Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
When does a week feel like a year?
When does a week feel like a lifetime?
It was only last Thursday, just a week ago, when we all found out what Louis
Freeh had to say about Penn State.
Just a week ago that we learned that the legendary Joe Paterno was instead a
Why does it seem like so much longer ago?
Maybe it's because the Freeh (former FBI Director Louis) report - something
Penn State paid him to do, that had to hurt - has been dissected and trisected
by everyone everywhere.
Especially here. And here is in Pennsylvania, about three hours from Happy
Valley as the crow flies, but right around the corner as far as the Nittany
Lion influence is concerned.
The debate rages on.
The apologists, and yes, despite the heinous crimes committed by Jerry
Sandusky and covered up by Paterno and his cronies, there are apologists left,
would love to see things remain the same and have the Nits run out of the
tunnel in a few weeks.
And then there are those who want the death penalty handed down, stopping the
Nits in their tracks for the foreseeable future.
Put me in the latter group. When the lid was finally pried off the Penn State
can, and it took nearly 15 years for it to happen, and all of the worms
escaped, the decision to think death penalty wasn't a hard one.
Thankfully, because of the dogged work of a 24-year old reporter for the
Harrisburg Patriot-News named Sara Ganim, who won the Pulitzer Prize because
of it, the whole terrible Sandusky mess was uncovered.
That couldn't have been easy and if she hadn't have done it we may never have
known. Paterno took it to his grave and the others involved weren't about to
start chirping, that's for sure.
The cone of silence (that's a Get Smart reference for all of you older folks
with taste) Paterno had over Happy Valley was legendary.
Talk to the sports writers from the local newspaper, The Center Daily Times,
and ask them what it was like trying to find out anything about the Penn State
football program. Stonewalled at every turn.
Heck, I have two good ones of my own from a few years back.
A colleague at an old newspaper we worked at was sent to a Penn State football
game to talk to two local kids playing for the Nittany Lions. Both were way
down the depth chart, and neither played in the game he attended, but they
were on the team and that alone was good enough for the old "local boys done
good" kind of story.
Or so we thought. When he asked the Penn State PR guy if he could talk to both
players after the game he was told no problem.
The game ended, another Penn State win, but the players he hoped to talk to
were nowhere to be found. When he asked the PR guy what was up, he was told
that Joe didn't think it was a good idea.
A year or two later, while yours truly was working on a story on another local
boy on the Nittany Lions - this one a second-string center - I was able to
turn the tables. And cause a furor.
When I called the Penn State PR department (actually the Sports Information
office which is the same thing) I asked if I could speak to the offensive line
coach to get some comments about my second stringer.
"Let me see what I can do," I was told. "But you can't talk to the player."
That's OK, I said. I already did. His mother had given me his dorm number and
I just called him.
"You can't do that, Joe's going to be mad."
I don't care was my response because I knew you wouldn't let me talk to him so
I had to do it myself.
"Well, you can't put the story in the paper."
Well, yes we did, but the point is made.
Paterno micromanaged everything and any and all information coming out about
his football program was run by him. If he didn't like it, the world never
Until now, when his image and legacy have been ruined.
Until now, when any mention of Penn State, today, and 20 years from now, will
raise an eyebrow.
That little saying about absolute power and how it corrupts absolutely, put it
on the side of Beaver Stadium.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.