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3 Reasons Why Joe Paterno Is Pissing Me Off From Beyond the Grave

Or, 3 Reasons Why Everything He Said In This Letter Is a Pile Of Self-Serving Crap

I’m making a disgusted grimace at this picture right now (courtesy of this article).

1. He’s still putting football first.

Paterno’s priorities? Like, seriously out of whack. Instead of taking this final opportunity to admit to, apologize for, and perhaps slightly rectify his mistakes, he’s still just trying to promote his sport. He claims that “this isn’t a football scandal” and urges us not to let the ugly affair tarnish the accomplishments of Penn State players. Hey, JoePa—why don’t you point that finger the other way? If the amazing success of your team motivates you and your administrators to hush up child rape, that *makes* it a football scandal. You don’t need to worry about anyone else doing the tarnishing—you unfairly involved your players in your disgrace and cast a shadow on their accomplishments all on your own, so I know you are not lecturing the rest of us on the injustice of this situation. All the finger shaking in the world won’t change the fact that you put your program over the welfare of defenseless kids and those football victories are forever stained by your mistake.

2. He’s still minimizing the suffering of Sandusky’s victims.

Abuse has a ripple effect. It starts, of course, with physical assault. Then, like endless waves in a dark sea, come fear, humiliation, shame, powerlessness, the loss of objectivity and self-respect. Victims become depressed and isolated, overwhelmed by helpless despair. Their main obstacle to escaping abusers and finding healing is silence: lack of awareness and education, lack of support for speaking out, lack of acknowledgement and validation. Paterno could have been a powerful advocate for these kids—a lifeline for those too victimized to stand up to Sandusky on their own. If nothing else, he could have used this letter to openly admit his role in the affair and give these people some small measure of justice and support before his death. Just imagine what it might have meant to have Joe Paterno’s public sympathy and affirmation. Instead, his continued silence just adds to the victims’ personal and legal struggles. Atta boy, Joe, kick ’em while they’re down!

3. He’s still denying the true extent of the damage.

Paterno imagines he can convince us that this scandal doesn’t really reflect on Penn State—that somehow the actions of its top administrators and famous football coach have no impact on the institution as a whole. But this isn’t just misspent funds or a phony summer class we’re talking about here. What went on at Penn State was far worse: the pitiless destruction of innocent human souls under the knowing complicity of its most powerful leaders. Again, while it’s deeply unfair that the rest of the Penn State community must live under the pall of this scandal, it’s stupidly naive to insist that it shouldn’t affect the school’s reputation. Only someone who hasn’t bothered to understand the true horror of what happened—or the true consequences of his own cowardly actions—could make such a claim. Sorry, Joe, but this lame attempt to retroactively repair damage you could have prevented years ago only strengthens my conviction that, in the end, you were an arrogant and selfish man with little true regard for your players, your school, or your community’s children.

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