Dienhart: Remember Lessons, Not Statue

It’s a simple mantra that we all should live by: Do the right thing. Joe Paterno didn’t do it. But the decision makers at Penn State are by opting to remove the Paterno statue. Thank you. Oh, the JoePa bootlickers, apologists and loyalists rallied around the statue of their false god, worshiping Paterno in some sort of twisted religious fashion. The sycophants guarded their bronzed deity and laid flowers at its feet, adorning the area around it with signs of support.

Pathetic. Just like Paterno.

The larger-than-life likeness of Paterno jogging with his right hand in the air with index finger extended in a No. 1 sign sat adjacent to Beaver Stadium. Honestly, it’s the house that Paterno built, on a campus that Paterno made nationally relevant, in a state that Paterno owned.

JoePa was king. Instead of proudly chanting with chest puffed: “We Are! Penn State!” Nittany Lion fans should have chanted: “We Are! Paterno State!”

But Paterno was a fraud. And frauds don’t deserve to be canonized, or cast in bronze for the ages.

Those Paterno supporters can’t face the cold, hard truth of the Freeh Report. But they don’t want to face the cold, hard truth because it would mean they were wrong. It would mean something they believed in and clung to so hard and for so long was so wrong.

You’ve heard their drivel.

JoePa did so many good things for so many people. JoePa gave so much money to the Penn State. JoePa won so many football games and made us all matter, feeding our self-esteem.

But it was all an act.

And it all doesn’t matter in the wake of what we now know about the man who so deftly crafted a phony Norman Rockwell facade as a deity to the denizens of this school and state. People like that don’t deserve statues.

This was a selfish man.

This was an evil man.

This was a man who could have faced some criminal charges if he still was alive.

Honestly, it’s kinda shameful it took this long to make the decision to remove the 7-foot, 900-pound Paterno statue. What was there to debate?

Paterno has been implicated in the Freeh Report as a central figure in the cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. A nanosecond after Freeh uttered the final word of his 267-page report on July 12, a truck should have been dispatched to Beaver Stadium to haul it away.

Nike quickly removed Paterno’s name from its Child Development Center. Brown University, Paterno’s alma mater, removed his name from a coaching position and an annual scholarship.

But, the tribute to a man who enabled a child sex abuser still stood for days after the exhaustive Freeh Report was released, a lightning rod of controversy and a rallying point for the sick Paterno worship of those forever blinded by a saintly image that Paterno had built over years.

It was a false image.

Pray for those people when you pray for the children who Paterno knowingly allowed to be sexually abused by the monster that was Sandusky.

Forget about storing the statue or putting it in some museum. Instead, destroy it. Melt it down—or just blow it up.

In the exact place where the statue stood, erect a monument to the victims of the cover up that Paterno helped orchestrate. Of course, Paterno’s heinous participation should be duly noted in the memorial. Let’s make sure he gets full credit for his part in the worst scandal in college sports history.

Let’s make sure future generations avoid making gods of mortal men who coach football, empowering them to the point where they are capable of pulling off the pitiful and incomprehensible acts of Paterno.

I am convinced Paterno was obsessed with being an immortal who was driven to become college football’s all-time victory leader. But now, he’s an immortal for all the wrong reasons.

Those wins? Those championships? Who cares?

JoePa has gone from being famous to infamous. It’s a lesson I hope we all remember as we hear the jackhammers pounding and watch that statue come down.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart, and you can subscribe to it all via his RSS feed. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below.

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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (18 Comments)
AngieLam on 7/22/2012 @ 8:45am EDT Said:

More vitriol from the media, who else isn’t surprised?? http://www.johnziegler.com/editorials_details.asp?editorial=220

Tony on 7/22/2012 @ 9:03am EDT Said:

You sound like a very bitter man against free speech. You get to have an opinion and nobody else does? If they don’t agree with you then they are wrong? Who in the hell are you to make that call and belittle those who are JoePa backers? You are an arrogant person to write the article you just wrote. Are you a king and we are supposed to listen to you? When Joe was told about the incident and he elevated it, what else was he supposed to do? If I see a crime happen and I report it to the police, what is my obligation after reporting it? Do I go to the police station every night and ask them what they have done? Do stand in front of the police station and demand a status every night? If I don’t feel like they are doing enough, do I then jump into the investigation? What is enough and what is not enough? Do you get to determine it because you are a writer? You are the media, so we all bow down to you and your word? We are all people. Some people agree with what happened and some people don’t agree. The great thing is, we live in a free country and we get to voice our opinion. BTN needs to get rid of your arrogant, poor excuse for a sports journalist.

brian hess on 7/22/2012 @ 9:10am EDT Said:

a dead man can’t defend himself so i will. yes all this is wrong and those who new should be charged but too take aim at the coach alone is wrong, why not remove penn state from the big ten. this senior reporter is the best man alive he has done no wrong in life, not we have all made mistake maybe not this bad i hope but mistakes leave all that is coach P alone and let it be a reeminder that things can be the past and a state can move forward . His name is penn state football but this program will go on and they can educate with this so future students, coaches, and fans know the ups and downs of where they come from.

Gary Rayl on 7/22/2012 @ 10:04am EDT Said:

To me an Indiana fan where football means little, I find this sad. I liked JoePa as an image but I was wrong, sorry. I wish it was different.

a Big ten Fan on 7/22/2012 @ 10:50am EDT Said:

from the report commissioned by Penn State it is apparent of Paterno’s control of Penn State. “Conduct detrimental to the Big Ten” is reason enough to suspend or elimanate Penn State from the Big Ten. If Paterno’s defense is he told the authorities than why did he allow Sandusky around at all, practices, keys to facilities ? There is no defense for that . The victims lives have been scarred and Paterno could have saved this from happening to some and did nothing.
I agree with Tom Dienhart Paterno seemed to only care about his legacy

Sesay on 7/22/2012 @ 10:54am EDT Said:

Seriously close your eyes and think for a moment..if your child was one of the victims here, after.you read that report, if you wouldnt have wanted JoePa to pay an ultimate price along with the other enablers, tben you are worthless as a parent. No if’s, and’s or but’s!!

Wes Raywood on 7/22/2012 @ 11:11am EDT Said:

You mad, bro?

Becca Rendulic on 7/22/2012 @ 3:26pm EDT Said:

Hello Tom Dienhart. I just read your article about the Joe Paterno statue and I will gladly admit that I AM one of the JoePa bootlickers and loyalist. I was raised to be a PENN STATE fan and I could say Joe Paterno before I could say mama, I am even planning on going to college there next year. Joe paterno was not evil. He was not selfish. He was a good man and he was also someone I looked up to. We all make mistakes in our lives, even you do. and bad things do happen. But this was not his fault and now his legacy is gone. In your article you said some very rude and immature things about penn state and what happened. Its a very sensitive subject for a lot of people whether you are for or against Penn state, but still, have some respect. I know that the families of the victims are hurting and I feel awful that this whole thing happened, but did you ever think that writing hurtful and rude words would effect his family? He was more than just some football coach that wanted to be, in your words “immortal” he wanted to help everyone and he was a good man. You may never read this and I know that you will not care about what some little 17 year old girl has to say, but this is me standing up and speaking for the Penn State and Joe Paterno that are still there but too quiet to speak. WE ARE. PENN STATE

Heather on 7/22/2012 @ 4:00pm EDT Said:

The way in witch Penn State, Sports Networks and media and now the NCAA are handing down judgment or sentences on people who had nothing to do with the scandals involving Sandusky discusses me. I agree that the cover up by people at the University needs to be addressed but dismantling everything good Joe Paterno and his family did for the University and the State College community hurts everyone who had no part of those horrendous acts and many of the victims hurt by the acts of Sandusky.
I am a Penn State Alumni, but not at all a football fan or very religious. If the NCAA puts the death penalty on the Penn State Football team that would be like ordering every Catholic Church where similar acts occurred not to provide mass for their patrons for a year. This is ridiculous and no one would have asked for such a thing because even though this is a location in witch children were molested it is also a place where people come and try to heal. In many ways Football games at Beaver Stadium do the same thing for current students, Alumni, and Fans of the team. It brings people together and allows them to discuss and move on and reach for the future and leave the past behind them.
I am sure that what the victims of Sandusky want for them, is to heal and move on now that he is behind bars and when their suits are over. Everyone is saying that the Joe Paterno statue was removed to honor the victims and help them move on. I would like to hear from the victims themselves if this is what they wanted. I am sure that while Sandusky discusses them that many of the victims still had a lot of respect for Joe and the Paterno family just as I am sure that many of the victims of the Catholic church are still Catholic and still hold their faith dear to them because they know that this is not what hurt them the person is!
At this point many of the actions by the University the media, and whatever it is that the NCAA hands down tomorrow I feel are causing more damage then allowing the victims, alumni, and the State College Community to heal. If I were a victim I would want to stop hearing about it in general what is done is done and there is no going back and changing the past just moving forward. Stop making more changes and hurting more people by making it almost impossible to put it aside and move forward!

aroznowski on 7/22/2012 @ 7:09pm EDT Said:

Wow! Joe Paterno made a truly terrible mistake, but to call him “selfish”, “evil”, and a “false image” is flat out ridiculous. I am not a Penn State fan, but even I know that he did so much good that cannot simply be overlooked by folks with rational minds. This wasn’t merely a Joe Paterno problem. It was a Jerry Sandusky problem and an institutional problem. Throughout this entire saga, it seem as if the public has lost sight of the core of this mess, Jerry Sandusky and the innocent, wrongfully scarred victims of his abuse. As they say, “Time heals all.” I have moved on and forgiven Joe Pa of his mistake and continue to view him as the greatest head coach and one of the greatest people in the history of college football. Obviously there will always be that scar there as well that will never go away. Hopefully, more people will come to that realization as time goes on, resulting in Joe Paterno’s name and likeness being restored to awards, trophies (such as the Big Ten football championship trophy), scholarships, etc. With regard to the statue, the best place to put it is the library named in honor of Joe and Sue Paterno in my opinion. It would be the perfect prop for that place, and it would be in a controlled, secure facility. It wouldn’t be present for all to see at football games as the haters want, but it would still be available for viewing as much of the Penn State community wants. That seems like the perfect compromise to me. As for all of the folks that think that Penn State should get kicked out of the conference, give me a break! Anyone that knows and loves the conference as much as I do knows that is not the solution and that such an action would harm the conference more than it hurts it. How many other conferences can say that there is no current Division I school that was once a conference member but now is not? I would guess that the number is very small. The Big Ten is one of them. If Penn State were to be taken out of the conference, the two six-team divisions and conference championship game for football and the conference’s future sponsorship of men’s hockey would disappear too. At least it’s nice to see that there are some other rational minds on here compared to ESPN.com, which is infested with trolls galore.

MICHAEL JACKSON on 7/22/2012 @ 8:07pm EDT Said:

Ya. He reported it. Then the next day or so told them , his so called bosses, not to report to police. Don’t you think you left out an important detail Tony. Obviously a PSU fan! Wow!

Hawkeye on 7/22/2012 @ 10:50pm EDT Said:

He reported it to his “superiors” and then watched the man bring kids around the building for the next ten years…and what he never thought to ask why this man hadn’t been charged. Mike M. seems to have gotten off easy also, he tells JoePa and then watches this same man come around the building for years and never wonders why nothing was done…after watching what he did to that young boy in the showers. How can anyone defend JoePa by just saying he told his bosses. May he rot in hell.

nathan on 7/22/2012 @ 11:45pm EDT Said:

Why do apologists keep classifying what Joe did as a “mistake”? Seriously? Think about that. Joe didn’t make a mistake. He was part of a cover up of a child rapist. That’s not a mistake. That’s an intentional criminal decision. Take off you PSU blind e r s an d think abut what really happened here. Grown men in positions of power let down children that were raped and allowed more to be raped. THAT I S N OK T A MISTAKE so quit simplifying it as such.

InigoMontoya on 7/23/2012 @ 11:25am EDT Said:

“It’s unbelievable to think that kind of corruption came right from the top of the power structure. The NCAA did what it had to do” in canceling SMU’s 1988 football season.” – Joe Paterno in LA Times May 17, 1987, via United Press International

John M on 7/23/2012 @ 2:06pm EDT Said:

A mistake is when you err on something trivial. Covering up for a pedophile because you were concerned about your legacy is a little more than a mistake. It shows his true colors, and that the image that you bought into is nothing more than the facade of an evil man. The only thing sadder than the mindless support still of his legacy is the countless children that were violated after that animal was discovered

M.R.Sanders on 7/24/2012 @ 3:33pm EDT Said:

I see where all the EXPERTS at E$PIN,are all ready saying how this will weaken the BIG.That network has turned into The National Enquirer or cartoons,I can’t make up my mind.

ML on 7/24/2012 @ 6:12pm EDT Said:

Is anyone from Penn St. going accept what happened? Defending Joe Paterno is making yourself look like a idiot. People who say he did what he could by reporting it up the “chain of command” are delusional and really need to understand how the chain of command works and how to properly use it. But C’mon a man of his power didn’t use a freaking chain of command. So….. GET THIS THROUGH YOUR HEAD. JOE PATERNO KNEW THAT JERRY SANDUSKY WAS RAPING LITTLE BOYS AND DID NOTHING ABOUT IT.

aroznowski on 7/24/2012 @ 11:48pm EDT Said:

The term “poor choice” or “poor decision” is probably more appropriate than the term “mistake”. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I am looking at the entire “novel” of Joe Paterno’s life whereas many of you are only looking at one “chapter”. Joe Paterno screwed up and was not innocent, but he was also human. By no means was he evil as Tom DIenhart claims and rotting in hell as Hawkeye claims. Considering that Joe Paterno was Catholic and that he presumably was given last rites before his death thus cleansing him spiritually, there is very little, if any, chance that he is in hell, and it is a pretty safe bet that heaven is his eternal reward.