The Penn State scandal represents primarily, if not exclusively, a horrendous example of the manner in which the caretakers of a major college football program can choose taking care of the program over taking care of the young victims of warped and twisted criminal actions. As a result, we’ll be deferring most of the coverage to the folks at CFT, who have been all over ever angle of the story.
But there will be an inevitable NFL connection. As various investigations are launched, whether by Penn State, one or more agencies of the federal government, or the civil litigation process, anyone who passed through the football program while Jerry Sandusky was employed or otherwise had access to the facility can expect to hear from someone who is trying to find out what was seen, heard, rumored, whispered, and/or suspected.
Some may not want to be involved. 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, a 2010 draft pick from Penn State, isn’t talking about anything relating to the scandal. (Depending on the powers of the investigators, they may have no choice.) Others, like Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris, will be inclined to stubbornly and unequivocally support Joe Paterno, even if it means ignoring common sense. Harris, who appeared last night on Darren Rovell’s VERSUS show, blames Paterno’s superiors for failing to handle properly the information that Paterno relayed to them from then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary.
But Paterno was the superior. Paterno was the program. In many ways, Paterno was Penn State. His failure to express any basic human curiosity about the details of what had happened in his locker room or the outcome of any investigation regarding the situation represents deeply flawed judgment at best, deliberate turf protection at worst. Though any conspiracy quite possibly consisted only at most of knowing glances, the folks who received the information from Paterno surely were smart enough to know that involving external forces would be inviting the very disruption and humiliation that one of the proudest (some would use stronger, and less charitable, terms) universities in the nation is now experiencing.
In the end, failure to do the right thing delayed that disruption and humiliation for nine years. The question now becomes how long the delay really was. The only way to find out is to go all the way back to Sandusky’s arrival, and work forward with care, zeal, and transparency.
As that process encompasses men with NFL connections, we’ll provide updates as warranted. Until then, the place to stay on the cutting edge of all relevant information regarding this story is CFT.