Yesterday Joe Paterno died. When someone dies we almost always look for the the good they leave behind. It’s our nature. However, yesterday as I watched the news break on Twitter and Facebook, I noticed that reaction to his death was one of the most polarizing events I’ve ever witnessed. People wanted to talk about his “legacy” and many of those who scorned him just a few months ago were now remembering Coach Paterno for all the good he’s done over the years.
This article, “Joe Patern’s Legacy Outweighs Scandal” has well over 3,000 comments as I write this. Each comment the polar opposite of the one before it. One reader responded with the following:
“Great read… it’s refreshing and inspiring to read someone who understands that while he admits he made a mistake, one mistake shouldn’t forego his 61+ years of dedication, and the tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of lives he touched and helped improve.”
Another weighs in with this:
“No. Scandal outweighs legacy you idiot. People are more important than football.”
People keep arguing about whether or not his failure to expose the rape of innocent children can be somehow offset by his 61 years of being a great coach and mentor. Personally it’s not even a question worth debating but it’s not my opinion that matters.
Ask the parents of the victims whether they’ll remember the generous donations Paterno made to Penn State or the sleepless nights their children spent blaming themselves for what went wrong.
Ask the victims whether they’ll remember 409 career wins or the shame stemming from those unspeakable events in a State College locker room.
In a Washinton Post interview that took place just over a week ago, Joe Paterno said of the abuse, “In hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
So do we, Joe Paterno. That could have been your legacy.