Nike founder Phil Knight: Paterno the real victim

“Whatever the details of the investigation are, this much is clear to me: There was a villain in this tragedy. It lies in the investigation, not in Joe Paterno’s response to it,” Knight said, prompting a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd in the Bryce Jordan Center on the Penn State campus.

The attempted absolution of Joe Paterno is obscene. He may have done many admirable things but don’t believe those who say judge not lest you be judged, at least not in this case.

If I was told that one of my charges had witnessed a colleague raping a 10-year-old my reaction would’ve been swift and certain. You would do the same, assuming you’re not a coward more concerned with your legacy than the health and welfare of defenseless children.

Paterno’s inaction speaks for itself. And as Victor Fiorillo points out, Paterno’s claim that he didn’t comprehend the concept of “rape and a man” is ludicrous.

Paterno was 75 in 2002. Are we really expected to believe that in those 75 years of life that he had never heard of men sexually abusing boys? Keep in mind that in the weeks prior to Paterno learning of the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal in Boston was blowing up all over the national news. In the days leading up to Paterno’s revealing meeting with Mike McQueary—the one where McQueary told him about the disturbing event he had witnessed in the shower—every major newspaper in the country and every television network was covering the tragic events in Boston. There’s no way that Paterno, a lifelong Catholic, was oblivious to these stories.

There was one person at Penn State in a position to put a stop to Sandusky’s alleged abuse of children, and that person was the most powerful, most well-regarded, most respected person on campus: Joe Paterno. But he didn’t. He “turned it over to some other people,” as he told the Post. I give him credit for fessing up to his failure when he said in a recent statement, “I wish I had done more.” But that only goes so far.

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6 thoughts on “Nike founder Phil Knight: Paterno the real victim

  1. “If I was told that one of my charges had witnessed a colleague raping a 10-year-old my reaction would’ve been swift and certain. You would do the same, assuming you’re not a coward more concerned with your legacy than the health and welfare of defenseless children.”

    Amen. That’s really all it boils down to.

  2. Viewing the situation through the eyes of the boy and his family puts Paterno’s “contributions” as a football coach into perspective.

  3. In our imaginations we all behave heroically when the situation demands. Reality, however, intrudes: we all act out of self-interest. Paterno did the same. Doesn’t make him a bad man, just a common one.

  4. There’s nothing heroic about wanting to see justice for children who have been raped. It’s basic decency. I’ll allow Paterno had done many fine things over his life but I’m confident I’d place a child’s welfare over protecting my “legacy” any day of the week. So would most people.

  5. For Paterno to surrender everything and face down his bosses, as well as his friends, to protect a 10 year old boy he never met, would have been heroic. He was less than that. He followed his self-interest. Most, though I concede not all, of us, would do the same.

  6. Face down the bosses — he was the boss. Joe Paterno was Penn State. All he had to do is follow up. He fired Sandusky — why? He didn’t want the program tainted.

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