I won't bore you with the an in-depth analysis of the details that we have already discovered. We know that Joe Pa knew about the Sandusky incident in 1998. That fact alone means that, even if the coach always believed in his defensive coordinator and friend's innocence, he lied to a grand jury. That fact alone means that the 2001 conversation the coach had with Mike McQueary should have set off a field full of red flags in his conscience. That fact alone means that the coach allowing Sandusky to use his football facility for the next decade makes him a co-conspirator to some of the most heinous crimes that have ever come to our attention. That fact alone makes Paterno someone who would cover up the most serious of transgressions to protect the image of his program, his university, himself.
In the end that leaves the Joe Paterno believers, of which I was once among the most vehement, with one question and one question only: what makes a man the person that he is? Is it 60-years of faithful service, 60-years of steadfast dedication to a cause, 60-years of life changing leadership? Or is it one disgraceful act that begot another that begot another that eventually made Joe Paterno, at the very, very least, a knowful bystander in one of the most disgusting manifestations of human sickness the world of sports has ever seen? Is it six plus decades of molding young men's character, or is it a pattern of what Freeh calls "callous disregard" that kept even younger men from ever being able to fully realize their's? How can we rectify what we know about Joe Paterno the teacher, the mentor, the coach with what we now know about Joe Paterno the allower of sin and life ruining abuse?
I am not sure that we can. To say Paterno's resume is marred would be an understatement. To say Paterno's statue carries subtext and disturbing symbolism would be an underexaggeration. To say that Paterno the man we all knew is forever buried, both literally and figuratively, is a statement that we can all deny or agree with without ever really knowing what the truth is.
Because--outside of the victims and their families, who have earned the prayers and heartfelt condolences from a shocked nation--the truth lies with a group of men who knew Paterno best; who put their faith in the coach and were often rewarded for it by becoming better sons, fathers and husbands. The truth lies with the men who got to see behind person behind the image.
Right now no one can tell Joe Paterno's former players how to feel. Some believe they were deceived. Some are appauled and saddened. Some are loyal defenders who, while certainly not just forgiving their disgraced leader, still can remember the man they once knew in State College.
For now, we all realize that, when Joe Paterno was faced with the greatest challenge of his lifetime, the greatest test of his character, he failed miserably. We all understand that our image of Joe Paterno as the morally forthright guide for the virtue of college athletics is a sham.
We all know that, on the occasion that it mattered most, Joe Paterno lied. He lied to the justice system. He lied to the people he should have been protecting. He almost certainly lied to himself.
Joe Paterno is a liar, but does that make Joe Paterno the man a lie? I don't know. I am not the man to condemn or champion him.
The answer lies in the soul of a man currently buried underneath the Earth, and the people who knew him best. The answer lies in the heart and minds of the men whom he shaped into Penn State football players.
Time will continue to tick. Facts will continue to come out. We will all gain some perspective and be better able to judge the man's legacy in a year, or two or 15. But we will never know the man who was a sinner and a saint; a foundation for principle and a betrayer of the very ideals that he championed. Only a select few did. Only a select few will know, one way or another, what we never can.
We all know that their coach is dead. We all know what we will bring up first when discussing his life.
Only they will know if the rest of the story is really worth telling or not.