Penn State University grieves again. First they had to (and continue to) deal with fallout from the Sandusky child abuse scandal. Now former head football coach Joe Paterno has died from lung cancer.
Facts in the news reports made me realize why students, alumni and many State College, Pennsylvania residents were so loyal to Paterno: his extreme loyalty to Penn State. He was an anomaly in an age when football coaches switch jobs every 5-10 years. He was head coach for over 40 years and worked in the football program 16 years before that. The fact that he turned down multiple offers to coach in the National Football League shows the strength of his loyalty.
It is unfortunate that the abuse scandal tainted the end of Paterno’s career. While he certainly could have done more when he heard about Jerry Sandusky’s (alleged) actions, any efforts to downplay Paterno’s coaching record will not change what happened those young boys. It needs to be remembered that Paterno was not the perpetrator of this abuse. We all fail at times to live up to the highest ethical standards. (Have you ever told a lie – or worse?) Paterno’s failure to act more decisively in this matter does not negate his coaching record. He should be honored for that and Jerry Sandusky should be prosecuted for the charges against him.