Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How about nobody writes about Joe Paterno for a while


There are way too many people out there acting like he endorsed child rape or something, people who want to brand him as only a half step worse than an actual pederast. Those tend to sensationalize the story of Paterno's passing by saying things like HOW CAN YOU CELEBRATE THE DEATH OF A GUY WHO WAS BASICALLY THE WORST PERSON EVER????? Those people are idiots.

On the other hand, people who insist that Paterno was a saint and that his gargantuan mistakes should not be held against him at all are equally idiotic and even more out of touch. Many of these people, like Ivan Maisel, have their fingers in their ears and are yelling LA LA LA 409 WINS LA LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU. It's fucking sad.

A man's death demands that we look to his life -- not just the last 12 weeks, swollen and inflamed by the heat of the vengeful -- but 62 years of coaching young men at one university. A legacy covers more than 12 weeks.

Yeah. It covers all 62 years, the last 10 of which Paterno spent with direct knowledge of Sandusky's crimes. And yet Sandusky's access to PSU facilities was never revoked. Paterno never did more with what he was told than talk to some higher-ups and call it a day. Fuck you, Maisel, for trying to frame the problem as being one that only matters since it came to light 3 months ago. It's nearly an implication that the real tarnishing of JoePa's legacy is that Sandusky was eventually caught. "A legacy covers more than 12 weeks." Yeah, no shit it does. Fuck you.

The crimes at stake here are two clicks past heinous. Penn State, not to mention the entire State College community, mishandled the Sandusky case in a way that will haunt town and gown for many, many years. People are angry. They want a pound of flesh.

Sure. And some of that flesh should come from the guy who was in charge of the football program this whole time, don't you think?

And that anger has fueled the pumps that continue to spew vitriol at Paterno, even as the justice system in Pennsylvania continues to exonerate him.

This is the most laughable sentence in the whole article. "Has the justice system charged him with a crime? No. Conclusion: LEAVE JOE ALONE, HE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG!"

The Sandusky case has rubbed raw all of us who have children, or once were children. Paterno, the most powerful man on campus, is one more person who looked and did not see, who listened and failed to hear.

He's one of the three or four most important and powerful people who looked and did not see, who listened and failed to hear. He's not some campus security guard who heard a third hand rumor that child rape was happening somewhere on campus and failed to unearth it. He's the guy who was told who was raping someone when and didn't do anything about it. Don't try to blend everyone at PSU who isn't Sandusky into one amorphous blob of "aw shucks, we done goofed, too bad!" It's pathetic.

But it should not cancel all that came before it.

No one worth listening to is saying it should.

It should zero out neither Paterno's six decades of achievement at Penn State nor his lifetime of leadership and beneficence at the university.

Notice which one is listed first. Say Paterno is at the pearly gates right now (or whatever your mind's manifestation of a place where you get judged in some kind of afterlife is, I don't give a shit) and whoever's working the door is giving him a hard time about how he mishandled this debacle. Which do you think he's going to bring up first, that he was a good leader who shaped and improved a lot of lives, or that he was good at getting other people to be good at a fucking sport? I hate to be preachy about it. But if you're someone who's very pro Paterno and you want to defend him from his attackers/celebrate his life, you'd sure as fuckballs better not start by bringing up anything related to football.

Yet a legion of men, who know him much better than any of his critics, continues to defend him. Some are gray of hair and round of stomach, others are younger than Paterno's five children. All of them wore blue and white. They arose to stand by his side when Paterno no longer could stand up for himself. Paterno was the coach who molded them. He instilled a beacon of light to guide them in their lives. He was the man who made them men.

All of that is very good and important stuff, and it's the kind of stuff that makes Paterno someone who will probably one day be remembered more for good than bad. At the same time, no fucking shit his former players are defending him. It's not exactly a slam dunk argument-ending accomplishment to point out that the guys who were recruited by him and lived and died with him for 3 or 4 or 5 years think he's great. JUST SO YOU KNOW, HIS FAMILY KNOWS HIM BETTER THAN YOU DO AND THEY ALL STILL THINK HE'S SWELL! THAT OUGHTA TELL YOU SOMETHING RIGHT THERE!

The Sandusky scandal has revealed that Joe Paterno missed in real time what may be seen so plainly in hindsight.

It should have been plain as fucking day in real time. That's the problem here.

The scandal has cast a shadow over a brilliant coaching life.

Stop bringing that up.

The 409 victories, while record-setting, are not the full measure of the man.

Jesus fucking Christ.

The young men he left behind, the campus to which he devoted his life, a campus whose leaders shoved him aside in the panicky, feverish days after the scandal broke,

Great drive-by pot shot at those on campus who realized "Oh shit, our coach could and should have stopped a bunch of child rapes and didn't. We're going to have to fire him I think."

also give testimony to the life of Joseph Vincent Paterno.

The whole of his life renders the seismology of modern-day journalism moot.

No, it's not moot. It's one aspect of his legacy. All the good stuff he did is another aspect. As time goes on the media and public will balance them. Paterno fanboys and people who hate ugly truths can say that the pesky media's insistence on reporting the scandal is rendered moot by all the good stuff Paterno did, but fortunately they're completely wrong.

The facts of a 62-year coaching career

Again.

were shaken. They did not topple over.

No, they didn't and shouldn't topple over. On the other hand, to the extent that they were shaken, they will probably remain that way forever (as they should). And the Ivan Maisels of the world will keep sticking their heads in the sand like Bob Costas any time someone says something bad about Mickey Mantle. Fucking sad.

Wow, this was really just an angry downer of a post. Can't wait to see what Simmons writes about the Super Bowl this week. Maybe if I beg and plead with him he'll do a whole mailbag about it (and Tom Cruise, and how good he is at gambling, and how much his readers love him).

5 comments:

Biggus Rickus said...

So about this sentence:

"The Sandusky case has rubbed raw all of us who have children, or once were children."

So...everyone? It rubbed everyone raw? That would have been more succinct.

Chris W said...

Nodding my head

jacktotherack said...

Biggus Rickus, I noticed that same thing. It looks like Peter King wrote that paragraph. Just mindless bullshit.

Great takedown Larry, I find it incredible that people like Maisel trivialize child rape by saying "Yeah child rape is bad, but look 409 WINS!! MEN MOLDED!! GREAT MAN!!" Fuck that shit, if anyone in journalism gave a fuck about honesty than columns like this chunk of shit would never get written. Anyone who wants to offer an honest portrayal of Paterno and his legacy will mention all of the good and bad that he did, not attempt to gloss over one or the other.

CHart said...

And don't you think it's a little inappropriate to be using the term "rubbing raw" when bringing up any child rape case?

Biggus Rickus said...

CHart, I didn't really want to think of that, but yes. Yes it is.