By: Eric Thomas
Penn State still seems to be weaving in the wake of the Freeh report last week. They trotted out the board of trustees who seemed unprepared at best. They faced a line of cameras and all did a blurry version of murmurs and blinking. It’s a tough thing to do. Your instinct is to lash out at those who would do your meal ticket harm, but in light of the ‘pedophile’ situation they must stand under Klieg lights for their whipping. I imagine the trustees had to bury their feelings. Forced to stand on national television hiding behind a mask of stoicism, they hid a hurricane of shame, disappointment and betrayal. They need to pull it together and welcome the death penalty with open arms. It will be the best thing for them.
The nation is watching and those with their hand on the scythe know that. The NCAA is perched, waiting to deliver the sentence. There is little doubt, to me anyway, that Penn State will get the death penalty. The 24-hour media means that judgment is rendered without perspective or consideration. You are either for something or against something and there is little time for meditation. I don’t agree with this. In fact, I think that the death of debate and discussion is one of the most depressing developments in society today. Part of the foundation of this country was standing up to the ignorance of the bloodthirsty mob. It’s like we have some kind of deference for decisive animals these days. Nonetheless, if you assign anything other than the harshest form of punishment, you are hung with a sign that says ‘defending pedophiles’.
Penn State has to understand that JoePa et al. did this to themselves. There is no reason to stand in any truculence to the wave. It seems like the football world, especially college, is waking up and rubbing their eyes to what we all know to be the case. A lot of people are struggling with the idea that Paterno’s decades of goodwill has been erased with one decision. Football has been elevated to religion for many people (this writer included at times), and when a Seraph falls as far as this one has they struggle with what it means. It makes their own accomplishments seem mortal and fragile. They are coming to the conclusion that statues can be taken down and removed from the halls of fame.
Yes, the statue should come down. They can bury it with him. When you do, it will serve as a lesson to everyone who watches. It proves once and for all that actions have consequences. No matter whom you are and what you worship, you are not above a community and its outrage. There was a pall of confidence at Penn State. Support of those around him was a foregone conclusion, as he was their messiah. Remember, Paterno’s answer for ‘how to heal the wounds’ of his community was to continue coaching the football team. The longer the trustees and faculty curl fingers around this phylactery, the worse it’s going to get.
If Penn State is pasted with the death penalty, they will have been given a gift. Some inmates who ride the needle embrace it enthusiastically, and view it as the only penance they can perform to soothe the sting of their sins. State College should adopt this view. If they are allowed to continue without paying a penalty, the pallor will hang in the history of the University. As Mike Vick would probably tell you, it’s best to get the punishment out of the way. Serve the penalty and your sins are absolved, or live in the purgatory of constant judgment forever.
Embrace the punishment. Agree with it. This will be with the Nittany Lions forever, but at least you can shrug and say afterward, ‘I did my time.