(Originally published Nov. 23, 2011 in ConstantCommentary)
Actually, it was Jim Bryant, junior college and consensual. But I’m sure the column title earned me the attention I so richly deserve.
So how ’bout them Penn State Pedophiles, huh? Oh, yeah, that’s gonna stick. Thing is, this not only reflects badly on Penn State’s football team, it reflects badly on anyone having anything to do with Penn State for the next ten years at least.
For example. Let’s say I’m at a bar and the guy drinking martinis next to me introduces himself (because god knows I wouldn’t), and tells me he’s unemployed even though he has a master’s degree.
“Really?” I say. “What’s it in and where from?”
He says, “It’s in microbiology from Penn State.”
I’m pretty sure I know what I’d say next. “Oh.” (Pause.) “Ever had sex with a Boy Scout?”
Okay, okay, maybe I’d only just think it, but trust me, my brain would go straight from microbiology to macroboyology.
It gets worse. A friend of mine pointed out that this scandal isn’t just damaging to Penn State, it’s damaging to college football everywhere. She’s right.
I’ve been trying to tell my fellow 49er fans back on the west coast that they should get into watching the college ranks, but I think I’m inclined to skip the topic now.
Too bad. I used to tell them that the college game was slower so you could watch plays develop easier, that every game had playoff implications, and that unlike the pros, the college ranks didn’t take themselves quite so seriously.
Boy, is my face red. Apparently, college football is a lot more serious than I thought it was. It’s to-hell-with-the-boy-in-the-shower-I’ve-got-my-career-to-think-about serious.
To my way of thinking, Jerry Sandusky—the pedophile (allegedly) who moleted boys in the shower—is not the worst culprit. He’s obviously emotionally and psychologically disturbed and has a compulsion addiction to bizarre sexual behavior that can’t be fathomed by most of us. In other words, he’s got a disease.
But Mike McQueary—the assistant coach who discovered Sandusky in the shower with the boy—doesn’t have a disease. He’s just some idiot coach who wanted to save his career. According to grand jury reports, he did nothing to stop the incident and only reported it to his dad and coach Joe Paterno.
According to Wikipedia (the most reliable information source in the known universe), “McQueary later said he made sure the observed assault stopped before leaving, and that he discussed the incident with police. Penn State and State College police say they have no record of it.”
I know what I would have done in McQueary’s shoes. I would have yelled at the top of my lungs, “Hey! Hey! You need to stop that, now!” I know that, because while I never ran into a pedophile scenario before, I did see a man abusing his wife at a laundromat and that’s exactly what I did.
Believe me, I didn’t want to say anything, because after the words came out the 6-foot-2, 300-pound guy started to come after me. Not good, since at the time I was at a starving-artist weight of about 135 pounds. I just said, “Look, pal, I’m a writer and I won’t mess around. I’ll call 911 right now and get the cops here.”
He backed off and even thanked me later as we both folded clothes. True, like McQueary, I never did report the incident to the police, but I understand that. If it’s not a DUI, the police usually don’t do squat. Child abuse, murder, robbery—these things confuse the local constabulary. But DUIs and moving violations, they’re all over that like Young on Rice.
McQueary’s going to have a tough time from now on, and his football career is likely over. With that bright orange hair, he stands out like a flashing neon sign outside a flophouse window. Thing is, he’s not the worst culprit in this scandal.
The worst is Joe Paterno, known affectionately as JoePa.That nickname’s got some creepy connotations now, doesn’t it?
JoPa’s the worst because it’s his football program. As soon as he learned about the incident he should have taken full responsibility. Had he done so, he would have prevented other boys from being abused by Sandusky, and he would have saved Mike McQueary’s football life.
But JoePa didn’t want a nasty scene to besmirch his beloved Nittany Lions and his all-so-important legacy. So he just swept it under the AstroTurf, doing only the bare minimum required by law. He did not do what was required by common decency and basic morality, however.
These cover-ups never seem to work out well (but I guess if they did, how the hell would we know?). Now JoPa’s name is tarnished, and it’s tarnished by one of the most reprehensible, vile and repugnantly shocking scandals in sports history.
As a result, JoPa’s name will no longer be on the trophy awarded to the winner of the Big Ten title game. Instead of being called the Stagg-Paterno trophy, it’ll just be called the Stagg trophy.
But there’s also a statue of Joe Paterno at Penn State and there’s been some talk as to whether that statue should be removed. Here’s my take: keep the statue, just change the inscription. Try this.
“Coach Joe Paterno, aka JoePa, who lacked courage and character when it was needed most.”