Gameday (tf)

Well, they played the game. Penn State lost…..the way they usually lose. Lack of a potent offense….combined with turgid play-calling and a lack of team speed. Their defense played their brains out, as they always do. Good defense is enough against teams like Temple and Indiana. Against Nebraska….usually not. You need more. Make no mistake. Penn State didn’t lose on Saturday because of a “distraction”, or because they lacked a wizard on the sidelines. They lost because they’re not as good as Nebraska.

Stands were filled to the brim though. 100k plus. Lots of “JoePa” chants and “poor Joe why’d you fire him” signs. The 2 teams met at mid-field before the game for a quickie prayer, which went over big with the masses. Then it was business as usual. Rumors were rampant that if Penn State won the players were going to march from Beaver Stadium to Paterno’s house and present him with the game ball….presumably with 100,000 or so of their friends. No mention of presenting a game ball to any of Sandusky’s rape victims. At the end of the game reporter stuck a mic in the face of Joe Paterno’s son, who teared up thinking about his father not being there. A poignant moment on live TV for sure. Would have been more poignant if tears were shed for victims 10 years ago….and Sandusky was stuck in a cage where he belongs.  Then this whole ugly thing could have been avoided in the first place. But, we all know the story by now. Penn State is about football. Football is Joe Paterno. When they build statues of you and name things after you when you’re still alive…..and when fans don’t think they look completely insane being filmed on their knees in their beloved coach’s modest front yard saying prayers, you’ve probably accumulated a bit too much power.

At least let the guy die before he’s entombed and pigeons start shitting on him.

I don’t know what I was hoping would happen on Saturday. I thought playing the game itself was wrong, but there was never any real doubt that it would be played. I thought having a ticket and actually using it for the game was wrong, but since the place was filled to overflowing, nobody else thought so. I thought being a player on that team….knowing what your coaches both did and didn’t do, would create a moral dilemma….for at least a few of them. It didn’t. Not a single player sat out the game on moral grounds. I supposed I’m just incredibly idealistic when it comes to the proper reaction to the sexual abuse of children. Playing a game isn’t on my list. Senior day be damned. I know the players didn’t do anything wrong….but that’s not the issue. The issue is that Penn State as an institution did do wrong. Ghastly bits of wrong-doing….from the President to the football program to the campus police to the janitorial staff. Even the campus bookstore seemed clueless. As of Saturday they were still selling Sandusky’s book…..cringingly titled “Touched”.

There are still an alarming number of folks out there who say Paterno did not nothing wrong. And certainly nothingillegal. He’s got nothing whatsoever to worry about, they say. The pope of State College gets a pass because he’s got 400+ wins. Because he’s donated millions to the school. Because he’s “molded” so many “men”. Because he lives in a regular house and not a gated mansion. Because Franco Harris says so. Or just because the way Paterno handled the situation is the way his “generation” handles such un-heard of modern things. By kinda ignoring it hoping it’ll go away. Paterno should not be held to the same moral standards as a lowly janitor….or even a cowardly graduate assistant (all Paterno apologists consider what assistant coach Mike McQueary didn’t do scandalous….yet allow Paterno to slide for the same offense…which is not only absurd but incredibly elitist). Paterno simply means too much to the University. He’s an icon. The face of the place. Treating JoePa so disrespectfully is like spitting out the host into the priest’s face at communion.

Even when faced with the fact that JoePa has hired one of the most expensive criminal lawyers in the country…..some blue and white faithful cannot be nudged. Such is not the act of a man convinced of the moral and legal high ground…but then again folks stood in line to drink kool-aid in Jonestown too….even after folks were laying down and not getting up again.

This is not over. Sandusky didn’t stop at 8 or 10 or even 100 boys. Deep down everyone knows that. More victims will come forward. And more hard questions will be asked. Like…..how exactly do Mike McQueary and Joe Paterno know about a guy raping little boys in the football showers and Penn State interim coach Tom Bradley not know. What aboutPaterno’s assistant coach son? Or the rest of the staff. Did they know? Why did Sandusky, at the height of his coaching prestige and with Penn State coming off a national championship, suddenly retire in 1999? Seems strange…especially since it was no secret Sandusky longed to be Paterno’s heir apparent.

How many others knew?

Why was the judge who released Sandusky on $100,000 bail allowed to handle the case at all, considering she openly served as a volunteer for the “Second Mile”, Sandusky’s charity?

It doesn’t get better with time….or with hindsight. It gets worse. Sandusky’s backyard is adjacent to….an elementary school.

And still, the games go on. And the money rolls in.

— Tom Flannery

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~ by admin on November 14, 2011.

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