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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not so Happy Valley anymore

For almost six decades, he was a beacon of football excellence. He was the one coach you wanted your kid to play for. He was the father figure and eventually the grandfather figure of the sport.

Joe Paterno was Penn State football. With the Coke-bottle glasses, the windbreaker and tie and referee shoes, Paterno had an image that was larger than life. He represented everything that was good about college football. He wasn't a blowhard. He wasn't a braggart. He never had a single NCAA violation and never even a hint of impropriety in a sport that has been filled with cheaters, liars and basically bad guys.

Now, even in death, Paterno's image is forever tarnished, even ruined. The findings of an extensive report, compiled by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, brought down all the good, shot down all the victories and the all-time coaching victory record. The 267-page report, which is available online and is downright sickening, took Paterno's 61-year career and flushed it right down the toilet.

It was learned Thursday that Paterno did know about the horrific actions of his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, knew that Sandusky was indeed a distgusting pedophile since 1998 and turned his back on the incidents, hoping it would all just simply go away.

The report finds that Paterno "followed Sandusky's actions closely and failed to take action." It continued to say that Paterno and three of his hierarcy at Penn State also failed to report Sandusky to the authorities.

It certainly gives some credence to the fact that Sandusky was actually forced into retirement as an assistant coach after they received news of his disgusting actions. But if that's the case, why wasn't he banished forever? How in the world could these people allow Sandusky to continue his predatory stance on the Penn State campus, bringing victims to practices and bowl games, holding his camp, which was basically a breeding ground for his newest prey, right there, right under their noses?

I understand that Paterno is now deceased and cannot answer for his actions. But the release of this report today is so totally damning _ not just to Paterno's lasting legacy, but to the other three school officials who are still around and will eventually have to face the music, either in criminal or civil court.

The liability that the school now has with these victims is unreal. The civil suits will eventually cost the school _ and the state of Pennsylvania, meaning the state's taxpayers _ hundreds of millions of dollars.

And for what? To protect a sick pedophile? Was it done so Paterno could keep his job and keep on winning, pretending that nothing ever happened? How could the remaining three look at themselves in the mirror, knowing they fully well knew something in 1998, allowed it to continue, and then heard horrific stories about Sandusky continuing to prey upon little boys?

It is clearly the sickest story I've ever heard in sports anywhere. I've heard of cases of sexual child abuse, where a coach was found to do something wrong or act in an inappropriate manner and the incident is addressed and handled right away.

But in this case, where it was totally ignored? And ignored by the winningest coach in the history of the sport?
There are some things that have to happen right now. Jay Paterno has to stay off television, defending his father, because he looks like a complete fool now, calling his father "Joe" and saying that his father clearly didn't intentionally do anything wrong. It doesn't work. JoePa's legacy is trash now. Nothing can save it.

Secondly, Matt Millen has completely embarrassed himself, defending JoePa all day on ESPN. Millen cannot continue to defend Paterno's legacy anymore. It's downright sickening. Millen has to read Freeh's report, word for word, and then realize that the approach he's taken is making him look like a clown. The less said, the better.

It's amazing how a legend and an icon can fall so quickly. It happened to Pete Rose. It happened, of course, to O.J. Simpson. Those two are still around to see, hear and feel their disgrace. Sure, we're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but you can't ignore what Paterno did the way that Paterno ignored what Sandusky did. It's never going to go away. Never.

So Dwight Howard isn't going to be a member of the Brooklyn Nets anytime soon. I've never been more disgusted with a story that never happened like this one. This selfish clown, who used to also have a pristine image, has held an entire league hostage _ and the people who make a living from the NBA for that matter _ worse than the Iranians held those Americans hostage in 1979-80.

Howard is certainly not a Superman any more, after he demanded the Orlando Magic to trade him to the Nets and only the Nets. This comes after playing this same charade for the past year, then pulling back the idea that he wanted to get traded in order to play out his contract, then renegging on that idea by demanding a trade again. This is the same guy who demanded that a good basketball man like Stan Van Gundy get fired, then has held five teams, countless team officials, hundreds of sportswriters and mankind in general hostage to meet his whims and demands.

Howard is still with the Magic. As Derrick Coleman once said, "Whoop-de-damn-doo." Who cares right now? But every day, we're totally saturated with the latest Howard rumor going here or there, reading about a five-team deal involving more players than the Octomom has kids, then it all goes away.

Enough of it already. It's beyond the point of annoyance.

As for the ESPYs, if anyone thinks that Tim Tebow's touchdown pass was a better moment than the last day of the baseball regular season last year or that the Miami Heat had a better team effort than that of the New York Giants, please just get Dr. Kevorkian's IV drip ready for me, because I'm ready to cash in the chips.

The show used to be entertaining at least. But it's evident that ESPN is obsessed these days with Tebow and LeBron James to the point where you can't go 15 minutes without hearing one's name or the other.

The voters? No, it was the network.

However, the tributes to Pat Summitt and my man Eric LeGrand were downright heartwrenching and brought tears to my eye. If there's ever been a kid who will beat this paralysis, it's Eric, whose personality has not changed one iota despite his horrific injury. His body may have changed, but his mind, spirit and impeccable smile has not. It was fitting that he received an award that was named after another famous Rutgers alum, Jim Valvano.

God bless Eric and BELIEVE52 for making us all believe and feel better about ourselves and our lives. He's truly an inspiration to everyone on this planet.

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