Joe Paterno lost his battle with lung cancer yesterday. I don't mind the outpouring of grief on the Penn State campus. I fully understand the praise he's getting for all the good he's done throughout his lifetime. After all, when someone passes, it's human nature to remember them fondly, and focus on their positive aspects.
But there's a line between grief and blind fanaticism. There's a line between emphasizing his positives, and denying that he had any negatives. And some have crossed that line. Todd Blackledge essentially spray-painted it blue and white. Here's what he had to say:
"I know the cancer took its toll. The treatment took its toll and had a part to play in it. His age and his frailty had a part to play in it. But I think as much as anything else, Joe Paterno died of a broken heart today. And I think there were a lot of people that had a part to play in that. Whether it be the Board of Trustees and the way they handled his situation. Even the media, and the way they covered everything over the last several months. I just think that was as much a part of him dying today as anything else. And that hurts my heart."
At least he admits that the 85 year old guy died partially due to cancer.
This is one word short of accusing the Penn State trustees and ESPN of being accessories to murder. These blind supporters of his can't even admit that his death was a normal human death.
Jordan Norwood called him "one of the most influential men in our nations history [sic]."
Wasn't it Martin Luther King Day last week? And don't we celebrate Washington and Lincoln's birthdays soon? I know these guys didn't win any national titles in the 80's, but maybe Paterno's impact on national history is small, even trivial.
Mike Ditka called him a "true hero," which was echoed by a Penn State student on ESPN who said quite simply "He's a hero."
Don't we have men and women in our armed services fighting and dying for us? Don't we have firefighters and cops? Don't we have people who call the cops when they hear about old men taking showers with young boys?
Paterno was not a hero. Even without the recent scandal, he was never a hero. He might have been a great leader and teacher, but not a hero. Heroes risk something. Heroes sacrifice.
He could have been a hero to some kids, but he decided that informing his AD was sufficient heroism for one day.
"It's kind of tragic that they [Penn State] weren't able to do something nice for him before he passed. It's kind of a shame..." That's what a fan on SportsCenter said.
It's kind of tragic that Paterno wasn't able to do something nice for some kids before their lives were ruined. It's a shame that even in death, he is still worshiped as a demigod, and not a man. His contributions deserve praise, and the people he's affected should mourn him. One mistake cannot define a man. It's okay to grieve him and emphasize the positive. But to address and summarily dismiss the negative is asinine, ignorant, and annoying.
I wouldn't mind if guys like Blackledge ignored the scandal in their time of grief. But to attribute his death to the Board of Trustees and the media is simply moronic.