Joe, You Fucked Up!

It’s taken me a great deal of time to process things regarding my alma mater. At the risk of enraging supporters of Joe Paterno and possibly losing some friends in the process, I’ve got to say this:

Joe, you Fucked Up! You failed to lead in a time when the university, students, and alumni needed you to lead most. I will never understand what happened here. It is incredibly painful for me to admit this, but it’s the truth. You were a man who spoke often of honor and integrity. And, I believed in you and what you stood for on and off the field. That loyalty is now shattered.

I’ll never know what motivated you to act the way you did. I don’t blame you in the way that the media and the board of trustees do, but you failed. You did not lead.

The emotions that I’ve felt are nothing compared to the pain and misery of the victims of Jerry Sandusky. But as a Penn Stater, the last 8 months have been some of the most trying and difficult times I’ve ever known. Penn State is a large part of my identity and I have loved the school and all that the school represents since the first time I stepped on campus.  I still love Penn State, and I’ll always cherrish the experience, but I’m truly sad over this scandal.

I’ve had almost all the emotions associated with grief. The grief stems from a failure at all levels of my school. It stems from the fact that I feel like I’ve lost something. And I have.

At first I couldn’t believe that Joe Paterno hadn’t done all that he could have or should have regarding the Sandusky scandal. Joe was always about virtues like honor, trust, integrity, and respect on and off the field. He was a hero. In my mind, he had to do the right thing. There was just no other option.

As I started to realize that perhaps, just perhaps, Joe had been human and had made some mistakes, I got angry. I’m still angry with Joe. Seriously, how the hell does this sort of thing happen?  How does a man who spent 61 years at the same institution working to better student athletes and coach a clean game fail to protect children?

I found myself bargaining next. “Maybe he just couldn’t believe what his friend of 30 years had done such a thing?”  That seemed like a plausible answer.  I mean, if someone came to me and told me that one of my good friends was molesting children, I’d be in shock.  I’d question it. I probably wouldn’t believe it.  But I damn well would investigate it.

After the Freeh report came out, I went through all these stages again. I got angry with Freeh and the Board of Trustees. I told with myself that this was all part of the smear campaign against Joe. And I spent the past week and a half depressed.

The depression stems from the fact that at the end of the day, Joe could have and should have done more. My hero had fallen.

I’m working on moving on toward acceptance, and part of that is accepting that while I am angry with the Board of Trustees, Spanier, Curley, and Schultz, I’m also angry and disappointed in Joe.

I still believe that there are more people, particularly on the BoT that should be held accountable, but I’m accepting that in the end, Joe wasn’t a hero.

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