Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Fails Human Decency Test

Joe PaternoCollege football fans have long had a love/hate relationship with Penn State Coach Joe Paterno. Nittany Lions lovers have, naturally, loved the nation's winningest collegiate team leader. The rest of us have loathed JoePa's every move. But I don't think any of us were expecting his fall from grace to be wrapped up in horrors of the type that the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case have brought to State College, Pennsylvania.

A week ago, Joe Paterno was the college football coach we loved to hate. Today I think we can drop the guilt and just hate the man.


The chilling 23-page grand jury report details a young graduate assistant finding a 10-year-old boy essentially being raped in a shower by Sandusky. Shocked, he reported the sighting and all the disgusting details to Paterno. The famous coach called Athletic Director Tim Curley, higher than him in the chain of command at Penn State.

Wow. Joe Paterno made a phone call. Whoop-edy-doo. It takes a lot more than that to pass the human decency test.

The very idea of spending time with a man accused -- whether in court or by a graduate assistant -- of abusing children makes my skin crawl. People talk about keeping their kids away from child predators, but I, myself, wouldn't want to be in the same room with one. People who hurt kids are lower than low. And Joe Paterno worked side-by-side with one, even after he'd heard some of the most disturbing allegations in the history of college football.

When the case languished, the father of five and grandfather of 17 didn't call the cops himself. He didn't think about his three sons when they were just kids trusting a coach to teach them how to play football. He didn't think about the kids who read his children's book about Penn State football. And he didn't tell his one-time assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, that he makes his skin crawl just looking at him. Paterno had the opportunity to leave no rock unturned in the pursuit of justice, and he didn't!

So Joe Paterno doesn't seem to be guilty of anything that will take him into a court of law. Now we know he's guilty of being the kind of guy who puts the success of a football team ahead of human decency. I might have felt guilty for hating a guy for being successful on the gridiron. But there's no feeling bad about hating him for not doing everything he could to protect innocent children.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? Did you turn to the cops?


Image via jkahnpsu/Flickr

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