Joe Paterno’s legendary career was marred by controversy in the days leading up to his untimely death. The Penn State sex scandal perpetrated by the school’s long-time defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has dragged the institution’s reputation through the mud, and recent emails between Penn State honchos seem to point to Joe Pa as a key figure in an alleged cover up of Sandusky’s illicit behaviors. Of course, all of this begs the question: Was Joe Pa a liar?
Though here at IQ we’re loathe to speak ill of the dead, a recent op-ed in the Daily Beast answers that question without pulling any punches. “Paterno is lucky to have died,” writes Buzz Bissinger, noting that if the coach were still alive, he’d be “facing possible indictment for perjury.” Indeed, e-mails from 2001 between Penn State big-wigs point to a possible cover up of Sandusky’s crimes, with Joe Pa playing a key, though unknown role, completely flying in the face of Paterno’s grand jury testimony, notes Newser.
“He was the God of Happy Valley […] so you can bet it was he who was the primary driver behind the decision not to report Sandusky to authorities,” Bissinger writes. He admits that it is “ugly” to speak ill of the dead, but in this case, covering up child sexual abuse is just as ugly.
Bissinger explains that Paterno implied during his grand jury testimony that after being told about Sandusky’s shower incident by Mike McQueary, he spoke to athletic director Tim Curley about it and then left it to Curley to remedy the situation. “I figured that Tim would handle it appropriately. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Mr. Curley and I thought he would look into it and handle it appropriately,” said Paterno.
The problem is this: one email from Curley indicates that he changed his mind to report Sandusky following a conversation with Paterno. “After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe … I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.”
This is why Bissinger argues people should stop touting Joe Paterno as this faultless legendary image: “He wasn’t the moral center. He wasn’t the avuncular JoePa. He wasn’t the man who simply didn’t do enough when confronted with a sickening allegation,” Bissinger concludes. “Add the word ‘liar’ to his legacy.”
Do you think that Joe Paterno was involved in the alleged Sandusky cover-up? Was he a liar? Sound off below.