When a story broke earlier this week that Joe Paterno and other members of the Penn State coaching staff knew that Jerry Sandusky was a child abuser as early as 1976, Paterno’s son Jay immediately got on the defensive. Jay penned a response that defended his father’s legacy and the family name.
Look, I get it. As the family spokesmen, Jay Paterno had to do that. Besides, Joe Pa was his father. If your family doesn’t defend you or the family name posthumously, who will? While I get all that, the Paterno family also needs to face the realty that Joe Pa was not a saint.
I’m not going to get on my moral high horse here and bash Paterno. The reason I won’t do that is because I have felt all along that both he and the school covered up for Sandusky. You would have to have been a fool to think they didn’t know. The fact of the matter is, the Penn State football program was more important to Paterno and school administrators than the well being of innocent children who were being abused by a predator that they were employing.
Jay Paterno can and should defend his father’s name at all costs but the Paterno family also needs to realize that maybe, just maybe, the family patriarch didn’t do enough to hold a coach on his staff accountable or protect innocent children when they were being sexually assaulted. Until they come to that realization, they will continue to live a lie.
The Paterno name will forever be associated with Penn State football. Unfortunately, thanks to Paterno covering up for the reprehensible actions of Jerry Sandusky, his name will forever be tarnished as well. It’s time the Paterno family recognized that fact and accepted it.