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Joe Paterno: Not a martyr

On November 28, 2011

In the hours following Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's firing by the Penn State Board of Trustees because of his inaction regarding former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky's multiple molestations of young boys, something surreal happened.

Thousands of Penn State students organized outside of Paterno's house and one of the major buildings on the campus, Old Main, to….show support for Joe Paterno.

Now granted, a vigil was held for Sandusky's victims a couple of days later.

But the first impulse of most of the students upon hearing this news was to support the coach. A coach, who regardless of what was going through his head, did not do nearly enough to prevent the actions of a pedophile who terrorized young, innocent children for years.

And yet, chants of "Joe Paterno" rang throughout that night, as if they were oblivious to what was really going on. Either that or they had their priorities severely messed up.

Paterno had a profound impact on the Penn State campus for 60 years, and he established many emotional ties there. But at the end of the day, he was a football coach, and it seemed like that's what took precedence, which is sad.

No one is dismissing all the good Paterno did.  However, the moment he chose not to report Sandusky to the police removed any connection it had to football.

There's no way Paterno could have remained at Penn State, or coached another game. There's no rational explanation he could give as to why he didn't call the police after finding out what Sandusky did.

Paterno is not the only one who deserves blame. Former Penn State Vice President Tim Curley and Athletic Director Gary Schultz swept Sandusky's actions under the rug. Penn State President Graham Spanier aided in the cover-up as well.

But, Paterno is not a martyr. He is not a scapegoat. He is a man whose actions or lack thereof, led to grave consequences for countless victims of Sandusky.

Unless his mind is truly feeble, he knew what he was doing, and he has to live. He doesn't deserve hero worship, because when he was really needed, he failed miserably.

For that, he deserves little to nothing.

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