Hello. Long time no see. The Stack is back after taking resting the latter part of last week and unfortunately not posting anything yesterday due to no internet. Stupid Mediacom. Anyway, we are back today with what I hope is a very thoughtful and candid, but yet very firm take on the Freeh Report on Penn State football which was released last Thursday. I would like it to generate some discussion. Yes I realize it is old news. But it is still worth talking about.
What else is new in the world of sports? Really, not a whole lot. The British Open starts Thursday. Can't wait for that. We'll have a preview and prediction on Wednesday. Baseball's trade deadline looms with two weeks remaining. Might the Cincinnati Reds make a move after all-star first baseman Joey Votto underwent knee surgery and is expected to miss three to four weeks? Critical injury for the Reds as it cripples their chances of winning the NL Central. The Pittsburgh Pirates still need to prove that they can handle the second half of the season. Might this open the door for the St. Louis Cardinals?
In other news, team USA got off to a slow start, but came back to beat Brazil in their pre-Olympic exhibition game 80-69. LeBron James had 30 points. Let me know when the games actually matter.
And finally, it is a good time to get rich if you're an NFL player. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees agrees. He signed a five-year $100 million dollar deal with the Saints last Friday, including a $37 million signing bonus and $60 million guaranteed. Must be rough. But Brees deserves it given what he has done as the Saints quarterback. Don't expect the big contract to get to his head. Especially with what has happened this offseason for the Saints, Brees will make sure to keep the team focused. A couple of other players who got paid include running back Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears (Four years, $32 million) and Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (five-years, $40 million). Both are deserving recipients of these deals as they are two of the top five running backs in the game. A couple of players who didn't get paid, well that would be New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker who failed to sign a long-term deal with the Patriots. He can still sign his franchise tender, but his days as a Patriot may soon be numbered. And Cliff Avril of the Detroit Lions failed to reach an agreement on a long-term deal. He says he won't report to camp right away. Don't know if the Lions will eventually sign him to a long-term deal or not.
Alright, let's finally get to the Penn State reaction in "the stack" for today, Tuesday, July 17:
Freeh Report not kind to Joe Paterno, other heads at Penn State
By now, most everyone has heard part of if not most of the findings Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, found and put together in the Freeh Report on what happened at Penn State. You can find it here at this link. The heads, those associated with Penn State the most, former head coach Joe Paterno, President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz all played a vital role in turning a blind eye to the evil and disgusting things that Jerry Sandusky was doing over a 14-year period to young boys. Robbing them of their youth and innocense. That is what Sandusky and these other people did whether directly or indirectly. Freeh in his report says that the heads "failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade" and called the officials' disregard for child victims "callous and shocking." I don't want to get too much into the report. You all can read it for yourselves.
Bottomline is, Joe Paterno lied. He lied to us. He lied to his family. He lied to the university. He lied to the community. And he lied to himself. Sure there are those people who want to remember JoPa's legacy as one of the nicest and best ever in college football, maybe even in all of sports. That's fine if you want to look at the glass half full. As a college football coach, he was great, the best all-time. As a human being, he is a low-life. Sorry, you can help build the future's of young men and be their "dad" at school and be their "friend" and "mentor" after graduation, but for what JoPa did to a number of young boys over a 14-year span, that's just plain wrong.
There's no reasonable, logical explanation for why he did it. To protect the university's image? The football program's image? His own? To hell with all of that. He forever changed the lives of young boys who were raped by a sick, sick man in Jerry Sandusksy who will never ever see the light of day again outside of a prison wall. It's a shame that he is going to be in solidarity. Whatever he gets in prison is too good for him. He should rot in there. Maybe even get the death penalty, but enough about Sandusky. Let's get back to Paterno.
How could Paterno live with himself day after day, knowing what someone on his own coaching staff for quite some time was doing these horrible things to young boys? How can anyone look at Joe Paterno as if he did nothing wrong? Just as Paterno turned a blind eye on what Sandusky was doing, so too are some in the Penn State community and around the country for that matter for looking at Paterno favorably and saying that all of the bad information and facts coming out are just a tactic to smear Paterno's legacy and what he did to build the university and football program. How can these people think like that? How is Paterno's legacy not hurt by this? Without question, that statue needs to come down that is outside of Beaver Stadium. That statue is now a reminder of Sandusky and this scandal rather than Paterno's coaching. You want to remember what Paterno did for the program, but at this stage, the statue will not do its purpose. Get it down.
Now, I'm really hoping that Joe Paterno didn't force himself into an illness that caused him to die. The stress from all of that happened surely makes an older person even more fragile. But if Paterno made his own condition worse knowing what eventually would come out and preventing anyone from asking him about it, then that would be bad. Not saying that is what happened, but doesn't the thought have to be thrown out there?
And to Paterno's family, "shut up!" It is completely understandable that you want to view your father, husband, family friend as a great human being and keep his legacy respectable and untarnished, but after the Freeh Report has come out, it's time to take your own medicine and just accept the facts for what they are. Having an expert legal team look through everything in the report and putting out a statement that you disagree with the report's findings is childish. You were the ones that always said we want the facts in this situation to come out. Because they are even worse than you expected, that means they can't be true? Come on. Get with it. I'm sure it's shocking to find out all of this, especially with your father, husband, etc. being right in the middle of it all and not doing a damn thing about what was going on. But tough luck. These are the facts.
Now comes the difficult part. Should Penn State football receive the death penalty from the NCAA? After careful thought and consideration, I say...yes. I don't know for how long. Definitely more than a year. And yes, it will be painful to the rest of the athletic program. All of the other sports that depend on the revenue that football generates will be affected. There are a lot of ramifications that come with giving a program the death penalty. Somehow, the university should do everything it can to make sure that the rest of the school's sports remain alive and scholarships awarded. And yes, weekend's where the town fills the local eateries and hotels for the home football games, that will be difficult to for the local economy. But a message must be sent. The community is not at fault here for not knowing, but someone has to pay a consequence for the actions of a few men. And unfortunately, that is going to be the city and university. This has nothing to do with breaking NCAA rules for giving a bagel with cream cheese to a recruit, thereby classifying it as a meal and making it illegal under NCAA law. This has to do with right and wrong. Moral and unmoral. Hanious crime vs. stupid NCAA rule. In fact, what the NCAA should do is keep the program on death penalty another year more the longer it takes Penn State to come up with an acceptable punishment. There is only one punishment that makes sense and can even come close to making it up to those young boys. And that is the death penalty to the football program.
For the football players who will be affected, this is an easy solution to solve. Let everyone transfer to the school of their choice and let them play right away. No questions asked. And grant them another year of eligibility. Most of the players would be able to land at other top schools and be able to start right away. Put that in to writing too if you have to. Yes it would suck for the players. Some if not many probably dreamed growing up one day and playing football for Penn State. Just make it as easy as possible for the athletes to transfer.
I understand there is no easy way around this, and giving the football program the death penalty seems harsh, but what else can you do? Just say, well that was in the past and none of the people involved then have anything to do with the football program now so that the punishment would fit? Sorry, I don't buy that. Over a fourteen-year span, many young boys had their childhoods rocked by a sick individual and no one came to their rescue. Now, it's time for the consequences to fall, and unfortunately for the university, the football program has to take the brunt of it.
What do you guys think? If the death penalty is not a good idea, what other punishment fits the crime? What should be done? What are your thoughts on Paterno's legacy now?
Over the last few days, hundreds of people from ESPN, CBS, Yahoo!, CNN, FOX, etc. have put their thoughts out there as to what should happen to Penn State and their thoughts on Joe Paterno and his legacy. Their interesting to read. It sounds like the majority opinion is that Paterno's legacy is so badly tarnished that his football wins and everything he did will forever be greatly overshadowed by what he failed to do in this scandal. And opinion seems split on the death penalty. A sad, sad time in Penn State with more and more answers and facts becoming present, raising even more and more questions.
Coming up later this week: British Open preview plus reaction to other top sports stories