Joe Paterno: The Legacy of a Legend, Tarnished


July 12, 2012 by kujhawk

The newly released Freeh Report detailing the involvement of Penn State officials in the Jerry Sandusky molestation cover-up has forever changed the legacy of former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno.

It was easy to say he didn’t know what was going on. It was easy to say he was old, busy and too preoccupied to see what was happening. But when Joe Paterno, the legendary head football coach at Penn State acknowledged before he passed away earlier this year that he should have done more to stop what the pedophile Jerry Sandusky was doing to children of the Penn State campus from 1998 to god-knows-when, things became much more complicated. And now, following the release of the Freeh Report, it is offical: Joe Paterno turned his back on the horrible things Sandusky was doing, allowing the man to terrorize young boys when he should have been locked up in a jail cell.

The Freeh Report has shed light on the Penn State athletic department’s role in the Sandusky cover up.

Gone now is the once rich legacy of the man who could do no wrong. He had a lifetime contract at Penn State, he could do whatever he wanted in Happy Valley and no one would question him. The ground he walked on was worshiped. But what is there to say now about Paterno’s legacy?

“He made the worst mistake of his life,” former FBI director Louis Freeh said in a press conference today.

Paterno, like Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schlutz, should be facing jail time for his part in the Sandusky cover up. If he were alive, Joe Pa would be in the same boat – busted by the Freeh Report, a wave of incrimination washing over Penn State.

What is so shocking to me about the part Paterno played in this was his blatant dishonesty when he testified to a grand jury about what he knew about Sandusky and his pedophile encounters with young boys. Paterno said he had no idea about Sandusky’s behavior until 2001, when Mike McQueary told him that he had walked in on Sandusky and a young boy in the shower – you can use your imagination on that one.

But Paterno, the squeaky-clean, god-like figure of Penn State athletics and college football had known – he had known since 1998. According to e-mails gathered by the Freeh Group, Paterno had been told about a police investigation on Sandusky involving – what else – a boy and a shower. No one in the Penn State athletics department confronted Sandusky about the incident in 1998. Now it is 2001, McQueary walks in on Sandusky and the boy in the shower, tells Paterno, who tells Curley, who tells Schlutz. But nothing is done. No one stops Sandusky, no one tells authorities, no one even tries to find out who the child was that Sandusky had scarred for life. The boy was left out in the cold by heartless men who cared only about themselves and “the program”.

The legacy of Joe Paterno will never be the same after the release of the Freeh Report.

But does one action erase a body of work that is second to none? Joe Paterno helped so many people. He changed the lives of young men on and off the football field for six decades. He was a tough love guy who told you how it was going to be with him from the start – his way or the highway. He was a first-class coach, motivator and person, and he was Penn State. But the bottom line is this: one action forever changed his legacy. One decision – the decision to cover up the actions of a sick, sick man – has left Joe Paterno with only one legacy, he is now a failure. He failed Penn State, he failed himself but most importantly – he failed the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s terrible crimes.

For all the people who’s lives he changed and helped move on to bigger and better things after college football, for all the games he won, national championships he won; it is the things he didn’t do that he will be remembered most by.

If you would like to email me about anything I’ve written, you can do so by emailing me at or contact me on twitter @Ev_Dunbar. I would love feedback and advice on what I can do better or what I should be doing more or less of!


5 thoughts on “Joe Paterno: The Legacy of a Legend, Tarnished

  1. Chris Ross says:

    Very nice post. I don’t even think Joe Paterno’s legacy is even a question. It’s broken down, trampled on and is beyond repair. Humpty dumpty had a great fall and all the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put humpty together again. That’s JoePa’s rep now in a nutshell to me. I don’t see how anyone else can see it that way to be honest. Also, you think you could check out my blog cuz I really wanna hear what you have to say

  2. Andy Barton says:

    You are 100% right about Paterno. His crimes are so bad they more than cancel out the good he did. I enjoyed reading all your posts.
    Andy B.

  3. […] that everything the Penn State athletics department did was misguided and wrong, (see my other blog Joe Paterno: The Legacy of a Legend Tarnished) but that does not mean that the 18 to 22-year-olds on the […]

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