Like many other people, I stayed up last night and watched the news conference announcing the firing of Joe Paterno as head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, news that shocked and shook a community to its core.
As a former player for Paterno at Penn State, I went numb for an extended amount of time after I heard the news on television — not because it wasn’t the right thing to do or because it wasn’t time for him to go. None of those reasons.
I lost all feeling because this was not how it was supposed to end for Joe Paterno. It just was not supposed to happen this way.
I have an enormous amount of anger and disappointment toward Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator who has been charged with 40 counts related to the sexual abuse of children.
I was taught never to hate a person but rather to hate their ways and pray for them. Well, with all due respect, I’m not really in the praying mood. In a moment of true honesty, I must admit: I do believe this is the closest I have ever been to hating someone.
To think that this one man’s actions destroyed so much. Why, Jerry? Why?
Joe Paterno could have and should have done more to protect those kids, but it is such a shame that this is what people will remember about a man who did so much for the advancement of children and people in general.
He donated millions of dollars to build a library for the university. He and his wife, Sue, have worked tirelessly to help nonprofit organizations and charities.
Sue single-handedly kept countless high-risk guys on the team eligible by giving her time to tutor them and keep them academically sound. The time and support they have shared with Special Olympics is unmeasured.
I know I sound like an apologist for Joe, and I’m sure many people, as they already have, will take aim to try to discredit what I say and attack me. And that’s fine by me.
I also know this is what the university had to do. Every single day Joe remained the head coach would yield only more confusion. There would be no happy endings to this story, and understandably so.
I am aware that innocent children suffered and that Paterno should’ve done more to fulfill his moral duties. But if people could see the deeds and the heart of Joe, they would see a man truly dedicated to helping others: men, women and children. I believe that.
Even though it may seem to sound like a contradiction, it isn’t. This man truly cared about others, and I’m saddened that a lapse in judgement could destroy everything Joe Paterno worked so hard to build.
It’s sad that one person’s alleged criminal acts could bring about the demise of a program and a great man.
It’s well-documented that Joe and I had our differences, and I really have no motive to defend him. But right is right, and wrong is wrong. And it’s just not right that it had to end this way.
Joe Paterno made a horrible mistake. Horrible. But at the same time Joe Paterno has done far too much for that to overshadow all of the tremendous things that he has done to change and impact so many lives.
Jerry Sandusky, those kids did not deserve this. The entire Penn State family did not deserve this. And Coach Paterno did not deserve this.