By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Yes, you read that headline correctly. Former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno died too early.
Not in age, mind you. 85 is a heck of a run for anybody. I certainly hope I can make it that far. At the same time, I hope when my ticket gets punched there are not a horde of fools misrepresenting what and who I was.
The vast majority of eulogies out there now pay tribute to Paterno, his coaching career, his philanthropic efforts, and his role as a family man. Touching. The problem is almost all of them gloss over the other touching issue.
I will never understand humanity’s inability, for the most part, to speak absolute truth of the dead. It is as though death washes away all the bad things we ever did. Death makes us perfect, clean, absolved of sins (even the ones that many don’t consider sins to begin with). How lucky we all are to die, I guess, especially when it gets us out of facing the loud, cacophonous music after we hired the band in the first place.
The situation with Jerry Sandusky is not ignored in any of these Paterno memorials I have read, but it hardly is given the weight of the statue of JoePa in Creepy Valley. I keep being told to remember the good and the controversial Paterno. Writers and talking heads suggest that the coaching career, charitable work, and father figure cannot be omitted.
The hell they can’t.
When one is involved in abetting a pederast—and, yes, you blind PSU pinheads, knowing of something of “a sexual nature” between an assistant and a child, hearing more than one parental accusation of inappropriate behavior, not making sure the proper police and child abuse authorities are involved, contemplating shifting the accused to a head coaching position at a nearby school, watching as this monster repeatedly showed up at your facilities with children and donned your school’s logo on your campus after grand jury investigations, and floundering on your story on the whole matter is abetting—and the subsequent cover up, I do not care if that person cured cancer. He is a vile excuse for a human being, and I will not reflect on some perceived halo about the man’s head. I will instead remember him for his role in helping crimes that have no opposing good deeds to create some zero sum, let alone a positive.
And I will also remember that Paterno got off too easy. He died too soon.
He will not be forced to testify in any criminal trials, to mumble and wheeze and stutter under the questioning of prosecutors and in view of the agape mouths of Nittany rabble who can’t understand the gall of those who would dare put a god on a witness stand. He will not have to look into the eyes of the alleged victims (though could he bring himself to even do so?), those eyes that hold the echoes of horrific screams and shattered innocence, that tearfully ask why Paterno did not do more, as he said he wished he had done.
He will not have to see the beast that he helped create and then nurtured rear its full wrath as it eats away at an institution wholly identified with Paterno himself. He will not have to hear the babbling of severely ignorant supporters who have put fictional characters and idealized notions of Pleasantville, PA ahead of very real crimes, nor will he have the opportunity to educate them on the real gravity of the situation (not that he would since he bathed in a culture of fandom with completely whacked priorities most of his life).
He will not have to cope with helping to turn what should be a great school into a laughing stock, and that everything and everyone related to it is forever tainted. Current and future students being denied jobs because of their alma mater. Professors and other Penn State employees being labeled as scum because of this all and through no fault of their own. Taunts from opposing fans at sporting events for years to come.
Joe Paterno will not bear the brunt of the fiasco he was a part of, which he fostered. The old man with the “aw shucks” attitude, who said he had never heard of “rape and a man,” does not have the unlucky task of responsibility.
No, he is lucky enough to be dead.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.