Tuesday, January 24, 2012

There are so many stories

The Paterno stories are everywhere. I've really had little interest in rehashing all the same arguments about how much he should have done and how much his legacy has changed and yadda yadda yadda, but seeing as how the coaching icon of my/your lifetime is gone and has left behind this trail of disagreement about exactly who/what he was and how he should be remembered, I don't feel bad about lingering a little too long on this particular subject.

I've already said my bit, although I didn't say as much as I thought at I did at the time. In a paragraph: You can't separate Joe Paterno, the man who spent a decade harboring and doing essentially nothing to stop a known child rapist on his coaching staff (this lasted 10 years and was not a "mistake," as people like to call it), from JoePa, the "educator, coach, humanitarian" who was by all accounts a truly great human being. Those things can't be separated but also can't be reconciled, which has created this tornado of ... ummm ... something. His legacy isn't one or the other; it's both, and trying to define a weight to each is a subjective process that really doesn't mean much other than to say that you're considering* both parts, which is the important thing.

This is the part where I point you to the many (so many) other takes that are worth reading. I do this sometimes when I remember that there are people who are way smarter than me. So here we go.

Bury a man, keep the statue: Start with EDSBS, as usual. He says a lot of what I was trying to say far more eloquently than I ever could. I was planning to blockquote a paragraph here but can't pick one that's more telling than the others. Just read it.

The most important thing was Sandusky: Brian at MGoBlog goes with the inverted "put it all in perspective" angle. Trying to weigh various parts of Paterno's legacy might be a subjective exercise but is still something everybody's doing, and it's hard to disagree with this:
I just can't get over how it all came crashing down. Not only did Paterno and the culture he created shelter Sandusky, Paterno did not seem to feel remorse for half a second. Maybe this is just an addled old man speaking but it is appalling that this came out of his mouth at the impromptu pep rally at his home in the immediate aftermath of the grand jury's testimony:

"The kids that were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them. Tough life, when people do certain things to you. Anyway, you’ve been great. Everything’s great, all right."

Virtually the entire media edited Paterno's statement into a less awful version because their sense of propriety could not grasp the words that had actually come out of his mouth. This was Joe Paterno.
The man wasn't the image. Interpret that as you will.

Now is not the time for silence: Fire Jerry Kill finds the big picture, and I mean that in a global sense rather than a college football one. Interestingly, he literally separates his takes on Paterno the coach and Paterno the man, which I say can't be done but maybe is the best way to do it. I dunno. Takeaway:

... it’s not all bad. Penn State students did after all set up a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims of sexual assault on their campus.

Just kidding. It was in honor of the man who helped allow that sexual abuse to continue for decades.

If you need an example of why now is the right time to remind people just how unacceptable Paterno’s silence was, there you go.

There's also a haunting quote in there from 2005 that offers some insight as to Paterno's priorities (not in a good way). The headline of this could have been the same as the MGoBlog one, I think.

Joe Paterno's true legacy: I liked the '90s version of Rick Reilly. I stopped reading him a while ago since he's not particularly funny or original or insightful anymore and there are a lot of people who are all those things who can now publish their material in an equally visible place. Anyway, Reilly takes the devil's advocate angle with a "Paterno should still be remembered as a good man because of Adam Taliaferro" piece. I don't have any problem with reminding people of the good things but do take issue with his intro and what it means:
Maybe you will never be convinced Joe Paterno was a good man who made one catastrophic mistake, but do you have time for just one story?
First of all, there are 52 kids out there with far more disturbing stories that haven't been told. Secondly, allowing one of your closest friends to avoid prosecution for over a decade is not "one catastrophic mistake." That's giving the guy waaaay too much credit for something that has to be a huge part of his legacy and not just a footnote.

The tragedy of Joe Paterno: Gene Wojciechowski deserves some serious credit for doing what almost nobody else in the mainstream media was willing to do and finding the "dark side" of Joe Paterno. I highly recommend reading this purely for the information and quotes. Teaser: Paterno picked Tim Curley as athletic director, which is backwards and totally indicative of his authoritarian rule over the department. Great paragraph:
JoePa is three-dimensional, capable of extraordinary acts of kindness and charity as well as extraordinary acts of backroom politics. But he isn't who we thought he was.

Remembering Joe Paterno: The Penn State-centric view at Black Shoe Diaries reads like something that was written a year ago and never appropriately updated. There is one sentence that briefly addresses The Stuff ...
The scandal associated with Jerry Sandusky will remain a murky, dark chapter in an expansive 61-year career and life spent doing so much good for so many people in Happy Valley and beyond. However, this is a day to celebrate ...
... and no other references at all. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose, especially when that ignorance allows a continued deification that no Penn State fan seems ready to give up. His "murky, dark chapter" isn't something that can just be glossed over in lieu of the good stuff; it doesn't work that way.

Joe Paterno and human actions: A far, far more insightful take from one of the other writers at BSD. It's relatively short and therefore not suitable for blockquoting since I'd be taking like a quarter of the narrative; just read it and tell me the rhetorical questions and last sentence don't strike a chord.

*One last thought from me: Anybody who calls Paterno a "scapegoat" or "sacrificial lamb" or anything like that in defiance of his own comments and testimony immediately loses all credibility. It's time to come to grips with reality and use more than idolizing part of your brain. That is all.


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