Penn State Pitchforks


I know it’s a big NFL weekend coming up and for many teams the playoff push is about to start in full force, and normally at this time I would post an article based on these facts.  Due to this week’s events in college football however, I think it would be difficult at best to post an NFL article pretending things are just fine and not mention the current problems at Penn State.

All this week I’ve heard and read about many, many people in the electronic and print media and on various forums wanting to blame everyone at Penn State for the heinous, and I DO mean heinous, crimes that “allegedly” were committed there.  We all know what these crimes were, and I don’t have to stomach to mention them again, so I’ll spare all of you the details.  What I would focus more on is the absolute “mob mentality” that seems to be taking place now.

Somehow people lose their way.  We all seem to forget how we reacted before when we were challenged by extreme incidents and the next time we’re presented with something similar we go back and do the same thing.  For whatever reason, there’s always a MASSIVE knee-jerk reaction when things “appear” to be so clear, so obvious to those not directly involved.  Columbine in 1999 and September 11th were, at first, misunderstood also.  Only later were the true stories revealed.  There’s no way of making the Penn State incident and subsequent firing of head coach Joe Paterno make sense right now either.  These are, at best, an unfortunate series of events that have come about “allegedly” because of one really, really bad guy that seemingly had many people fooled.

During times like these, there’s always plenty of people who are quick to blame but very few who actually have the full story.  Sometimes, even in this case, many of those involved don’t even have the full story.  Who’s to say what was known and what was not?  Only a few are entirely aware of the scope of this incident, and some of them have already been indicted.  Some may never be.

I think it’s entirely possible, if not probable, that Joe didn’t fully grasp what he was being told by the guy who “witnessed” whatever he “witnessed”.  If that is the case, and I am at least willing to hear him out on that, then I don’t know how he can be held liable for anything.  If he didn’t KNOW exactly WHAT was going on, he should not be held responsible for the acts of someone else.  It’s his university, it’s his program, but it wasn’t his crime.  It’s not a crime not to really understand what you’re hearing.

There’s so much that Joe has done throughout his life for that school, and so much GOOD that he has done for others, that he has at the very least EARNED the right to be heard. IF he had some prior history of being somewhat shady, then maybe not, but has he ever given anyone a reason to NOT believe he has good intentions?  I don’t know Joe personally and I’ve never even met him, but I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about the man.

The bigger problem here is that Joe is being lumped in with the people who apparently lied about it, and the guy who actually DID it. Everyone wants to armchair quarterback this like there’s an obvious answer, and everyone wants to look at it through the prism of time and history and judge based on what we NOW know, and what Joe NOW knows as if he always knew it.  I find it hard to believe if ANY person knew exactly what was happening then that they wouldn’t have spoken up more about it before now.  Don’t get me wrong now, I’m not attempting ANY defense for Joe here, I just don’t want to leap before I look.

If he did know about these things and did nothing, that would be one thing, one UNFORGIVABLE thing, but until we DO hear him speak – assuming he’s an accomplice in all of this is wrong.  I’m anxious to hear his side of the story. Remember this though: he IS an older guy.  He’s a senior citizen who’s been coaching at that university for longer than many of us have even lived.  He’s older than my own dad, and I know sometimes my dad doesn’t fully understand everything I’m trying to tell him.  If that’s true for my dad, then it’s probably true for Joe as well.  Let’s hear what he has to say.  He’s earned at least that.  If he’s culpable in all of this, it will eventually come out.  For now, let’s hold off on the pitchforks and torches at his doorstep.