Paterno's legacy can never be the same

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by DALE HANSEN

WFAA

Posted on July 12, 2012 at 10:40 PM

That child abuse scandal at Penn State, which so many loyal to that university wanted to believe was only a Jerry Sandusky scandal, are being told now the scandal goes from the university president to the legendary football coach, Joe Paterno.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, after an eight-month investigation, 430 interviews, a review of more than three-and-a-half million e-mails, documents and notes, said university officials, the president, athletic director and Paterno himself covered up the child abuse to protect the football team.

Freeh said Paterno was an integral part of the decision to conceal what they had known for more than a decade, and allowed Sandusky to continue preying on young boys.

The family of Joe Paterno said it's impossible to accept that he or the university would protect a child predator to protect a football team.

But what other possible explanation can there be? A misunderstanding?

No.

Sanduky was allowed to retire in 1999, was paid a nice check to go, and no one believes he wanted to quit.

He continued to be a part of the Penn State family, brought boys on campus, sexually abused those boys on campus, and Paterno covered it up.

This is another part of the tragedy; Someone thinking that protecting a pedophile would protect the integrity of the program you had worked so hard to build.

Paterno and the others sacrifice the kids; nine- and 10-year-old boys who didn't have a voice, who didn't know where to find the help they needed. And when someone could have stopped the abuse and stopped Sandusky, they didn't... to protect a football team.

There's no shame in learning that a man you thought you knew, a man you trusted and respected, was not the man you thought he was. We do tend to blame the people in charge for the faults of the people they hire, but it's an argument made with a simple mind.

The only real blame and shame that anyone shares in the Sandusky scandal is their role in the cover up.

There's a statue of Joe Paterno on the Penn State campus, and now many people think it should come down. If only he had reported the monster he considered a friend, we would have built another one.

There are people saying now that Penn State's football team should receive the death penalty that SMU did.

The NCAA is quick to act when you pay a player, buy him a car, find out he got free tattoos for a jersey (another cover up that didn't work, incidentally). But a university that protects a pedophile?

Well, the NCAA doesn't know how to handle that.

Joe Paterno received his death penalty from lung cancer in January of this year. His legacy, and the reputation of Penn State, will die a slower death.

It really is true what the English philosopher Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

And these supposedly good men did nothing.

Joe Paterno spent 61 years of his life at Penn State, the head coach for 46. He won a record 409 games and two national titles, and it's not nearly enough to make up for what he did protecting Jerry Sandusky.

A retired Penn State professor said this report doesn't negate all the good things Paterno did.

Yes it does, sir. Yes, it does.

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