The seven foot bronze Joe Paterno statute that currently resides outside Beaver Stadium on Penn State University’s campus should be torn down immediately.
Yesterday, a detailed report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh was released to the public, which outlined how former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was allowed carte blanche on Penn State’s campus to abuse children for over a decade.
On at least two occasions, in 1998 and 2001, there were clear signs that Sandusky was sexually abusing kids and nothing was done – all the while the four most powerful men on the PSU campus: President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and head coach Paterno, knew of the abuse and failed to protect children from Sandusky.
Not only did they turn a blind eye, but these men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities.
Now, many will say the statue is a reminder of the football legacy Joe Pa led for the last 50 years and it should stay up to honor him as a coach. But the flip side to that coin says that Joe Pa’s football legacy won’t ever be forgotten and the statute only serves as a reminder to what he didn’t do, which was report Sandusky the moment he found out he was abusing children.
Paterno’s silence not only caused pain and suffering to numerous children, but his reluctance to expose Sandusky calls his very character into question.
Putting the football program ahead of the welfare of children was stupid, wrong, and Joe Pa, along with the President, Athletic Dir. and Vice President, should have known better. They weren’t thinking about the kids, but about the number of wins and losses.
The decisions we make in life will always affect ourselves as well as others, and Joe Pa made a bad decision. If he would have turned Sandusky over to authorities when the first reports of abuse were raised, his legacy would have expanded beyond football; he would have been responsible for saving many other children who Sandusky abused in later years.
So tearing down the statue wouldn’t be a form of justice, but a start in rebuilding a once proud university and turning a page on a moment in PSU history that won’t be forgotten.
Nike has already removed Joe Paterno’s name off their Child Development Center on its Oregon campus.
Nike President Mark Parker said in a statement:
“I have been deeply saddened by the news coming out of this investigation at Penn State. It is a terrible tragedy that children were unprotected from such abhorrent crimes. With the findings released today, I have decided to change the name of our child care center at our World Headquarters. My thoughts are with the victims and the Penn State community.”
So as Nike did, Penn State should follow suit and tear down Joe Pa’s statue Iraqi-style, like when American soldiers charged into Baghdad and watched the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s likeness.
Joe Pa’s statute only serves as a symbol for his football legacy, that’s all! And like George Carlin once said, “I leave symbols to the symbol-minded.”
Tear it down.
Shaka Griffith is the News/Politics Editor of GlobalGrind.com Follow him on Twitter @Darealshaka