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I was watching ESPN this morning after the Freeh Report came out, blasting Penn State officials, including Joe Paterno. Matt Millen came on to discuss Paterno, whom he played for in college and clearly admired and maybe even loved.

Millen said all the bad things people say about Paterno do not reflect the man he — Millen — knew. Millen said the university president dropped the ball by not going to the authorities. It seemed to me Millen was trying to lessen Paterno’s responsibility.

I disagree. If the school president didn’t notify the police, Paterno should have. He was a powerful man who prided himself on doing the right thing. But he did not do the right thing and he never helped any of Jerry Sandusky’s victims.

I keep coming back to Millen’s idea — the Paterno he’s hearing about now is not the Paterno he knew.

Well, maybe there was another side to Paterno no one, not even his family knew. Maybe only Joe knew that side and that side wanted to avoid bad publicity for his football program and he would skirt the law to do that.

I think of how Paterno died, so quickly after all this came out. I’m speculating here. But it almost feels like he willed his own death. He knew some awful truths would emerge about what he did and did not do and he knew his image would be ruined forever — he knew his responsibility in the mess. And he could not face it. He died.

I admit that’s a grim scenario. What happened at PSU was grim.

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Comments

33 Comments

  1. Tiburon Dave

    This story gets worse all the time.

    I agree with you they are all accessories and equally culpable.

    What I find completely mind numbing is they were willing to sweep child abuse under the carpet in order to preserve their reputations…all the while knowing that Sandusky was still an active predator…

    Heaven only knows what else they swept under there…

    July 12th, 2012 3:25 pm

  2. Stan

    Almost by the day Lowell,Paterno looks more and more evil. He had a COACH tell him he saw Sandusky having sex with a 9 year old boy. That’s the bottom line. Paterno chose to allow it as Sandusky repeatedly raped boys at Penn State knowing HE was safe..no hotel room clerk to be suspicious,no..he continued even as the schools only reaction after a decade and a half of raping one after another was to bar him for certain hours I think it was.
    Joe Paterno was a evil man..and when the crimes became known..what did he do? He sang a fight song and laughed and waved to the crowd.
    What kids? what ruined lives?..Football is king.

    July 12th, 2012 3:28 pm

  3. Dennis

    I don’t know what role Paterno should have played or what he should have done, but clearly he should have done more than he did. I supported Penn State when this first came out because in my book you are innocent until the facts show otherwise. Now that this report is out an example of Penn State should and will be made. Everyone needs to know and see first hand that there are consequences for your actions or lack there of. I would start by arresting the AD and the President of University at the time for aiding and abetting a criminal and for multiple counts of covering up a crime. I think the civil lawsuits that are sure to follow will take care of the rest.

    As for Paterno, I don’t know if he willed his own death because of what he knew. But I am quite sure that what he knew did not help him survive.

    July 12th, 2012 3:44 pm

  4. lameduck

    It was a conspiracy. Joe Pa didn’t say anything and from then on he had to keep covering it up. I agree that he valued the school’s reputation higher (football program) than the victim’s.

    The civil lawsuits will impact the school. I’m sure Penn State has insurance but the lawsuits will eat that up.

    Sickening…This is one *sports* topic that I need to move on from – but it won’t go away…

    July 12th, 2012 3:51 pm

  5. Sean

    The truths of this grim story must come out and those individuals involved must be held accountable. Paterno, however, is dead and no matter his involvement and wrongdoing, dragging a dead man through this over and over again does not sit well. I think you’re right Lowell, Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer and this story and these details quickened his death.

    July 12th, 2012 4:01 pm

  6. chris

    I’m sure Millen is in some denial regarding Paterno. In his prime Paterno was probably more of the stand up guy that Millan remembers. It seemed the last few years or more when Paterno was approaching 80 refusing to retire that the guy was getting really weird. I mean who wants to be coached by your grandfather? Paterno was obviously a very selfish person in his later years and he acted that way regarding the creepy coach he covered up for.

    July 12th, 2012 4:43 pm

  7. Steve

    I heard Penn Stater alum Matt Millen on ESPN radio and it made me sick. He tried to divert attention from the evil Joe Pa to staunchly defending the graduation rate, no NCAA violations, ad nauseum (literally!). The hosts, to their credit, didn’t go there – Buster Olney and later Doug Gottlieb vehemently insisting that, among many other things, Joe Pa’s statue be removed from the campus. Hopefully it will, but that’s the least of the consequences that need to be doled out in this most heinous crime. Out of this morass I will give the Penn State Board of Trustees credit – they hired a hard-nosed, very respected independent counsel to investigate this and gave his team full access, knowing that they, too, might be held accountable.

    July 12th, 2012 5:01 pm

  8. mike w.

    Unfortunately, the people of Pennsylvania are going to be on the hook for the ills of Joe Pa and the AD as well as the President and the VP. There is not enough money in the state coffers to compensate those kids who were abused numerous times and who will be scarred for life. Granted, the Paterno family donated millions of dollars to the university for a library and a variety of other buildings and programs, but was it done out of goodness of heart or from guilt for all of the years that he allowed Sandusky to molest those poor kids? Millen sees the side of Paterno which Paterno allowed him to see. No question, this is the greatest tragedy in collegiate sports history, putting point shaving in a back seat forever.

    July 12th, 2012 5:23 pm

  9. Frank in Minnesota

    i have no doubt that Paterno was a great coach at his profession and perhaps a great man…but he failed miserably when so many innocents needed him to step up and do thethe right thing for them, and for the morality of the whole thing…money trumped…so sad, and they all ought to be ashamed…

    July 12th, 2012 5:37 pm

  10. J Canseco

    They should take down his statue.

    July 12th, 2012 7:25 pm

  11. Stan

    The Paterno family has chosen to excuse instead of apologize,beg for forgiveness. They care more for image then to show real sorrow. They can go to hell.

    July 12th, 2012 7:53 pm

  12. B-Rad

    Matt Millen was the CEO and de facto GM of the Lions for just over 7 years before
    he was dumped to the great delight of Lion fans everywhere. The Lions at 31-84
    were 10 games worse than the 2nd worse NFL team during that period. Millen
    clearly was the worst NFL GM this millennium.

    Now, with this attitude about Paterno, I don’t think his problem was only his
    incompetence, but incompetence paired with delusional schizophrenia.

    They will take down Paterno’s statue, J Canseco, but they should leave it up
    and decapitate it.

    THIS is Paterno’s legacy!!

    July 12th, 2012 9:16 pm

  13. Johnc

    Matt Millen is a meathead.

    July 12th, 2012 10:18 pm

  14. John Sousa

    This is so much worse than any PED scandal, or recruiting violations. If the NCAA had any integrity, Penn State football would receive the death penalty. 10 Years, no football.

    July 13th, 2012 8:18 am

  15. KauaiRobert

    Geez, the man is dead!
    .
    What more do people want?
    .
    Could he have done more to stop the abuse?
    .
    Yes.
    .
    Was HE the abuser?
    .
    No.
    .
    The abuser is about to spend the remainder of his pathetic existance in prison being some big, hairy guy’s girlfriend.
    .
    AMEN TO THAT!!!
    .
    But what good would possibly come from removing Paterno’s statue?
    .
    To me, removing the statue is MORE of a reminder of what he did or didn’t do than simply moving on would be.
    .
    After all, the man can’t die twice.
    .
    Maybe the fact that he did die right after being fired is comforting for the victims.
    .
    If so, great; the victims deserve any comfort that can be derived from the fates of those involved.
    .
    Whatever else comes of this, Paterno’s career now has an asterisk 1000 times bigger than one on Barry’s home run ball.
    .
    I think that’s enough.
    .
    Let him rest in peace.
    .
    .
    .
    *ALOHA*

    July 13th, 2012 12:18 pm

  16. gary

    Millen is an idiot. NOt the Paterno he knew?
    Schocking.
    “Coach Paterno, how are you?”
    “Matt, doing fine, and my cover up of child abuse is perfect so far”.

    Penn State football—-gone.
    Players can stay at Penn State on scholarship
    if they want, or transer to another school, with no NCAA penalties.

    Yesterday listened to Rod Brooks on KNBR, give
    tortured reasons for leaving Penn State alone.
    Another idiot.

    July 13th, 2012 12:20 pm

  17. KauaiRobert

    The football PROGRAM did nothing wrong.
    .
    The FACILITATORS of the program are guilty.
    .
    They’re gone now as they should be.
    .
    For the sake of the innocent players past and most importantly present, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
    .
    .
    .
    *ALOHA*

    July 13th, 2012 1:18 pm

  18. GWHIZ

    It seemed like most missed the really significant part of your column. The untimely or was it timely, death of Paterno, and how he avoided the ramifications of this scandal. Very intuitive Lowell, thanks for the insite.

    July 13th, 2012 1:33 pm

  19. Tiburon Dave

    I’m forced to respectfully disagree with our friend from Kauii.

    Nike just took Paterno’s name off a building at their corporate headquarters. Ironically it was called the Joe Paterno Child Development Center.

    The statues need to come down. He wasn’t the man we thought he was. Some lines just can’t be crossed.

    As far as the program is concerned…it also needs to come down…the tail was wagging the dog for too many years…and through too many horrors.

    Penn State needs to get back to being a university and not an adjunct enabler to a football team.

    July 13th, 2012 1:42 pm

  20. Johnc

    These innocent players can transfer to another football program or be allowed to finish their education at Penn St.

    So cry me a river!! What about the innocent victims?
    I heard Rod Brooks also trying to make a case to keep football because it would displace some of the people who work the stadium selling crackerjacks or something. Agreed..another idiot.

    July 13th, 2012 1:47 pm

  21. Stan

    Did Rod Brooks sink that low?.

    July 13th, 2012 2:54 pm

  22. KauaiRobert

    Tiburon Dave:
    .
    Point well taken.
    .
    I think ALL universities should make sports programs secondary to education.
    .
    Unfortunately, that’s not reality and in this case, beside the point.
    .
    Take the case in Los Angeles at Miramonte Elementary school where that degenerate teacher committed lewd acts on all of those innocent children.
    .
    Ultimately, the entire faculty was fired just as athletic department officials at Penn St. were.
    .
    Some would say this was too harsh as good, hard-working, innocent teachers have been caught up in something they had no control over.
    .
    However, I actually agree with the decision since there is no way of knowing how widespread the abuse was.
    .
    That said, they are not closing the school itself as it would so negatively impact so many other inncent children.
    .
    I know what you’re thinking…we’re not talking about closing Penn St.–just the football program.
    .
    But what if that teacher happened to teach music at Miramonte.
    .
    Should they then cancel music class for the next ten years just to teach the school a lesson?
    .
    I would hope not.
    .
    Just my opinion…
    .
    .
    .
    *ALOHA*

    July 13th, 2012 3:47 pm

  23. Upinc44

    The focus really needs to be on the victims in this case. Whatever psychological treatments that the victims need should be paid during their lives by Penn State . Money cannot make up for what has happened however each victim should be given a sizable settlement.

    As for Joe Paterno the statue needs to come down right now. They let him stay in his position to break the all time record for wins. They should take every victory away from his record, from the time Paterno was first aware of Sanduskys’ activities.

    July 14th, 2012 12:39 am

  24. Dennis

    People are the cause of the problem, not programs. Punish the people who caused the problem. Punishing the football program, which makes money for the school, will only serve to punish all the tax payers in Pennsylvania who must now foot the bill for all the lawsuits that are sure to come. Nobody wins or is better served by shutting down the football program

    July 14th, 2012 7:30 am

  25. Dennis

    As for the statue, I think that is up to Penn State. I don’t really care one way or the other. I was never a big Paterno fan, but enough were to give hm a statue. I think it is up to them.

    July 14th, 2012 7:33 am

  26. Lo Sbandato

    When faced with perhaps the greatest test of character a human could ever face, Paterno failed. He choose expediency and self-preservation over the lives of children. There is no expiation, no pleading of special circumstances in this case.

    July 14th, 2012 3:06 pm

  27. Stan

    It get worse about the scum Joe Paterno. A report that as soon as he learned a grand jury was investigating,he not only changed his assets into his wife’s name,he also its been learned renegotiated his contract with SOME trustee’s so that if Paterno left Penn state early-for any reason- he would be paid 5 million dollars.
    THAT pretty much blows out of the water he had no idea of the scope of his evil football career. He wasn’t a doddering old man,but a cold hearted schemer and liar. And so was the top of the Penn State University.

    July 14th, 2012 4:06 pm

  28. R. Hoopadoozitz

    Too many bigshots, know-it-alls and noisemakers.

    The Bible says: “Let every man be….slow to speak, slow to wrath..” (James 1:19).

    July 14th, 2012 9:47 pm

  29. Stan

    No,you got it backwards Hoop..too many child victims.

    July 15th, 2012 8:31 am

  30. Neal

    Millen as bad as a liar as he was a GM for the Lions. Without a doubt the worst GM in the history of football.

    July 15th, 2012 8:51 am

  31. Stan

    More of they dont get it. Penn State says they wont remove Paterno’s statue (and why you dont make statues of the living) because of ..well,the usual apologists excuses.
    What I noticed is..the real hate from people in Pennsylvania posting under the story. They want it melted down. PS has full time guards on the statue.
    That University is still run by the inmates…

    July 15th, 2012 1:46 pm

  32. R. Hoopadoozitz

    Joe Paterno was alwas a prissy guy, never had a real problem in life, was always over-rated. You already knew that Stan. But all the piling on is mere bullying. It’s not required, is not helpful and clearly is of no aid to Sandusky’s victims.

    All the online dignitaries, the stone-throwers need to look at the carpentry in their own eyes.

    July 15th, 2012 5:09 pm

  33. Stan

    Piling on?? Paterno’s family got a 5 million dollar bonus. Sandusky for HIS banishment? $180,000 went into his bank account.
    If anything called for stone throwing its the Penn State sordid evilness. The more stones thrown,the better.

    July 16th, 2012 6:38 pm

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