have come to grief because of their personal cowardice. What have they done for Penn State compared to what JoePa has done? Hateful, craven, miserable bastards. Shame!!!

May we all try to see our way clear in this crisis. May we all learn from it. And may we all say a prayer for Joe Paterno, who in my opinion died from a broken heart and deserved better from us.



1. mr_subjunctive - January 22, 2012

*incoherent, sputtering rage*

Tell Silence I said good-bye.

Thanks, Mr. S.! Will do!

2. William - January 22, 2012

You have responded with a clear mind on this subject. It very sad how the judgemental, hypocrites have allowed a Commissioner Noonan to create a third law, Moral Law, in order to judge and convict a man while we allow the criminal law to give another man due process.
Joseph V. Paterno was a man with morals and standards that many Americans couldn’t wait to tear down whether justified or not. They felt great joy in implicating the man to a heinous act for it made Joe like themselves in their own twisted thoughts. It is a GREAT shame that anyone should place any fault or blame on the man for what was done and not done. Should I do my moral obligation by contacting the State Police about their investigations? After this post, I shall make a phone call “following up” on their investigations as per Noonan’s new Moral Law.
I will leave this subject with the thoughts of a man with morals and a total love of football. Joe was so obessed with the sport that he was afraid what would happen to his future if he should leave football. His focus, other than family, was the sport he loved and the players he considered family.

Thanks, William! At least, until this mess, he had a wonderful life.

3. William S. Scudder - January 23, 2012

Amen OFB.
Shame on the administrators, politicians and media who spinelessly used a good man’s name to further their own.
Thank you for standing up for a decent and honorable man. Penn State is blessed to have been associated with him. There are far too few people who shine as bright and true as Paterno. He will be missed.

Thanks, William, this is exactly the point I was trying to make. Too bad I couldn’t manage to say it as concisely as you’ve done here! No one has ever done as much for Penn State as Joe Paterno, and for them to turn on him in that craven way was (and is) inexcusable.

4. h.ibrahim - January 23, 2012

There is a problem with this anger! Yes indeed the trustees were cowardly about blaming JP, however, serving for so long and so well as psu coach does not absolve him from not paying sufficient attention to the continued, and reported problems of SJ. Suffering was caused through his neglect since that enabled SJ to continue. Is it alright to be a great husband, coach, father and grand father while causing the actual continued suffering of minors? What price oblivion? I do feel sorry for the ancient men caught, vilified and tried by Israel as genocidal Nazis, as they are wheeled in, near death, and I question the motivations of such trials since they too were often coerced into committing heinous crimes against humanity but they did commit them, perhaps they were busy with other things too—like following orders and taking care of their own children as they neglected jewish children. JP also committed a crime of seeming ignorance about such a problem and he enabled it through his neglect and many many children suffered as a result and continue to do so as adults.

Is it ok to say—“please continue to love me—even though I voted unfairly against you since I am just a young fresh asst prof who wants to keep her/his job?” and never mind the devastation I am going to cause you and your family? I really don’t think so.

Having said that it is fairly easy to see that in any univ or corporation most issues are related to NOT taking social responsibility but rather pushing the blame on ONE person as the trustees did and as Israel does or to my knowledge as young academics continue to do. No I do not think that just because at 85 JP was a confused old man with lung cancer, he was innocent, but he certainly evoked a pathos which is and should be endemic for all.

I don’t think the question “who killed jp?,” is appropriate but rather how could psu avoid such abuse?

Hi Huma! Please see comment #3 for my take on this issue. Joe Paterno gave his life, both figuratively and, at last, literally, for Penn State. And in many ways, Penn State owed its life, its reputation, and the loyal support of its alumni (and thus, its fiscal health) to Joe Paterno. He deserved their support and respect, a dignified exit, not to be kicked out like a dog as a scapegoat for a crime he didn’t commit.

5. The (Nittany) Lion Roars No More: Joe Paterno Killed By Fatal Combination Of Cancer, Karma, & Caring Too Much (About His Own Rear End) « Big Swinging Chicks - January 25, 2012

[…] assasinated” • “the stress associated with his sentencing and trial” • “broken heart” • “Rob Lowe” • “lung […]

6. Joyce at I Take Off The Mask - March 27, 2012

Thank you for sharing this, keep us posted with more relevant articles.

7. Jerry Martin - April 25, 2012

It wasnt JoePa’s fucking job to look after Sandusky. He hadnt been with the team in years. The U is big, many hundreds of employees. If anything, it was the AD’s fault for keeping him employed after being reported as a peepee squeezer. Think before u say shit about a man who had more admirable traits than 99% of the US population. Stupid fuck!

This is exactly what we were trying to say in the post, Jerry, just not in quite the same language! Thanks for agreeing. You managed to say in five sentences what it took us a whole post to write!

8. Ronald L. White,JD - May 5, 2012

Joe Paterno, not only was the winningest football coach of all time, he was a giant, among men, one of the finest human beings, to ever walk the surface of this world. I have nothing but the greatest affection for Coach “Joe Pa.” I live in Alabama, with its legendary football programs and coaches, but I put Joseph Vincent Paterno above all the rest, because he ran a clean program, scandal free, until the end. The scandal that we have all now heard about was not Joe Paterno’s scandal. Realistically, it was not even Penn State’s scandal. The acts of a rogue employee does not impute criminal, nor civil liability on Joe Paterno, nor Penn State. What was alleged, was not within the scope of the employee’s duties, as an employee of Penn State. Most of the alleged abuse took place in the home of the accused, in hotel rooms, and on several occasions, in the facilities of Penn State, and that was clearly not foreseeable, in the logical mind of the reasonable person. I like Penn State’s chances, in any litigation against the University. I hope they will not settle, but I expect that they will, just to make it go away. Sometimes, you must fight, in the interest of justice, because, if you do not, you make yourself an easy target, for more allegations, thus, more litigation.

I have written a book, “The Lynching of A Saint,” an ebook on Amazon.com. You may read the book for free, on the Kindle Lending Program, until the end of June. It is a 521 page legal analysis of the scandal, the grand jury testimony, police reports, timeline of the conduct of the accused, prior investigations, medical and mental data on pedophilia, and a prediction of the outcome of the trial,for the accused. I recommend that you read it, for free, if you have access to a Kindle. Most importantly, however, in the book, is that, legally, as well as morally, Joe Paterno did nothing wrong. There was no lapse in judgement, or otherwise, on the part of Joe Paterno. In fact, after the 1998 University Police Department investigation of allegations against the accused, it was Joe Paterno, who assured the accused, that he would never be on anybody’s long or short list, to succeed Coach Paterno, when the time came. The next year, 1999, the accused retired. As part of his retirement package, the accused was given professor emeritus status, for 32 years of service, which included an office, parking space, university internet service, keys to athletic facilities, keys to athletic buildings, and unfettered access to the campus, and said facilties. This was the portal for any misconduct, allegedly committed on campus. It was The Penn State University Board of Trustees, that conferred this honor on the accused, not Joe Paterno. This same vaunted Board of Trustees, who fired Joe Paterno. What iron, huh? They give the accused the “Keys to the City,” and when it backfires on them, they fire Joe Paterno. Is there no justice? You fire The Patron Saint of Penn State, who in 46 years, as head coach, generated more than $1 billion dollars for the University. Nobody will ever duplicate that feat again anywhere. Read the book, and weep. Weep for Joe Pa. Weep for injustice, the world over.

I have to agree. Now Joe Pa’s family is likely to lose everything they own in civil suits, after he gave everything he had to Penn State. This seems like the worst miscarriage of justice imaginable.

9. Ed - July 23, 2012

At least he didn’t have broken blood vessels in his rectum, courtesy of Mr Sandusky.

Right you are, Ed! To say nothing of permanent emotional scars.

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