Joe Paterno, the late Penn State football coach whose legacy was tarnished by a child sex abuse scandal involving a team colleague, will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
The university announced that the ceremony will take place in October 2015.
Any adult American football fan knows Paterno was a legend: he coached at Penn State for 62 years, chalked up 409 victories, 2 national championships and induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. He also helped produce dozens of nationally recognized scholar-athletes, eventually achieving an 87% NCAA graduation success rate in the year before his passing due to cancer on Jan. 22, 2012.
Then came the Jerry Sandusky scandal, with former Assistant Coach Sandusky’s conviction of 45 counts of molesting at least 8 little boys. Paterno and Penn State’s president were both fired. Paterno intended to retire after the 2011 season but was fired with 3 games to go due to the scandal. Though never criminally charged, Paterno was blamed for failing to report Sandusky’s criminal behavior to the proper authorities and for covering up the crimes. It was as though the University and the Sports World tried to blot him out: his statue was removed from campus and his name was removed from trophies, awards and conferences.
I think the maelstrom broke that guy, who was already in his 80s. Within 2 months of his firing, Paterno died of lung cancer.
Four years after his firing, humiliation and death, the condemnation seems to be lightening and Paterno is being honored again. Now Paterno’s condemnation is deemed by some a rush to judgment forced by a ravenous media. It will be interesting to see whether the harsh judgment of Joe Paterno will continue to ease or whether there will be a strong backlash against honoring him again.
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