Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sad Day in College Football

Last time I wrote on here was over a year ago excited about the start of football in Tennessee. I shared the story of being a 14 year old kid that skipped out on Disney World to watch the Miami Hurricanes play the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship.  What an amazing game and one of my favorite memories as a kid!  Joe Paterno was an icon even back then and Penn State won the National Championship under his coaching expertise.  As a kid who wished he would get big enough to play college football (never came close) it would have been a greater privilege to play for the legend that was Joe Paterno.  JoPa, as he was affectionately known as by all Penn State fans, was well respected throughout the college profession and he was known for running a clean program.  While Miami, SMU, Alabama, and almost every other Division I school went through NCAA investigations, JoPa was known for his clean record.  Young men went to go play for Penn State to play for the legend.  They don't put the players names on the back of the jerseys to emphasize the team spirit.  It was known as Linebacker U after about a ten year run of top linebackers drafted into the NFL.  Top NFL players were Nittany Lions and the name was an honor to be attached to any player.  As a kid watching football and as a fan of college football it was assumed JoPa would go out in his own time and be recognized as the best ever.  That day will never come. 

Now I am a father of a 12 year old football player.  The same age as some of the boys that went to different camps at Penn State that defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky ran for underprivileged kids.  The news that has come out over the last week are deeply disturbing.  Before children, my opinion may have been different, but I am a father first, and as a father I am disgusted.  Jerry Sandusky needs to spend a long time behind bars.  Had that been my son, I wouldn't think jail would be enough and he would be glad the police protected him before I could get to him.  As parents, our number one job is to protect our children.  As a society, our number one job is to protect our children.  Joe Paterno is both a parent and a was a respected member of our community.  I say was because he no longer has my respect.  Penn State University needs to fire every individual who has been a part of that coaching staff that had any inkling of an idea of what was going on.  To what level of knowledge Paterno had of Sandusky's behavior is unclear.  As a parent, as a coach of 6-11 year old boys playing football, and as a member of the greater society, if he even heard a rumor that such behavior was going on, it was his responsibility to report it to the authorities.  In my eyes, and in the eyes of many others, Joe Paterno is no longer the greatest football coach of all time.  He is a contributor to the destruction of who knows how many young boys lives and needs to go immediately!  How, as a father, and as someone who says he is interested in the development of young men, can Joe defend himself and think he should be on the sidelines this weekend?  He obviously doesn't get it!  He doesn't understand the disgust of parents across the country!  He wanted to hold his weekly press conference today as if nothing has happened and wanted to talk about football!  Seriously!  Its disgusting to me that the President of the University hasn't stepped down yet and that Paterno is still there.  Its disgusting to me that the fans of Penn State are supporting a coach that supported a man that molested children.  The whole situation is disgusting, disturbing, and appalling to me.  I can't imagine what those children deal with in life now.  As soon as Joe had any idea about any of this, he should have taken it to the police and held his staff member accountable.  This is an ugly story and I fear that it is only the beginning of an even uglier story that will tarnish Paterno's name forever.  

My heart goes out to the boys to which this atrocious act was committed.  They are now adults and are having to go through the worst experience of their life over again to hold this man accountable.  I can't imagine having to go through that again and feel for their pain.  As a father, I can't imagine having the weight of knowing that my child was abused.  Like I said, the man who did it would be glad the police got to him first.  I also feel sad for the football players who over the last 40 years have gone through the halls of Penn State.  I feel bad for the kids who are there now.  This is a black eye that isn't going to go away.  Schools that violate NCAA rules might get a championship taken from them, but over time people forget about the breaking of rules.  People don't forget about something like this.  Its going to get uglier.  There is no happy ending coming any time soon to Happy Valley. 


  1. You should definitely write more often. This is well written, and I couldn't agree more.

    The fact that he did what was "legally expected of him" does not trump his moral responsibility.

    As the parent of two abused children, I can assure you that there is no amount of time or therapy that can heal the type of wound left by this type of abuse.

    My only fear in life is that something like this happens to one of my kids. And honestly, I don't know if I fear it more for what it would do to them, or if I fear it would reveal a part of me I would prefer to pretend does not exist.

  2. I agree with Paul, you should write more often.

    I don't pay attention to college football and I have only heard bits and pieces of this story, so I had reserved my right to form an opinion. I heard some say that Paterno didn't know. Others said he didn't know much and told the president of the college what he did know about, thereby fulfilling his responsibility. And others, like you, have said they are disgusted at Paterno's actions almost as if he had himself molested the children.

    As the mother of a victim of sexual abuse, I know the pain that is associated with it. My child was a toddler when the abuse occurred and she has no recollection of it, thank God! I remember when it happened--taking her to the authorities, child protective services, a child psychologist. I remember the stories she told me, the stories she told the psychologist, the stories that still haunt me even though it didn't happen to me.

    If Paterno had any inkling that children were being abused, it was his responsibility to society to either investigate it himself or turn it over to those who would. Because he failed to do so, he might as well have committed the acts himself! When the police came to me and told me that they were reopening the investigation into Myles and Jessica's murders part of me wanted to say "no, don't" because I didn't want to go through it all over again, but then I realized that if I didn't do my part in putting this man away and he killed again, the victim's blood would be on MY hands because I was in a position to prevent it. It was my duty to society to reopen and relive those painful memories! I am grateful that I did because I know the world is a safe from that particular murderer. That should have been Paterno's position as well.

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Jeremy.