There are moments in history that are never forgotten, moments that live in infamy, moments that stand still in time.
These are moments where everyone remembers where they were, who they were with, and what they were doing.
These are moments that transcend. Moments that awe. Moments that shock. Moments that bring hope.
November 9th, 2011, is now one of those moments in the sporting world, the day Joe Paterno was fired at Penn State.
As a Penn State student, I’ll always remember this feeling that I hold in the pit of my stomach. It isn’t one of pride, regret, remorse or anything like that. It’s one of shock and awe.
[Strobl: Protesting students missing the point]
Everyone, including the man himself, knew that his day was coming. He even went as far to announce his retirement just some hours before he was fired under a cloud of smoke and mirrors.
That man is Joe Paterno, a man of integrity, a man of grace, a man of kindness. I have shook the hand of this man, much like the creed of those who shook the hand of Sinatra, I know integrity when I see it, and Joe Paterno has it.
Sure he made a mistake, so did a graduate assistant, a father, an athletic director, a president and so on. But there were more people who made a mistake, the media. The national media has forgotten the name of a sick and deranged human being who is the real villain, Jerry Sandusky.
Penn State University, which claims to restore the “integrity” of its institution, has committed a crime. The school has let it’s most iconic symbol becoming the only man standing in the firing line of the national media. The school Paterno has given his life too, not to mention millions of dollars, has let him be executed in the court of public opinion.
Instead of letting Paterno tell his story in his own words, the school silenced him during his weekly press conference, not allowing him to speak to the media, forcing him instead, to crack open a window to let his voice be heard.
The man gives you more than 60 years of his time and you can’t give him 10 minutes? That is a crime Penn State, if you’re so bent on honor and integrity, show the man some and let him speak for himself.
Instead of letting Paterno go out on his own, the school’s board of trustee’s decided to fire him, further signaling that Paterno committed more wrongdoing than he actually did. Should he have done more, yes. But he wasn’t the one who witnessed the attack, and he wasn’t the one performing the attacks, Jerry Sandusky was.
When word broke out from the board of trustee’s meeting that Paterno was through, all hell broke lose in once-Happy Valley. Do riots in the streets do anything positive, no. But those participating were a small majority on a campus that has more than 35,000 plus students.
But as juvenile as it was, they had a point. They could see that a University was hiding behind a man, one who was wronged. Joe Paterno is a good man, good men make mistakes. It happens everyday, I’ve made them, you’ve made them. We all have.
Until all, and I mean all, of the facts are present, it’s unfair of the media to crucify the man who has stood for so much more than football during his 46 year tenure as head football coach, and to jump to these harsh conclusions now, without all the facts, doesn’t do the man justice.
On Saturday November 12th, Joe Paterno will not be on the sidelines at a Penn State football game for the first time since 1950.
Let that sink in for a moment.
If it doesn’t feel right, look again, because it shouldn’t.