Today, the Paterno family, still grieving from the loss of their tarnished patriarch, released a report in an attempt to clear the name of one of the all-time coaching greats.
It will not work.
What the Paterno family still fails to realize is that, when it comes to Paterno, this saga has never been about who said what to who. To the American people, it has never been about reports, guilt, innocence or process. For Paterno, the judgment that rightfully descended upon him was never about what he did; it was about what he failed to do.
The Paterno report is aimed squarely at the Freeh report which alleges and implies intentional cover up for the sake of the strength of the university and the football program. While that report laid the groundwork for NCAA sanctions, the public had already made up their mind about Paterno.
He was a coward. He was a man who stood idly by when even the most jaded and careless among us would have reacted with rage and violence toward someone who committed the acts that Jerry Sandusky did.
The fact remains that the best scenario we can paint for this supposed leader of men is that he reported an incident to his superiors at a time when a calm reaction for most of us would have been to grab Jerry Sandusky by the collar and slam him against a wall, to physically remove him from the premises, and make it life’s mission to insure justice for those boy whom he had robbed of everything.
This report will attempt to remove the guilt from Paterno that he was an evil and intentional protector of Penn State University. What this report nor any other could ever remove, is that he had the power to bring down swift and immediate justice, that he should have been enraged like the rest of us, and that he was idle and mostly silent when there was the greatest need of action.
For that, Joe Paterno will always have the legacy of a coward, a man who undeserving of the praise that was once lavished on him as a man of character. Reports can argue over the rest, but the sports world and the American people cannot, should not, and will not ever forgive Joe Paterno.