While the Penn State scandal has been dissected every way possible, and as a sports fan and general consumer of news I have become semi-numb to this horrific story, there is something that still chaps my ass every time it happens: The constant statements and wayward defenses released by the Paterno family, and specifically the new family patriarch, Jay Paterno.
The complete, insular disconnect between the Paterno’s family desire to defend Joe Paterno and the fact that JoePa directly played a role in allowing children to be anally and orally raped for at least 13 years is incomprehensible. With every family statement or interview given by Jay Paterno, the Paternos are further driving a wedge between the tattered pieces of the late coach’s legacy, his supporters and any real good the man may have done.
The latest statements:
- On the removal of the JoePa statue: “Tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State Community.”
- On the sanctions handed down by the NCAA: “The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.”
Excuse me, but who the hell do these people think they are? Where does the Paterno family draw the overarching oversight to determine that taking down the statue does not serve the victims? Did they talk to the victims? Why do they think that is their judgment to make? And why do they think their input should have any bearing on the fact that the coach ignored multiple reports involving Jerry Sandusky and his inappropriate behavior toward young children?
Memo to Jay Paterno and family members: This IS NOT about you. Never was. Never will be. You can whine, complain, etc., about lack of due process. Here’s the trump card you will never overcome: Child rape. A monster set up shop for years in PSU’s football program. At a minimum, Joe Paterno and others enabled him. Every time a member of his family draws attention to the coach’s legacy and how it is being wronged, it smacks of opportunistic self-righteousness. Give it a year. Maybe a couple of years. I don’t know if people will ever look at JoePa as anything but the pompous, controlling, callous man he revealed himself to be, but trying to win this argument now is impossible.