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Joe Paterno Dies of a Broken Heart

One of America’s greatest idols and sports leaders has died today. The immediate cause was cancer. We all know that the real cause was the unfair firing he experienced from the Penn State board of trustees.

Given how much Joe loved Penn State, the college students there, the State College community, and setting the high standards that most Americans quietly sought to emulate, Joe was broken hearted after receiving a scribbled note to make a call, and after making the call, being fired 40 seconds later, when he was hung up on.

Joe Paterno did not abuse the kids who Jerry Sandusky abused. He did not stand idly by while the horrors continued. Joe Paterno reported what he was told, within 24 hours, to his superiors, and was not responsible for what happened afterwards. He was one of the only people, maybe the only person who knew something, who actually acted on the information about Sandusky to someone in a position of power.  Since last November, Joe has been shouldering the entire incident, as though child and family services, The Second Mile, Curley and Shultz, the 1998 police investigation and unwillingness by the Centre County district attorney to press charges, and others are exonerated of what they knew and their failures to act over the years.  Blaming Joe is a dis-service.

Lots of people attacking Joe as though he was responsible demonstrates the failure of a large segment of American culture.

In the spirit of modern America, the faster a hero dies, the better we all feel about our own weaknesses and failings, as though our heroes weren’t really so superior after all.

Sure, Joe could have done more. Can’t we all say or do the same for something we have witnessed, like a car stalled by the side of the road that we pass by? A person struggling with heavy groceries, or bills? Someone engaged in nefarious behavior, but we look the other way because we “don’t want to get involved”?

Lots of arm chair sheriffs and would-be vigilantes have been spawned by the Sandusky scandal. Lots of “Why, I woulda socked him in the jaw, and then thrown him down, and then handcuffed him and led him to the police myself, if only I had been there…” Lots of that phony cyber hero crap, and that’s what it is, crap, has been written, not only out of frustration with Penn State’s failure to snag Sandusky early, but with Joe’s “moral failing” to do more.

Sure he could have done more. But so could the PSU board of trustees, long ago, when the first reports came out about Sandusky in 2002. By tearing down one of America’s great icons, the trustees enveloped themselves in a mantle of superiority…more crap.

Joe Paterno died of a broken heart because his one awww shucks destroyed an incredible 60-year career filled with nothing but atta-boys, with generous giving and building that set the highest standard for loyalty and commitment.

Joe deserved better than he got in the end, and he died from having his will to live broken. I will miss you, Joe, we all will miss you.

Rest in peace, hero.

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