I don’t have the words.
“We are deeply ashamed.”–Ken Frazier, PSU Board Of Trustees member, July 12, 2012
If you are a Penn State student, alum, or fan who isn’t rushing to take pictures at the Paterno statue, or camping out to “protect” the statue, or claiming Bobby Bowden only wants the statue down because he’s jealous of Paterno’s wins, or threatening the mother of one of the victims, or insinuating that Paterno was some form of deity, or hoping Tim Tebow rapes a child, then this writing isn’t aimed at you. We, the rest of the football-following world, feel for you. It stinks that you are caught in the middle, proud of your alma mater, but feeling some combination of anger, disillusionment, sadness, disappointment, and betrayal from Joe Paterno and PSU in general. It’s not right that you’re linked with these lunatics, but don’t blame the rest of us for that. It’s not our insular school culture that created these people.
No, this is written to the apologists, the ones who rioted in November, the ones with their heads in the sand in July, the ones who nitpick the Freeh Report. You are the ones who need to understand a few things about “outsiders” and how we view this whole mess, so listen, and listen well.
First, you need to understand that contrary to what many of you think , we don’t necessarily take every word of the Freeh Report as Gospel Truth. Like you, we don’t think it’s perfect, but unlike you, we didn’t need for it to be perfect. The Freeh Report merely gave official-sounding validation to what the rest of us suspected all along: that Joe Paterno was an active co-conspirator with Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and Graham Spanier, and probably was the leader of the pack when it came to not reporting Mike McQueary’s 2001 allegation. Most of us didn’t really want to believe that JoePa enabled a child molester, but we were pretty much there before the Freeh Report was released. A former FBI Director saying the words that we’d all thought merely served to solidify the suspicions we’d held since the scandal broke in November.
Second, you need to understand that we believe to our core that you don’t remotely “get it.” Greg Doyel of CBS Sports said it best in this article:
…every second that the statue stands with its acid-churning words — “Joe Paterno … humanitarian” — is another second that we think, no we know, you still don’t get it.
If you got it, you wouldn’t be resisting. You would be advocating for the victims, not for the man who very likely was #2 only to Sandusky in culpability for the torture that those little boys endured–at least the ones after 1998.
Third, you need to understand that “outsiders” comprise more than 99% of the college football world. It doesn’t revolve around you or your program. Many of you act like the opinions of “outsiders” don’t matter to you. The culture of handling things within the Penn State Family is what got you into this mess; it’s precisely what allowed Sandusky to keep raping little boys on your beloved campus. You would do well to heed the words of those of us who aren’t so emotionally tied to the situation. Because we’re not, we can see the obvious truths that you evidently cannot.
Finally, and most importantly, you need to understand that we don’t want to hear much of anything else from you right now. We don’t want you to tell us of all the good things he did. We’re simply not interested. We don’t want to hear about how much he cared because he took time to talk to you about your studies on campus, because he didn’t care enough to take time to see if that little boy in the shower with Sandusky was ok, or even who he was. Anything you say besides some variation of one thing simply makes you look like an idiot to us.
What’s that one thing? It has already been said. But since you were likely too busy frothing at the mouth over the Freeh Report when it was said, here it is on video for you. Watch this over and over until you have it memorized. The next time someone asks you about the scandal, this is what we expect you to say, and nothing else:
That’s it. “we are deeply ashamed.” Nothing else. Not another word. No apologies. No arguments. Nothing. Like your fellow college football fans, you revel in your school’s greatest victories. You cannot now attempt to distance yourself from it in its worst failure. We refuse to accept “Yeah, WE won, but THEY enabled child rape.” Repeat after me:
Until you convince us that you are deeply ashamed about your callous behavior towards the victims of your former Defensive Coordinator, enabled by your former Head Coach, then your school and its fans will be pariahs of the worst order for a very long time. And if you can’t say with an honest heart that you are deeply ashamed, your best bet is simply to shut up. Anything else other than some variation of “we are deeply ashamed” merely solidifies our view that you have horribly misplaced priorities.
On the day before the Freeh Report will be released, the Paterno family released a letter that they claim JoePa wrote. It was published at FightOnState a short while ago. There’s much that’s troubling about this. First off, if it was written by Paterno, it seems highly unlikely that they just happened to discover this letter on a forgotten thumb drive in the last few days. A far more likely explanation is that they released it as a follow-up to their family statement from last night a part of a pre-Freeh damage control effort. So that leaves us only a few options as to how this got out. So, did Paterno tell them to release it at the darkest hour, did they hold onto it “just in case,” or did they make it up on their own and send it out today? None of these options cast the family in a positive light. Are there other options?
EDIT/UPDATE: One sportswriter who covers PSU has already called the authenticity of the letter into question:
Doesn’t really sound like Joe in his column, but, whatever, his name is on it: bit.ly/P0ZsVB
— Nate Mink (@MinkNate) July 11, 2012
EDIT/UPDATE2: Just discovered where the editor of a local newspaper in the State College area has expressed similar doubts:
@GregPickel Interesting read. Doesn’t read like something Joe would have penned, but who knows at this point?
— Chris Morelli (@ChrisMorelli) July 11, 2012
Sure, there’s more evidence to be released. Undoubtedly, the Freeh Report will point the finger of blame in varying degrees to Curley, Paterno, Schultz, Spanier, and others. Yes, there will be wide-ranging blame–not just a throwing of Paterno under the bus as many Paterno loyalists seem to believe. However, common sense and the facts we know should already tell us all that we need to know about one man’s culpability and decision-making in all of this. I’m not talking about leaked emails from his so-called superiors or infighting with a former VP For Student Affairs, either. There’s much about those incidents that can be debated. Motives and innuendo aren’t 100% clear. However, there is one undeniable fact–one that hasn’t seen much discussion in the mainstream media–that should have evoked great curiosity from the time of November 2011 grand jury presentment, one piece of curious and unrefuted evidence that should raise eyebrows all around.
Joe Paterno hired Mike McQueary after the infamous shower incident.
Consider that for a moment. A grad assistant comes to you with a story that your long-time assistant was doing something inappropriate, “of a sexual nature,” with a young boy in the showers in your locker room. Do you believe him? How do you respond? There are only two options: either Paterno believed McQueary’s story, or he didn’t. Paterno met his legal obligation by waiting a few days so as not to bother anyone one the weekend (his own admission,) but did he believe McQueary? I ask because the answer to that questions puts two possible chains of events in motion, neither of which makes any sense.
OPTION ONE–Paterno believed McQueary.
Plausible and reasonable possibility. I can see why, if you’re Joe Paterno, you believe Mike McQueary. He’s your former QB, by all accounts to this point a generally respectable guy. He grew up in State College and loves Penn State. As far as you know, he has no reason to lie. I wouldn’t fault Joe Paterno for believing Mike McQueary.
However, if he believed him, then why would he let Sandusky hang around his program for 10 more years? Why would he not follow up with his so-called superiors? Why would he allow him to bring little boys around PSU for 10 more years? If he believed Mike McQueary, then his responsibility as a human being is far more than just “I sent it up the line to my so-called superiors.” If he believed McQueary, then his actions were deplorable.
OPTION TWO–Paterno did NOT believe McQueary.
I can see why, if you’re Joe Paterno, you do not believe Mike McQueary. Jerry Sandusky is a long-time coach, co-worker, and trusted aide. How could he possibly be guilty of such a heinous act as this young man is claiming? I wouldn’t fault Joe Paterno for NOT believing Mike McQueary.
However, if he did NOT believe him, then how on earth did he hire someone that he believes has falsely accused a man of child molestation??? If he did not believe Mike McQueary, then McQueary should have been released from duty as a grad assistant on the spot, certainly not allowed to be a member of the staff for the next 10 years. If he did not believe McQueary, then his actions were deplorable.
There have been some indications that McQueary’s hiring has been examined by the Freeh team. We’ll know their conclusions around that tomorrow, but regardless, we don’t need the Freeh report to tell us that there’s something terribly wrong about the interaction and subsequent Paterno response. And that hasn’t changed since the Grand Jury report.
In order to re-establish PSU as an institution of integrity to be respected by all, the school must, in the strongest of terms, denounce the actions of Tim Curley, Joe Paterno, Gary Schultz, and Graham Spanier in 2001. The most visible reminder of their tacit support of these men is the statue of Paterno. It simply must come down. Further, all buildings and institutions bearing any of these names should be renamed immediately. More to follow…