You can’t handle the truth!
All right. Enough, already!
I’m a Penn State homey, but I’m annoyed by all you alumni and fans who are hanging on to some kind of fairy tale notion that a Tinkerbelle will wave her magic wand, restoring all that we thought the revered Joe Paterno was and banishing this Sandusky nightmare from our memories.
Ain’t going to happen.
“What we all need to do now is to stand behind the Freeh Report’s recommendations for changes at Penn State, so that the appropriate steps are taken in order that such heinous crimes cannot be committed on campus without appropriate immediate involvement of police and state offices.” —TNT
We’re all saddened, angered, outraged, disappointed, shocked, and horrified by the findings of the Freeh Report. Yet there are still many who cannot commit themselves to believing that our sainted Joe Paterno could ever have committed such heinous acts as covering up for the convicted child rapist, Jerry Sandusky. I’m addressing this post to them.
I might lose some readers, but I want to give you some straight talk nonetheless.
This is denial, pure and simple. While most of us have transcended this first stage of grief in the Kübler-Ross model long ago and moved on through the rest of them after reading the Freeh Report, some of us must persist in flogging a dead horse ad infinitum. Those who do so are people who urged us all to wait for the Freeh Report, accusing the media and others of rushing to judgment on Paterno.
They told us that once the report was released, they would live with it. However, now that the report has been published, the same people are condemning its veracity, as if they know better sitting on their asses dreaming of Joe than the Freeh investigation did after 430 interviews. Those who call some of the report’s conclusions “laughable” ought to look in the mirror every so often, when they need a laugh.
You know what? They’re not going to do it over. No matter how much you piss and moan about the Freeh investigation, it is a done deal. There will not be another committee to investigate the university’s handling of the Sandusky caper. What’s done is done. Nothing will come of your feeble protests, especially when you impugn the character of the rest of us who cannot bring ourselves to suspend our disbelief long enough to side with you. You’re making yourselves look like fools.
How can you on one hand know that Paterno had an iron grip on the football program, while on the other, you believe that he can’t possibly have known about the tickle monster operating under the program’s auspices? Was he a lame leader who could not possibly have had any knowledge of the 1998 episode, when police were involved? Do strong leaders walk around with their heads up their asses? Whether you think there’s enough evidence or not, Joe would not have been Joe if anything that major would have escaped his attention. Deny it all you want, but the record will show that Joe knew.
Look, I know we all grew up looking up to Joe. My history with Joe goes back to 1964. Many of us regarded his moral judgment to be above reproach, and his honesty to be absolute. He was indeed a saintly figure. Anyone in power has to make decisions, and with major decisions sometimes compromises are required. One would hope that those compromises don’t involve breeches of moral or ethical propriety, but in this case they clearly did.
Joe made mistakes. He was human. Accept it. Free yourselves from the bonds of denial.
You can and should exhibit anger for a while. At Sandusky. At Joe. At the university. At Spanier, at Curley, and at Schultz. And perhaps at yourself for being so naive as to believe that the imperfect Joe was perfect through all those years you thought you knew him. He had a football program to sell, and keeping the public record clean was an important marketing tool for doing that.
Bargaining will do you no good. Nit picking details of the Freeh Report won’t help. You’re preaching to no one but the choir. The devil and the powers that can affect Penn State are not listening. There will be no exoneration for Joe. Forget about it.
Depression will set in when you realize that all is what it seems. You are powerless to change it, as are the bloggists and the media who are nit picking the Freeh Report. Penn State will not risk its future on defending Paterno’s virtue, which is, in my opinion, at this point indefensible.
Finally, you will reach acceptance. You know that life will go on at Penn State and you now believe that Joe probably did make a few very serious mistakes. The rest of us need to be patient while you wrestle with getting to this stage. We all reach it at our own pace. For all but the most paranoid, acceptance will occur and you will be at peace with yourselves.
What we all need to do now is to stand behind the Freeh Report’s recommendations for changes at Penn State, so that the appropriate steps are taken in order that such heinous crimes cannot be committed on campus without appropriate immediate involvement of police and state offices.
When powerful men become too powerful, they think they can do anything and they pay scant attention to extraneous issues surrounding their main thrust. That’s a good way to paraphrase Lord Acton’s famous dictum. The university’s board of trustees must ensure that there is never again an opportunity for one man to grow as powerful as did Joe Paterno.
Certainly, Joe did a lot of good for the university, on and off the football field. That is undeniable. He also screwed up, and did so in such a manner that young men will have to live with horrible nightmares and psychological counseling for the rest of their lives. This egregious series of screw-ups can and will offset much of the good Joe did; it can and will destroy the pristine legacy he would have left without it.
Joe Paterno was a mortal man, not a saint.
That cannot be denied.
So, please get over it.