There are times when I miss having a newspaper column. I’ve missed it quite a bit the last few weeks with a couple of larger-than-life stories circulating: Missouri going to the Southeastern Conference, and the hideous scandal at Penn State.
The latter is one of the most disgusting, disturbing and disappointing stories I’ve followed. Not because it might potentially cripple one of the nation’s best football programs, or because it will tarnish longtime coach Joe Paterno’s legacy.
It’s a terrible story because of the victims. The young men allegedly victimized are the story here. I say allegedly because Jerry Sandusky still has the right to a fair trial. All the evidence, and there’s a ton of it, points to the former Penn State defensive coordinator being a sexual predator who used his charity – Second Mile – to find his victims.
A week after the scandal broke, dozens of young men and boys have come forward and said Sandusky violated them. You name it, it’s in the grand jury report. Everything from inappropriate touching to using Penn State’s football facilities to sodomize pre-teens.
As I type this, breaking news scrolls across the screen: Paterno, in the middle of his 46th season as the Nittany Lions’ coach, is being fired. This just hours after he announced that he would resign at the end of the season, one in which Penn State is 8-1 and battling for a BCS bowl bid.
All of this a day after students flocked to his home to support the 84-year-old coach. Talk about misguided. Paterno may have been a great coach, but he completely failed as a man. Like many others, including his athletic director and president, Paterno could have stopped Sandusky years ago.
Paterno should have contacted the police in 2002 after a graduate assistant informed him that he’d walked in on Sandusky raping a boy in the shower facilities at Penn State. How many more children suffered as a result of this negligence?
Penn State’s solution in the wake of the 2002 incident? Tell Sandusky not to bring kids with him to the football facility. In other words, do your worst elsewhere. What a travesty.
Yet, you still read about poor Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who went to Paterno in 2002. He should have gone to the police. You still read about JoePa and his damaged legacy. He should have gone to the police. What about the boys and their damaged lives?
Penn State may never recover from this. Paterno’s legacy definitely won’t. For the next 50 years when he’s mentioned on TV, it’ll come with the tagline “whose legacy was marred by a child molestation scandal and cover-up.”
A small price to pay compared to damage that’s been done to the lives of dozens of young men and boys.