“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.