Joe Paterno cashed his first check from Penn State University eight years before I was born. In all my time on this earth that I have been aware enough to know what the game of football was, he has been the head coach of the Nittany Lions. And now he’s out. His career over, his reputation in tatters. The story broke earlier this week and has gathered sickening momentum with each new revelation. I have listened to the news reports, listened to the talk shows and today actually read the Grand Jury report. I would caution everyone to not voice an opinion on this subject until you have read that report. It will disabuse you of any notion that Paterno is in any way a victim in this story. Joe Paterno IS Penn State. He could have acted on information in his possession at any time since 1998 and saved what will eventually be over a hundred boys a lifetime of shame. On his word alone Jerry Sandusky could have been banished from the campus for life. But instead, a known pedophile was allowed access to the weight room as recently as last week.
It must be strange to be employed at a place where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a statue of yourself, or seeing a plaque on the wall testifying to your selfless generosity. For Paterno, it wasn’t possible to do so and maintain sufficient humility to realize his moral obligation to the victims of this tragedy. I feel nothing but pity for the man. I used to tell my Sunday School class of high school boys that it takes years of hard work and diligence to build a good reputation, but only 30 minutes to destroy it. Last week there was talk of a Congressional Medal of Freedom for JOPA, now, he’s lucky he’s not in handcuffs.
For me, however, the most troubling aspect to the whole sordid mess is the matter of Mike McQueary. It was he who walked into the shower in 2002 and witnessed Sandusky raping a ten year old boy. At the time, Mr. McQueary was a 28 year old assistant coach and former team captain of the football team. He was and is a large and powerfully built man. According to the Grand Jury, upon seeing this defenseless child being abused by a 58 year old man, McQueary turned and ran out of the building and called his Dad for advice as to how he should proceed. After this telephone call, the decision was made to go to Paterno…in the morning of the NEXT day. Mike McQueary not only still has his job, he will be coaching on the sidelines this Saturday as Penn State takes on Nebraska.
To any man reading this blog, I put this question to you. What in God’s name has happened to us? When did this country start producing such moral and physical cowards? Can anyone imagine a similar reaction from a robust 28 year old man stumbling upon such a scene in say, 1950? Would any of you need advice from your fathers if the ten year old in question were your son? Would any of you run from such horror if it were your nephew? There are many things that I don’t know for sure about myself, but one thing I’m positively sure of, if I had walked in on that scene, one of two things would have happened. Either Jerry Sandusky would have ended up in the hospital or I would have ended up in the hospital. No matter what, that child would have been freed from the clutches of that bastard, not because I’m some brave hero, but because I just walked in on a barbaric assault and as a human being, especially a man, I have an obligation to protect that boy!! If I had called my Father to ask his advice, my father would have disowned me and rightfully accused me of being a coward. The fact that McQueary will be on the sidelines this Saturday proves that Penn State is still utterly clueless.