On Sunday morning at 9:25 a.m. EST, legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno was pronounced dead at the age of 85 after losing a swift battle with lung cancer.
As you all know, Paterno had spent the waning moments of his existence as one of the more polarizing figures in sports as college football fans everywhere struggled to balance a lifetime of generosity and good works with one colossal mistake, that being Paterno's failure to take action following an eyewitness account of his longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's molesting a young boy in the showers of Paterno's football facility.
Predictably, the criticism of Paterno took a hiatus this weekend as many luminaries in the college football world were asked their thoughts about the man who basically built Penn State University as we know it.
I didn't know Paterno, so given the complexity of his body of work, I'll leave the eulogy to those experts. One person who should have done likewise?
For some reason, the child-molesting monster that is Sandusky thought that the world needed to know his feelings on the passing of Paterno, so somewhere in between trips to the window to gaze longingly at the elementary school playground 1,000 feet from his house (yes, that's a fact), he cobbled together this statement and issued it through his attorney:
"This is a sad day! Our family, Dottie and I would like to convey our deepest sympathy to Sue and her family. Nobody did more for the academic reputation of Penn State than Joe Paterno. He maintained a high standard in a very difficult profession. Joe preached toughness, hard work and clean competition. Most importantly, he had the courage to practice what he preached. Nobody will be able to take away the memories we all shared of a great man, his family, and all the wonderful people who were a part of his life."
My reactions to the statement, piece by piece:
"This is a sad day!" Exclamation points are typically used to denote some kind of interjection, like anger or surprise. My sense is that the death of a beloved figure does not fall into either category. Sandusky apparently disagrees, as a somber, sad moment to him requires written yelling.
(Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine crushes Jake Jarmel for his inability to properly utilize exclamation points? She was actually angry that Jake didn't use one to convey the excitement of one of her friends having a baby. Well, Elaine Benes would LOVE the haphazard use of exclamation points by one Jerry Sandusky.)
"Our family, Dottie and I would like to convey our deepest sympathy to Sue and her family." Odds on Sandusky's wife being named "Dottie" were approximately -250, just ahead of Mertle, Trudy and Agnes. Also, odds on shag carpet, linoleum, and wood paneling in Sandusky's house are each -500.
"He maintained a high standard in a very difficult profession....Most importantly, he had the courage to practice what he preached." Yeah, he did, except for that one time when he was notified that you were raping kids in the shower of his football facility, Jerry. Then he completely shrunk from the moment, out of either ignorance or arrogance. Regardless, the one time we all know about that he did not practice what he preached led to the downfall of the entire university. All because you're a sick, sociopathic monster.
"Nobody will be able to take away the memories we all shared of a great man, his family and all the wonderful people who were a part of his life." Actually, those memories have been under siege from the second your little secret was revealed, and I would say that they've been very much "taken away from" the Penn State community. In fact, it took Paterno's dying for those positive memories to get a day's peace from his conscious decision to allow you to continue to walk the streets and spread your life-stealing brand of evil.
So a remarkable, yet ultimately flawed, life came to an end on Sunday morning. Some would say that karma acted swiftly and caught up to Joe Paterno, but I think that's a little too harsh.
I just think karma got the wrong guy. For now.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.