Joe Paterno’s Legacy Cemented as an Egotistical Leader
There is no longer any vestige of altruism for the late Joe Paterno to hide behind. Paterno’s legacy is not just tarnished; it’s destroyed. Paterno was an egotistical leader of the Penn State football program, hell-bent on churning out wins at any cost.
Paterno’s name is so sullied, it feels disgusting to even utter his formerly beloved nickname. When was the last time you heard someone refer to the disgraced head coach as JoePa?
Paterno was not motivated by his deep-seeded loyalty to Penn State when he covered up the child sex abuse of Jerry Sandusky, his former defensive coordinator.
Joe Paterno did not protect a monster to save Penn State. Joe Paterno enabled a predator out of his own self-interest.
If Paterno was truly putting Penn State above God, family, morality, child victims of sex abuse and himself, why didn’t he retire before the grand jury indicted Sandusky?
Wouldn’t that have been better for the school than to have its current head coach involved in the scandal, forcing his firing him in the midst of a public firestorm of controversy?
Paterno testified in front of the Grand Jury on January 12, 2011. He knew that in all likelihood, the public would learn of what Sandusky had done and that his knowledge of those ongoing crimes would be put on trial in the court of public opinion.
At 84 years of age, Paterno could have retired without any suspicion – fans and media had been discussing his looming retirement for a decade. While the right thing still would have been to come forward about Sandusky’s crimes, Paterno also passed on the chance to put the school’s interests above his own.
Instead, Paterno chose to stay on, preserving his chance of becoming the winningest head coach in Division I college football history. He picked up the deciding victory on October 29, 2011.
Seven days later, Sandusky was arrested and the discussion of whether Paterno should resign, be fired or keep coaching began shortly thereafter.
Still, Paterno refused to do what was best for the school. Instead of stepping down immediately, Paterno offered to retire at the end of the season, forcing the school’s Board of Trustees to fire him as students and fans rioted in protest.
Again, Joe Paterno acted in his own self-interest. He made his priorities crystal clear. Paterno did put Penn State football above everything. That is, everything except himself.
To Paterno, his legacy was more important than the program, which was more important than God, family or child sex abuse victims.
That is indefensible on every level, and finally his inactions over 14 years were brought to light further today.
With the completion of the investigation by Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI, it is now clear that Paterno knew of allegations against Sandusky in 1998.
Still, Paterno allowed Sandusky to continue operating as a predator, with a base on the Penn State campus. More accusations against Sandusky surfaced in 2001, when Mike McQueary witnessed the abuse of a child in the showers.
Even with a pattern of behavior brought to his attention, Paterno did nothing. While others were involved and their inactions were equally vile, it was Paterno who ultimately wielded the most power in State College.
Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley don’t have statues. Spanier, Schultz and Curley didn’t oversee a program bringing in tens of millions of dollars a year.
Paterno had the indisputable power, but he did nothing of substance. Paterno went on doing nothing for years, hoping nobody would ever learn of what went on under his watch.
Joe Paterno was great at winning football games, but he wasn’t a great football coach. Coaches take care of their players. They’re charged with the responsibility of helping to shape the lives of the young people they work with and expected to set an example.
In the end, Paterno’s inaction ultimately rendered his wins and contributions to the community irrelevant and cemented his legacy as a villain.
Joe Paterno was an unscrupulous man who used his power to cover up vile acts so that he could win more football games than anyone before him.
Simply put, Joe Paterno was a bad guy.