The next issue on Catch-up Monday is Sue Paterno’s anticipatory letter sent to the Penn State football family portending the release of the report commissioned by the Paterno family.
In anticipation of the release of the report commissioned by the Paterno Family to criticize the Freeh Report, the late Joe Paterno’s widow Sue wrote a letter to Penn State Football lettermen (i.e., the “Penn State family). Sue and the Paterno family are conducting an extensive campaign centered on restoration of the name and legacy of the dishonored coach. I could write a lot more, but I’ll publish the entire text of the letter Sue wrote, which does a better job of getting its point across than I ever could.
February 8, 2013
For the past fourteen months I have refrained from commenting publicly about the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the related actions by the Board of Trustees, Louis Freeh, the President of Penn State and the NCAA. There have been many times, of course, when I wanted to speak out, but I needed time to deal with the loss of Joe and I believed also that this was a situation that demanded careful, thoughtful, objective analysis. The last thing Joe would have wanted is for me to become just one more voice making claims and assertions that were unsupported by the facts.
The crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky are heartbreaking. As a mother of 5 and grandmother of 17, it is incomprehensible to me that anyone could intentionally harm a child. I think of the victims daily and I pray that God will heal their wounds and comfort their souls.
As this story unfolded, Joe and I believed strongly that the first priority must be to uncover the full truth. Despite the Board of Trustees’ rash and irresponsible decision to fire Joe without ever speaking with him, we remained hopeful that the investigation they initiated with Mr. Freeh, along with simultaneous investigations by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The Second Mile and other entities, would produce a clear and comprehensive record of what transpired. We also hoped that these investigations would result in an actionable set of lessons that other institutions could use to help prevent similar tragedies from unfolding. Sadly, neither outcome has developed.
When the Freeh report was released last July, I was as shocked as anyone by the findings and by Mr. Freeh’s extraordinary attack on Joe’s character and integrity. I did not recognize the man Mr. Freeh described. I am here to tell you as definitively and forcefully as I know how that Mr. Freeh could not have been more wrong in his assessment of Joe. I knew Joe Paterno as well as one human being can know another. Joe was exactly the moral, disciplined and demanding man you knew him to be. Over the years I watched as he struggled with countless personal and professional challenges. Never – not once – did I see him compromise his principles or twist the truth to avoid bad publicity or protect his reputation. Joe was tough, sometimes difficult, always opinionated and extremely demanding. He was also scrupulously honest, rigidly moral and absolutely unafraid of the consequences of doing the right thing.
After the Freeh report was released I knew immediately that the situation demanded further review. Unfortunately, the Board’s response was to panic again. They embraced the report without reviewing it. They never met with Mr. Freeh or his investigators. They asked no questions and challenged no assertions. Although they never officially voted to accept the report, they endorsed its findings and allowed the NCAA to impose unprecedented sanctions. To claim that this ill-considered and rash process served the victims and the university is a grave error. Only the truth serves the victims. Only the truth can help prevent this sort of crime from occurring again.
Although it was not something I ever imagined doing, I directed my lawyer, Wick Sollers, of the King & Spalding firm in Washington DC, to undertake a review of the Freeh report and Joe’s actions. I told him to engage the best, most respected experts, to take whatever time he needed and to go wherever the facts led. Sunday morning at 9am we are releasing the full Report by Wick and his team of experts. The report and additional information will be available at Paterno.com.
I will not attempt in this letter to summarize the Report of the experts except to say that they unreservedly and forcefully confirm my beliefs about Joe’s conduct. In addition, they present a passionate and persuasive critique of the Freeh report as a total disservice to the victims of Sandusky and the cause of preventing child sex offenses. I hope you can take the time to review the report and share it with friends and family.
In closing, I want to address two issues that have come up frequently over the last year. First, some critics say it is no longer appropriate for me or my family to comment further on this case and that the Freeh report and the actions of the NCAA should close the book on the Sandusky scandal. This cannot happen. The Freeh report failed and if it is not challenged and corrected, nothing worthwhile will have come from these tragic events.
Second, there has been endless speculation about what my family and I ultimately want to achieve. Is it the return of the statue? The restoration of Joe’s wins? His name on the football stadium? On this point I also want to be clear. Joe Paterno’s legacy wasn’t a statue, a winning record or public adulation. He was grateful for the many accolades he received but he never believed they defined his life. His legacy is his family and you his players. How you live your life speaks louder than any report. The great fathers, husbands and citizens you have become fulfill the dreams Joe had. All that we want – and what I believe we owe the victims, Joe Paterno and everyone who cares about Penn State – is the full record of what happened. On this point, I know the advice Joe would give. Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid. Do the right thing. And make sure your actions serve the greater good. This is the path I will continue to follow.
I thank you for your support and kindness. My heart and home will always be open to you.
Inasmuch as statues, names on stadiums, 409 wins, etc., etc., etc. pale in comparison to a man’s lifetime of work sullied by a rush to judgment, I firmly believe that Sue’s aims are pure, and I don’t think she will be able rest until she accomplishes this final objective for Joe.
What about “the vvvvvvvvvvviccccccccctims”? Sure, Joe could have done more, had he really known what was going on. Did he know? I don’t think he had any idea. What Sandusky was doing had to be beyond Paterno’s wildest imagination. Beyond any of our imaginations. Admit it. It is easy to sit on your ass and say what you would have done if you were Joe in that situation. Hindsight is always 20-20. But I’ve got news for you, buddy, if you’re spewing that kind of crap: 1) Joe was one of a kind, you aren’t Joe, and you’ll never even be close to his stratum, 2) you really have no idea what you would have done in that situation, you hypothetical-spewing, smug hypocrite, and 3) you don’t have the slightest idea of what you’re talking about. You’re just “pretty sure” or “almost positive” because you read it in a blog somewhere or on ESPN or in the CDT. They don’t know, and neither do you. So, can it!
It feels good to rant, even though I’ve been down that road before. As I’ve mentioned frequently in the past, writing is therapeutic for me; even if it is traumatizing for you to read it, I’d never have it any other way!
Stay tuned to the Turkey. I’ll be presenting my observations on the Sollers Report today, all 238 pages of it. I’ll be logging much bathroom reading time in the interim.