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The Devil In The Dark

"Total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims."

"Failed to protect a child predator from harming children for over a decade."

"...made a decision to actively conceal knowledge of the events."

"...avoid the consequences of bad publicity...."

These are part of the new epitaph of Joe Paterno.  Only it doesn't fit on a tombstone.  It is 267 pages long and took eight months to create.  Penn State University commissioned Louis J. Freeh, a former director for the FBI, to look into the Sandusky scandal and see where things went wrong and what could be done to fix it.

Like they didn't know.

Freeh's report is full of rights, lefts, and uppercuts to the jaw of a culture so steeped in "the coach is God" that, to this day, there are apologists spinning like crazy to salvage the legacy of a man who lied right up until the moment he died.  And all to protect his football program's reputation.

Earlier this week, the new Penn State QB was saying his team was going to use the scandal to motivate them to do well this coming year.  An epic cover-up, destroying the lives of God only knows how many boys (only eight testified, there's no way that's all there is), and it's going to be used to encourage the football team to win games.  You want proof sports scholarships are not awarded based on intelligence?  Here ya go, what are your other two wishes?

Other apologists are saying that Penn State should not be punished for this at all.  Because any punishment, such as ending the school's involvement in football, will punish innocent players.  "They had nothing to do with this!  Don't punish the innocent!"  So no punishment just so a bunch of arrested development teenagers can play a pointless fucking game.  You know how often I've been told other people should get a pass just because they are athletes or popular or whatever?  In case you haven't noticed, life isn't fair.  And now that it's going to be unfair to someone you like instead of someone you can say deserves it because they weren't born great like those you support are, you're complaining.  Shut up and take your medicine.

Apologists and deniers are particularly fierce right now.  Not only are there idiots saying that Paterno's good works on the field should be the focus, not what happened off, but part of the media is doing it, too.  Matt Millen of ESPN said, "To me, this shows that he was fallible (Oh, is THAT all it was? -- G).  He made a mistake (No, he didn't make a mistake, he committed a federal crime and tried to hide it.  This isn't something inspired by desperation, it was premeditated.  -- G).  Is his legacy spoiled?  Yes, absolutely it's spoiled.  But there's still a lot of good there."  Oh, that changes EVERYTHING!  Hannah Singer has a story where she's opposing a chronic child molester, and she comments, "So you're proposing a trade-off -- he did X amount of good and Y amount of bad.  And if X is bigger than Y, he should be allowed into Heaven."  Some things are so heinous, nothing will ever erase the stain.

But wait, there's more!  Big Ten Network refused to cover Freeh's press conference on Thursday.  "Our focus is to air, discuss, and analyze what happens relative to the field of play, which is what our viewers are most interested in."  Uh, that focus is what enabled Sandusky and Paterno to become the legends they didn't deserve to be.  P.S.  Your excuse is bullshit because, last November, you covered Ohio State introducing Urban Meyer and his $24 mil paycheck.  You either are a news organization or you're not.  Which is it?

It has been said that a man is not his failures.  Wrong.  Wrong.  Big time wrong.  Paterno lied the entire time.  He told the grand jury he first became aware of it in 2001.  No.  It was 1998 according to emails Freeh dug up like mob informant corpses in the abandoned field.  And Paterno hushed it up, referring to it in one email as a "liability problem".  He and his staffers gave the police no indication something was wrong.  So, that's perjury and obstruction of justice.  Not to mention aiding and abetting.

In the days following when the story broke just last November, the question was, "Did Paterno know all along?"  The answers were, 1)  Yes, he did, 2)  No, he is from a different era when that sort of thing just didn't happen, and 3)  DUH!!!  (It should come as no surprise that I was in the third camp.)  When a person has that much power and control over an institution, there is NOTHING he is unaware of going on.  And the proof was in the emails, which contradicted that Paterno didn't know anything and turned over the investigation to people he thought would follow up.  Emails which spelled out the priorities -- this had to be hushed up to prevent bad publicity from getting to the football program.

This wasn't the janitors who saw Sandusky with a kid and didn't say anything for fear of losing their jobs ("Football runs this university"), this was the boss.  The one who did run the university.  Joe Paterno allowed a sexual predator to destroy countless kids' lives because he was worried about his reputation.

He deserves to rot in Hell.

Paterno not only continued to lie until he died in January, determined to take his secrets to the grave, but his family has continued this stupidity.  A few days ago, they released a letter Paterno wrote, trying to guilt trip people into giving him and his "Saint Joe" legacy a pass.

It won't happen now.

Joe Paterno isn't even around anymore for us to kick.  He's dead.  Which means he can't spin his way out of this.  There's no "other side of the story" here.  There's no validation or justification.  He enabled sexual predation.  His Saint Joe rep was more important to him than protecting little boys that were trusted to him and his organization.

I've always been a bit uncomfortable with sports because they seem to encourage brand loyalty, group think, and cult mentalities.  People support the Chicago Cubs who bomb out year after year.  No complaints about when the team will get better, they just keep buying the merch and waiting for season tickets.  And here we have a football program that became bigger than the school, bigger than anything, and the cost to keep it going was the innocence of several young boys.

Don't tear down the statue of Joe Paterno.  Leave it there so people can throw things at it.

But tear down that stadium.  If sports are more important than humanity, it should be removed from life where it will never harm or corrupt another person.  We're quick to ban anything else that can lead to destructive behavior, from alcohol to guns to drugs.  Sports has proven to affect people just the same.

And take a moment to salute the boys who stood up to the monsters.  The university did everything they could to keep the truth from getting out.  They put themselves on the line and destroyed the monster and showed the world the ugly underside of it all.  I hope they find peace some day, and knowing they have helped save the victims that would have come after them is hopefully the beginning.

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