On the Death of Paterno

I’ve said some pretty harsh things about Penn State in the past couple of months, and I stand by all of them. The university absolutely disgraced itself in a way that I don’t think I can ever forgive, as numerous people actively participated in the coverup of a serial child rapist who was caught red-handed and allowed to roam free for another decade. And then students rioted not over the abuse, but over how Joe Paterno was treated.
That said, I am of course sorry that Joe Paterno is dead, and I am sorry that he had to suffer. He was by all accounts a decent and honorable man, who sadly made a catastrophic decision late in life that will unfortunately forever taint his legacy.
This reminds me a lot of Kirby Puckett, also a universally beloved, larger-than-life athletic figure who had a shockingly horrible fall from grace followed not too long after by his death. Us Twins fans had a pretty complex reaction to Puckett’s death- and the tarnishing of that previously perfect legacy is part of what we were sad about. I’d imagine that, other than the most obtuse Penn State fans, that’s what happening here.

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