The Morning Call
To honor Joe Paterno is not to endorse child molestation.
Poring through pages and pages of statements issued upon the former Penn State coach's death, I found many celebrating Paterno's life and accomplishments. Big Ten, check. American Football Coaches Association, check. National Football Foundation, check. Coaches, players, politicians, check, check, check.
Nothing from the NCAA, though, until I sent an email. The response: "Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family and friends of Joe Paterno at the passing of a legendary football coach."
That seemed slight. The NCAA could do more than issue a one-sentence statement. After all, the inspirations for most statues are human beings.
Situation still too toxic
I was savaged by many in November when I suggested Penn State should decline a bowl bid. Turns out I may have been right as the lead-up to the TicketCity Bowl included a locker-room fight involving the starting quarterback and the game was a lackluster
But this is even trickier. Penn State will have a tough enough time honoring Paterno given the rift his firing caused in the family. The NCAA and others should stay out of the moment-of-silence business. It's just too sensitive. We still don't know all the facts. Let Penn State handle this one in-house.
This story is still too toxic. Give it time. Let Paterno rest in peace, and let's leave it, for now, at that.
Let Penn State do it
Sadly, only a few weeks after Joe Paterno's firing for failing to tell police about a child sex abuse allegation involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, most Americans do not have a memory of Paterno that deserves to be honored.
Yes, he coached Penn State for nearly half a century and won 409 games. Yes, he donated millions of dollars of his salary back to the university. But Paterno will be remembered for overseeing perhaps the biggest scandal in college football history more than he will for all of his goodwill and great victories.
It's up to Penn State and its fans to remember Paterno the way they see fit. The NCAA and other institutions should stay out of it.
Recognize the reality
Everyone is entitled to their interpretation of the acute mistake Joe Paterno made in the twilight decades of his life, when confronted with the horror of longtime aide Jerry Sandusky's
And it's probably best they do. Not because Paterno represented a soaring ideal, though it's impossible to dismiss his mission and his non-athletic contributions. No, you recognize him because invoking his name will recall the best of college athletics while reminding us to be vigilant when our character is tested.
Joe Paterno proved fallible, not criminal. That is a lesson in itself.