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Joe Paterno Deserves To Pay For His Inaction

I remember where I was Ronald Reagan was shot. I remember where I was when the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean. I remember where I was when two airplanes hit the Twin Towers. I remember where I was when Twitter blew up with rumors that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

And I will always remember where I was when I finally read the grand jury report on the Jerry Sandusky case — sitting on my couch waiting for the Penn State Board of Trust press conference to begin. Up to that point, I had been reluctant to actually read the report. I knew, or at least thought I knew, the details. I didn’t. Until you actually comb through the report, you have no idea how horrific this case truly is. We’ve seen far too many scandals in collegiate sports over the years. This is the worst. It’s not even close.

Joe Paterno had to go. Right away. And if you disagree, you are wrong. The second he decided not to call the police after he was made aware of the now-famous “shower incident” in 2002 he lost the right to go out on his own terms. He’s fortunate that he lasted this long.

Late last night, over IM, I had a conversation with a friend. We both agreed that there is no way Paterno didn’t know that Sandusky was a pedophile. It’s hard to believe that you can work with a man for three decades and not realize that he is having inappropriate contact with young boys. Most people are pointing to the shower incident, in ’02, as the time when Paterno first became culpable.

But it goes back further than that. There were previous signs that something wasn’t right with Sandusky — he admitted to a boy’s mother in 1998 that he had showered with her son!

Paterno simply had to know. Shame on him.

So now, one of the most revered coaches in any sport, is out of a job. Thankfully, the Penn State Board of Trust didn’t give Paterno the dignity of finishing the season as the head coach at Penn State.

This might sound cruel, but as a father myself, I think Paterno deserves to suffer. He has to live with the decisions he made — or didn’t make. It’s unfortunate that a man who helped so many for so many years will be remembered for this tragedy. But it’s his own fault. With one phone call to the police on any number of occasions over many years, Paterno could have put an end this horrific episode.

By Mitch Light