Last night on NBC's new Rock Center program, retired Penn State defensive coordinator and ousted human being (Yes, I am ousting him from the human race) Jerry Sandusky did a phone interview with Bob Costas which accomplished the nearly impossible -- it made Sandusky infinitely more deplorable and creepy than he already was at the end of last week.
Somewhere yesterday, likely in a bizarro law office in Opposite-land, Sandusky and his attorney Joe Amendola decided that it would be a good idea for Sandusky, in the most skin crawl-inducing voice possible, to defend himself from charges of child rape on national television over the phone with the interview equivalent of Randy Johnson circa 1999 (the venerable Bob Costas) throwing the fastballs.
Bad idea. Really bad idea.
If you missed the interview, here is the video:
I watch that video and I'm still trying to wonder exactly what Sandusky and his attorney were looking to accomplish. If they were trying to evoke feelings of sympathy from America and cast doubt on whether or not Sandusky committed these heinous acts, the appearance was a colossal failure.
On the other hand, if they wanted to reaffirm just how perverted, twisted and lacking in self-awareness Sandusky is, and do so in a form that essentially amounted to a de facto verbal suicide note, then bravo! Mission accomplished, fellas!
Let's go through the transcript of the Costas-Sandusky interview with my reactions to each question or line of questioning as they unfolded:
Costas: "Mr. Sandusky, there's a 40-count indictment. The Grand Jury report contains specific detail. There are multiple accusers, multiple eyewitnesses to various aspects of the abuse. A reasonable person says, 'Where there's this much smoke, there must be plenty of fire.' What do you say?"
Sandusky: "I say that I am innocent of those charges."
Already, you can tell one sentence in what type of person we are dealing with here. His voice is shaky, programmed and he sounds like he might possibly be semi-sedated. Additionally, if you are one of Sandusky's numerous victims, the tone of his voice is probably so stomach-turning that it makes me ill imagining the Pavlovian reaction when they hear it.
Costas: "Innocent? Completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect?"
Sandusky: "Well I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg without intent of sexual contact. So if you look at it that way, there are things that would be accurate."
A couple things here -- first of all, the term "horsing around" has been killed. It's dead. No one is allowed to use "horse around" or refer to "horsing around" ever again. Sandusky has poisoned that phrase. Secondly, and a million times more importantly, let's assume for a second that Sandusky's answer above is truthful. Well, just showering with kids is not okay, let alone hugging and touching their legs. So in addition to "child rapist," Sandusky is quickly adding "terrible liar" to his résumé of dysfunction. All he needs to do now is drive drunk and shoot an innocent civilian and he'll have hit for the cycle!
Costas: "Are you denying that you had any inappropriate sexual contact with any of these underage boys?"
Sandusky: "Yes I am."
Costas: "Never touched their genitals? Never engaged in oral sex?"
Costas: "What about Mike McQueary, the grad assistant, who in 2002 walked into the shower where he says in specific detail that you were forcibly raping a boy who appeared to be 10- or 11-years old? That his hands were up against the shower wall and he heard rhythmic slap, slap, slapping sounds and he described that as a rape?"
Sandusky: "I would say that that's false."
"Rhythmic slap, slap, slapping sounds" is quite possibly the worst thing I've ever heard in my life. No exaggeration.
Costas: "What would be his motive to lie?"
Sandusky: "You'd have to ask him that."
We would love to, but McQueary has been placed in some form of child rape witness protection program.
Costas: "What did happen in the shower the night that Mike McQueary happened upon you and the young boy?"
Sandusky: "OK, we were showering and horsing around. And he actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor and we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel and horseplay."
When a ten-year-old kid sliding across the floor of a locker room shower is the least disgusting thing in a sentence, that's a terrible sentence.
Costas: "In 1998, a mother confronts you about taking a shower with her son and inappropriately touching him. Two detectives eavesdrop on her conversations with you and you admit that maybe your private parts touched her son. What happened there?"
Sandusky: "I can't exactly recall what was said there. In terms of what I did say was that if he felt that way then I was wrong."
Costas: "During one of those conversations, you said, 'I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness (speaking now with the mother). I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead.' A guy falsely accused or a guy's actions who have been misinterpreted doesn't respond that way."
Sandusky: "I don't know. I didn't say to my recollection that 'I wish I were dead.' I was hopeful that we could reconcile things."
"To my recollection" is a synonym for "not being able to remember," which is the empty lament of a cornered sociopath. Also, this is one timeframe in Sandusky's life that I was hoping Costas would delve into a little bit more. In 1998, there was obviously an incident, and the next year Sandusky unexpectedly "retired." I was hoping Costas would at least ask one question about why Sandusky left in 1998, although to be fair he makes up for this shortly after this with some hard questions about Joe Paterno's knowledge of the situation. Continuing....
Costas: "Shortly after that in 2000, a janitor said that he saw you performing oral sex on a young boy in the showers in the Penn State locker facility. Did that happen?"
Costas: "How could somebody think they saw something as extreme as shocking as that when it hadn't occurred and what would possibly be their motivation to fabricate it?"
Sandusky: "You'd have to ask them."
Sure, let's go find the janitor and learn more about his intricate plot to frame the already retired defensive coordinator for the football team. Because locker room janitors are usually that calculating and devious.
Costas: "It seems that, if all of these accusations are false, you are the unluckiest and most persecuted man that any of us has ever heard about?"
Sandusky: "I don't know what you want me to say. I don't think that these have been the best days of my life."
BINGO. For us to arrive at a place where we believe Sandusky is anything other than a kiddie-raping piece of shit, we have to convince ourselves that up to 20 kids (and if the number who have come out is 20, it means the actual number is much higher) and at least two eyewitnesses are lying, and have some sort of vendetta against Jerry Sandusky. Um, gee, I'm skeptical.
Costas: "To your knowledge, did Joe Paterno have any information regarding objectionable activities on your part prior to that report in 2002?"
Sandusky: "I can't totally answer that question. My answer would be no."
Costas: "Did Joe Paterno at any time ever speak to you directly about your behavior?"
Costas: "He never asked you about what you might have done. He never asked you if you needed help, if you need counseling."
Sandusky: "No. No. No."
Costas: "Never expressed disapproval of any kind?"
This is the one part of the interview that I actually believe, Paterno's passive disregard for Sandusky's behavior. This part seems sadly real and actual.
Costas: "How do you feel about what has happened to Penn State and to Joe Paterno and to the Penn State football program and your part in it?"
Sandusky: "How would you think that I would feel about a university that I attended, about people that I worked with, about people that I care so much about. How do you think I would feel about it? I feel horrible."
You know who else feels horrible? Every kid that you've raped, Jerry. They feel horrible, too. Much worse than you do for getting caught.
Costas: "You feel horrible. Do you feel culpable?"
Sandusky: "I'm not sure I know what you mean."
The one moment of comic relief -- Jerry Sandusky not knowing the meaning of the word "culpable." Dumb ass.
Costas: "Do you feel guilty? Do you feel as if it's your fault?"
Sandusky: "No I don't think it's my fault. I've obviously played a part in this."
Costas: "How would you define the part you played? What are you willing to concede that you've done that was wrong and you wish you had not done it?"
Sandusky: "In retrospect, I shouldn't have showered with those kids."
Costas: "That's it?"
Sandusky: "That's what hits me the most."
My follow-up to Sandusky after his saying that it's not his fault and that he played a part in this would have been "Who else's fault is this?" Seriously, the kids for "showering" and "horse playing" with him? Paterno for giving him the keys to the football facility? McQueary for catching him? The media for covering the story? Who else's fault could it be? Again, this question would apply even if all he did was "shower" with the children, which we know is complete and utter bullshit.
Then came the moment of truth....
Costas: "Are you a pedophile?"
Costas: "Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?"
Sandusky: "Am I sexually attracted to underage boys? Sexually attracted, you know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. But no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys."
What the transcript doesn't capture is the nearly two-second pause after Costas asked Sandusky if he was sexually attracted to underage boys. If you were looking for confirmation that Sandusky is, in fact, a pedophile, this answer gave you everything you needed.
Long pause after being asked? Check. Repeating the question to buy time to process how to lie? Check. Rationalization about "enjoying young people," à la Michael Jackson? Check. Stammering? Check. Stuttering? Check.
To be clear, when someone asks you if you're sexually attracted to young boys, the ONLY correct answer is a resounding "NO" within less than a second of being asked. That's it. Jerry Sandusky took 16 seconds to spew a meandering rationalization.
Um, PEDOPHILE? Check, check, check, check.
Costas: "Obviously, you're entitled to a presumption of innocence and you'll receive a vigorous defense. On the other hand, there is a tremendous amount of information out there and fair-minded, common sense people have concluded that you are guilty of monstrous acts. And they are particularly unforgiving with the type of crimes that have been alleged here.
And so, millions of Americans who didn't know Jerry Sandusky's name until a week ago, now regard you not only as a criminal, but I say this I think in a considered way, but as some sort of monster. How do you respond to them?"
Sandusky: "I don't know what I can say or what I could say that would make anybody feel any different now. I would just say that if somehow people could hang on until my attorney has a chance to fight for my innocence. That's about all I could ask right now. And obviously it's a huge challenge."
Actually, Jerry, this entire interview made me feel different about you. I thought it wasn't possible to despise you any more than I did, but applying your chilling, child molester voice and your trail of lies to this story actually made me do just that. So I DO feel differently about you, Jerry -- I hate you more.
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As for your attorney fighting for your innocence, Jerry....well, as the story goes, he knocked up a 16 year old when he was 49 years old. He wound up marrying and having another child with the woman before eventually divorcing her. At one point, the attorney professed your innocence by saying that he would allow his kids to be alone with you.
His ex-wife actually reacted on her Facebook page: "OMG did Joe just say that he would allow my kids to be alone with Jerry Sandusky?"
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game weekdays from noon to 3PM Central Time, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.