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Keidel: Paterno's Pantheon

By Jason Keidel
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As America celebrates her birthday this week, we are reminded of the solemn truths that befall our republic. And nowhere was the American Dream more desecrated than in State College, Pennsylvania, the home of horrors for the last fifteen years, fourteen of which were camouflaged with football, our most beloved sport.

And Joe Paterno, it turns out wasn't Mr. Magoo, blind and banging into walls while peripheral elements ran the show behind his formerly beloved back. No, it turns out Jerry Sandusky got more help from his head coach than you thought.

It's no secret that I declared a very public and often violent verbal war with Penn State and Joe Paterno - specifically, the Paterno Apologist, an army of millions who defended a broken old man under the perilous premise that a geriatric who won a few football games gets carte blanche to run his world as he sees fit, even at the risk of a child's sanctity.

It seemed logical to a few of us with the balls to say it, that it would be impossible for Jerry Sandusky to rape children on Penn State's campus with impunity without a little help from his friends. I was eviscerated for that stance, called every vulgarity in the catalogue.

Sure, we were all simpatico on Sandusky, an unspeakably evil man to whom no vile adjective properly applied. But to go after the beloved, sainted, sanctified "JoePa" was to go after God himself, a sacrilege of biblical contours.

Now, with the guyser of galling reports, from Deadspin to CNN to The New York Times - all of which putting Paterno at the vortex of the massive and maudlin coverup of Jerry Sandusky, America's most renowned and reviled child rapist - the Paterno Apologist is in full retreat, buried miles below his misguided self-righteousness.

Now it seems that Paterno not only knew about Sandusky from the jump, he talked his "superiors" - who are titular bosses only - out of stopping Sandusky's historic campus crime wave.

To all those who defended Paterno until his death and beyond, read this nugget from The New York Times, citing CNN and former F.B.I. director Louis Freeh's independent investigation…

"The Penn State e-mails, according to the person with knowledge of the Freeh investigation, indicate that Spanier, Curley and Schultz seemed at one point to favor reporting the assault to the state child welfare authorities, recognizing that if they did not, they could later be vulnerable to charges that they had failed to act.

But in one e-mail, Curley write that after talking to Paterno, he no longer wanted to go forward with that plan."

That plan, and that man, your cherished, cherubic coach Joseph Paterno, thwarted the apprehension of a child rapist. This is the man you've been defending for the last eight months. Are you proud? "We are Penn State!" and such?

It is true that Paterno's death was sad and most ill timed. He took the easy stroll from the court, both legal and public, a crucible too hot for the cold, obdurate old man who used football to shield the shameful, satanic conduct going on under his prodigious nose.

No doubt the weakening ranks of Paterno's battalion will still fight on, like the last soldier in Berlin, long after your leader has removed himself from battle, a suicide of sorts. Who has no brothers left on the beach he defends, tethered to the propaganda, the echo's last octave. At least he still thinks he's a hero because he's following orders.

There's nothing more pathetic than the hubris of the defeated. To you, the sad soul who still stands on some warped prerogative, this from Deadspin, quoting an NCAA investigator...

"I am in awe. It's not a lack of institutional control. The university did everything it could to control things, including sacrificing innocent children. If we attempt to levy sanctions then Penn State will not only get the death penalty, we'll have to burn the place to the ground."

Indeed. This is what the more lucid legions advocate. And if they won't say it, I will.

Dismantle Penn State football. Eviscerate it, go Barry Goldwater napalm on the place. There should never be another game in "Happy Valley" - a misnomer of the highest order.  You mean to tell me that SMU, whose greatest crime was kickbacks, got wiped off the football map for a decade, but Penn State should just resume their idyllic intonations as if nothing happened?

Only the most twisted among us wants them to play football on that spiritual graveyard, where a football player will trip over a tombstone or two. No, there are too many ghosts, the wrong kind of apparition, hovering the halls of Penn State, to allow this nightmare to perpetuate.

At some point every child wanted some superpower. For today, at least, I'd like to be Superman, and spin around the globe so fast as to lurch time back ten months. I'd then land on Paterno's porch for a little chat. For the first time in decades, he'd tell the truth, and maybe a few dozen children would still have their childhoods.

If there is a Heaven and Hell, we know where Jerry Sandusky will spend eternity. And now we know one of his neighbors, a man we so fondly pondered for decades, before the decadence.

Feel free to email me:

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