Paterno’s legend ends in Penn State boardroom
How many football wins does it take to balance the books for one broken child? How about for eight, or 15, or 20 children? Will 409 do it, or would Joe Paterno’s 410th, if he could have lasted long enough to get it, have made all the difference?
How many millions of dollars contributed by a coach to his university does it take to cancel out one tragically flawed, cynical decision, nine years ago, that protected The Brand at the cost of one forever damaged preteen, who was being sacrificed to save it.
How long past his usefulness could a football coach expect to stay employed before he risked eroding all the good he has done in his career and his life, risked being viewed as a vain old man wielding his immense power to fight off all attempts to take it away?
I don’t suppose these questions are entirely fair — nothing is quite as black-and-white as it seems, not even the multi-layered horror of the Jerry Sandusky story — and I’m mortally certain that none of the faithful who gathered outside Joe Paterno’s home Tuesday night in State College, Pennsylvania, who rallied in vain for St. Joe on the Penn State campus, who no doubt rioted Wednesday night in the wake of his firing, will ever be moved to ponder the answers.
Unconditional fandom plus “Be True To Your School” plus mythologization of a coach and a football program adds up to a level of credulity that evidently cannot be dented even by news of the most unspeakable crimes unfolding in these supporters’ very midst by the people they have deified. (Photo: Tim Shaffer/Reuters)