Dienhart: Remember Lessons, Not Statue
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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