|Legendary Penn St. football coach, Joe Paterno, passed |
away early this morning at the age of 85.
I'm not going to delve deeply into presenting the news or life of Joe Paterno, it is all over ESPN and other media outlets right now, and I have posted a link below. This commentary is designed to present my opinion of Joe Paterno's life-long dedication to his passion, and also the heartbreaking issues that possibly contributed to his death. I realize I am just a college student, but I really was deeply saddened by Joe Paterno's faltering state, and I awoke at the crack of dawn today just to see if he had survived the night. So while I may not have expert opinion or knowledge, this is clearly an issue that means something to me. This has been a long time coming for me to share my honest opinion about this, and with that being said, here is my insight...
I believe, despite all the negative questions about the character of Joe Paterno, that he was a man of great moral integrity, and I believe he was wrongfully terminated. Attack my character if you want, but if you saw Paterno's interview about how he wished he had done more, than you would also have seen the expression of a man with a truly broken heart. A broken heart that I undoubtedly believe contributed to the set of complications Paterno was already dealing with from his ongoing battle with lung cancer.
Coaching was his life, and that life was ripped from him by the despicable actions and mistakes of others. Sure, Paterno's actions involving the scandal might have been considered naive, but many people criticizing fail to place themselves in the context of the situation. At an institution such as Penn St., one cannot just assume that because someone tells you they saw something that you can report it to the police. How many times do we see in the sports and pop culture that someone is falsely accused for an action they simply did not do. Sure, Paterno could have further investigated the situation, but making a call to the police based on the word of one person would be an extremely foolish move.
I believe the blame for the lack of action from the university falls solely on assistant coach Mike McQueary. When you actually witness a crime being committed, you are obligated as a citizen of the United States to take action and report such crime. If anyone should have called the police, it undoubtedly should have been McQueary because he was a first-hand witness. Paterno was placed between a rock and a hard-place when McQueary reported to him what he had seen. If Paterno got the police involved and the allegations were false, he would have destroyed the life of one of his colleagues and friends, and would have done so based on the word of someone else.
The problem with the action that Paterno took is the allegations look overwhelming true, and so now his image is tarnished because of something almost completely out of his control. It's obvious in that situation that Paterno handled the situation with the utmost professionalism and class while abiding to all of Penn St.'s legal procedures, but anyone would wish they could do more to help protect innocent children.
All of this is hard to deal with because it destroyed the lives of so many, including irreversible pain to the lives of innocent children. I needed to express my dismay for how the situation was handled in regards to Joe Paterno, however. It's not about him losing his job, it's about a man who for 85 years prided himself on his character and class, and was then stripped of those titles that he so deserved. One action (or lack of action) cannot undo 45 years of previous greatness. I am not wavering, Joe Paterno's legacy of character and class will live on my heart as well as the heart of countless others.
I will always look up to Joe Paterno as a role model for his pride, character, passion, and professionalism. This is a heartbreaking farewell for a truly great man who deserved nothing but our respect and admiration. Paterno's football legacy may or may not be tarnished by this scandal, but his legacy of character remains pure and eternal in the hearts of us all.
Click here for all the details about Paterno's death and legacy via ESPN