[Editor's note: Yes, this is primarily a college football story. But it has crossed over into other forms of football and other areas of news, and it will continue to be a major story in the coming weeks, months, and possibly years.]
The American justice system is premised on the notion that everyone who stands accused of criminal charges remains presumed innocent until proven guilty. No such privilege applies in the court of public opinion, which passes judgment whenever, wherever, and however it chooses, based on whatever information it has available.
On Monday night, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky decided, for whatever reason, to submit to an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas on the new Brian Williams-hosted show, Rock Center. And by choosing to add spoken words to the compelling evidence against him, Sandusky has forfeited whatever benefit of the doubt he otherwise was owed.
Sandusky could have scored an acquittal in the court of public opinion, theoretically. Instead, he sealed his own fate with an unpersuasive explanation of the events, and the absence of any of the scream-it-from-the-rooftops indignation that a person who was wrongfully accused of such heinous, sinister acts surely would project.
Sandusky failed to express outrage, confusion, and sadness that someone would use the extensive personal sacrifices made in the interests of helping children in need as the basis for fabricating the most horrendous allegations that can be made against an adult male. Instead, he offered up the perfunctory denial that comes from virtually every criminal defendant.
Even O.J. Simpson was more convincing with that passionate “absolutely, 100 percent not guilty” uttered at his 1994 arraignment.
Costas is drawing widespread praise for the poised and fair manner in which he handled a difficult and delicate subject. And deservedly so. The full interview appears below, and it will be replayed in its entirety tonight on NBC SportsTalk (VERSUS, 6:00 p.m.).
Here’s hoping Bob gets more opportunities to pose fair yet necessary questions to the key figures in this case.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!