Skip to comments.My thoughts on the new "Paterno" book by Joe Posnanski (25 year photographer of the football team)
Posted on 08/25/2012 3:54:09 PM PDT by FlJoePa
I just finished the book, Paterno by Joe Posnanski. I was fortunate enough to have the back cover photograph. My Friend Joe Hermitt had the front. Between the two of us we probably photographed JoePa more than anyone.
I read over half the book on a bench in Sunset Park, not more than 100 yards from the Paterno home. Why? I am not sure why. I wanted a quiet place to read and reflect on this man that I knew all these years. This seemed like the right place. I spent many cold hours in front of his house in November. I always wondered what I wasnt seeing. What was going on in that house and how was Joe handling all of this? Now, this book has given me insight into those unanswered questions.
No matter which camp you reside in, this book will not change your mind or sway you in any direction. I am a photographer and this is the only Paterno book I have ever read. I am not a writer or a book reviewer. I am a man that spent 25 seasons (somewhere north of 200+ games) covering Penn State football from as close as you could get. I also saw Joe at many functions away from the field. My job is to show the viewer what I see. Basically, I am a paid observer. I never had much to say from this front row of history. However, as I get older I have discovered the guy behind the camera has a lot on his mind.
If you are looking for the Holy Grail answer as to why Joe did what he did or didnt do, you will not find it here. The Book did one thing for me, and that was all I was looking for. It filled in some of the blanks. We all know the core story: Brooklyn, Brown, Engle, George, Sue, Coach, Bear, champions, players, education, age. This was the hit music we heard over and over and it became lore. The book feels like the Album to those greatest hits. The songs you didnt hear when you were only listening to the hits. Now, we want to hear the album and see what the rest of the story is. I liked the album. Details I didnt know, insight into the last days of Joes life, stories I never knew. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry.
Everyone will tell you Joe was a complex man. He was, no doubt. He had faults and they dont sugar coat it in the book. I saw some of these first hand. The book does not draw conclusions, it allows you to think for yourself. Make up your own mind and hopefully find peace with what you find. I did.
I have told my close friends what I am telling you now. In all the years I covered Penn State football with all the people I knew, players, coaches, reporters, photographers, workers, fans, students, and everyone else you can think of after doing this for 25 years, I was as stunned as anyone when the Sandusky story broke. I didnt hear a rumor, a whisper, a sentence, or a single word about Jerry Sandusky. Nothing. I was very close to the program and gained the trust that you only get from being there that long. I heard nothing.
The following is MY opinion on Joe Paternos role in this whole mess. The book reveals a lot of what I thought was going on. I honestly dont believe he understood or comprehended what he was told. His generation could not comprehend these horrific acts. The generation gap is too big for us to understand what he thought. His kids made him read the newspapers so he would understand what was happening. They insisted he know what was being said about him. He did with great reluctance. He had to ask his kids embarrassing questions about some of the sexual descriptions. Things you never want your kids to ask you.
After reading the Sandusky report and asking his kids about public opinion of him, and they were totally honest, he said: How could they think that? They really think that if I knew someone was hurting kids, I wouldnt stop it? Do they know me? Do they know know what my life was about? Exactly. That is exactly how I feel. He never liked Sandusky, that was known, for a very long time, by people anywhere near the program. He would never protect anyone who did that to kids. He would walk to the police station and report it, in person, if he had any idea what was going on. Thats what I think. Read what you want, believe what you want. Many times, in this book, Joe speaks to you about this. If this man was acting all his life doing everything he could the right way, turning boys into great men, and working to improve everything around him. Why would he protect someone hurting children? He wouldnt. Its that simple. To protect the program, his image? Nope, if you believe that then everything you knew about Joe Paterno was an act. If that was an act we witnessed one hell of a performance. Nope, we saw the real deal and people were so quick to sell him short. I wont.
Joe said, let the truth speak for itself. He is the only person to say he wished he had done more. How selfless is that? He passed on everything he knew, because he knew it was out of his realm of knowledge. He thought he did the right thing. He thought he took care of it. In hindsight, he wished he had done more. Yes, we all wish that now. I dont believe he had any clue to the depth of this horrific man. Sandusky fooled EVERYBODY.
The family says Joe died with peace in his heart. I believe he knew the truth will come out in time. Time the haters didnt give him. Time the Board didnt give him. Now, all we have is time. I think we owe it to him to give this time to play out. Time will tell us what we need to know, then we can decide for ourselves what makes sense. I know Joe rests in peace on that quiet hillside in Lemont. He lived a great life and we were lucky to have him for so long.
So, how do I feel about Joe Paterno? Thats easy. I miss him.
Its a shame that with so much success, Joe will be remembered for this failing. He gave many young men a lesson in character and then failed his own.
Thanks for posting this.
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The very sad thing about all this is the dam NCAA punished the community, and they PUNISHED THE KIDS for the whole debacle.
What the hell did the community and the college kids do to deserve this?
You’ll have to provide me some sort of proof that Joe “failed his own”. What exactly do you mean by that?
If anything you have to offer comes from the freeh report summary, don’t bother. It is absolute garbage.
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Time could tell it was worse.
>>The very sad thing about all this is the dam NCAA punished the community, and they PUNISHED THE KIDS for the whole debacle.
What the hell did the community and the college kids do to deserve this?<<
That is the same question people ask about the children of illegal aliens and other criminals. Penn State failed its responsibilities and the kids suffer.
The alternative would have been no punishment at all, since by definition, any punishment would have punished the community and the kids.
So, this guy (the photographer) was in on it too? Have you read the book? Or the quotes from it?
Oh, it could get worse - but not for Joe Paterno.
It could get worse for the b.o.t., the sitting president (who actually GAVE js those keys to the Lasch building), the second mile (what’s left of it), the various state and local agencies that continually allowed js access to kids. js was allowed to adopt 7 kids and foster dozens of others. Tell me what role Joe Paterno had in any of that?
It could also get much, much worse for the sitting governor. He is in this up to his neck and has 600,000 PSU alums that aren’t big fans right now
espn and the ever reliable louis freeh have already written Joe Paterno’s narrative. And way too many people on this forum have gobbled it up as if it was biscuits and gravy.
We are never going to know for sure what Paterno was thinking — why he did or didn't do the things he is accused of. Yet, that hasn't stopped so many people from rushing to judgment. I thought in this country, a person is innocent until proven guilty. Paterno was tried and convicted in the media based on a highly suspect report with little if any tangible evidence. Has America sunk so low that we have thrown out the Constitution just to mount a lot of heads on a wall?
The reason Sandusky got away with it for so long is simple - he got others in on it. He participated in a ring of powerful people who passed the kids around. And in that way, he set up his insurance policy - not just against being caught, but against even being stopped.
Did JoePa know? Probably. He ran Penn State, and he couldn’t get rid of an assistant coach he didn’t like? Bull. He was TOLD he couldn’t get rid of Sandusky, when Sandusky sought help from his powerful “friends.” Sandusky figured he’d eventually be head coach. So, JoePa knew, but he also was trapped, like everyone else who knew.
Sandusky’s Ring of powerful people is what needs to be investigated. ALL of those creatures need to be found, dug up and exposed.
Problem is, who are THEY connected to? How deep does this rabbit hole go?
Especially if it involves rituals?
Looked at that way, it’s amazing Sandusky was exposed at all.
I didn’t read the book but I looked at the picture.
So Joe Paterno was involved in a child sex ring? Is that what you’re telling me? Is that what you believe? WTF is wrong with you?
“his generation did not comprehend”
A friend of mine and I were discussing Paterno situation. Then we started talking about our own fathers. Both of the Paterno generation. We both agreed that neither of them would have probably understood the gravity of the situation. Sure there were “queers”, but child abuse was not discussed. No doubt it happened...but not discussed.
I’m sure not excusing Paterno on any level, but this does make some sense to me. He died before facing charges and was stripped posthumously of his titles. Does it help all those young men? No, but what punishment is left for a dead man?
Sandusky was caught several times by Penn State employees. The administration knew & lied to a grand jury. Paterno knew & did nothing. His death is the only thing that kept him out of the witness or defendant chair.
The author is rationalizing 25 wasted years of photographing an enabler of a child molester. And that planned coffee table book of Paterno Football Pics is down the drain.
I am so glad that Joe did not know anything about the sodomy in the shower. His statue should go back up.
Nothing happens in a vacuum, so you may be correct. But do you have any evidence ?
Paterno knew. The fact that he took such unprecedented drastic action against Sandusky, including making sure that Sandusky never got another coaching job, tells us that he knew.
But he let Sandusky continue to use the athletic facilities with young boys for years.
Anything new with this? or does the coverup by DPS and TSM still continue???
You do realize that it was the current PSU president - Rodney Erickson (then a Provost) that signed off on js’s “emeritus status”.
Joe Paterno had absolutely, 100%, NOTHING to do with it.
Why do people have this vision of Joe Paterno as some sort of Tony Soprano of Penn State? Where HE and HE ALONE ruled the school (and the town).
You might want to research that thought, because it has been proven a complete paper lion (sic) time and time again. Yet people believe what they want to believe. Facts be damned.
Let me guess — you didn’t read the Freeh Report and thus didn’t read Freeh’s evidence and statements to the contrary, the footnote on pg 51,and Exhibit 2G???.
I had a sailboat I lived on for 3 years named AB&G
..almost biscuits and gravy
” this is the vessel AB&G..almost biscuits and gravy, Whiskey Xray Papa 5748 “
always got a chuckle at the Harbor Patrol
Was that document with his signature on it in the Freeh Report or didn't Freeh have room for it???
If you think that Freeh somehow excuses Paterno, you are very much mistaken.
I don't pretend to be a lawyer, but the NCAA scratching out over 100 Paterno victories and sticking Penn St. with over $60M in fines isn't a legal action. Penn St. could have got the legal system involved by seeking an injunction, but they decided not to go that route..
3.5 million documents, yet no room for that one Chip.
Chip - I have been a member of this forum since reporting live out a business window on the marches in West Palm Beach during the 2000 vote counting.
I LOVE these people. I always have - because I thought they were smarter. I thought they didn’t buy into things without researching them. They’ve proven this time and time again. Heck - this forum owns Dan Rather. He’s our bitch.
And yet, the support or condemnation of Joe Paterno - regardless of the facts, is tilted like a city council election in Chicago here.
The fact that literally thousands of Freepers would take louis freeh’s word on ANYTHING at ANY TIME, after what he has done to this country is beyond me.
The only thing that comes to mind is that there is a large percentage of people in general that have always hated Joe Paterno and Penn State, and this is their opportunity to pile on - just like the ncaa.
The perp got caught and is in jail forever. Joe was stripped, and his name is mud forever. So the NCAA decided to ruin a town and the players. Besides that, the College is liable for civil lawsuits by those harmed.
Like Mark Levin said, I believe these folks have a court case here against the NCAA. Who the hell made the NCAA the judge and Jury? Why didnt they simply shut the whole college down then?
All this was about was money and if followed, that money from the fine will NEVER be put where they said it would go. It’ll all be ate up by “administration” fees.
Mark Levin is on the list (and it’s a long one).
He called for Joe to be fired back in November with no due process. I expected more from him.
If you think that Freeh had any evidence for his accusations against Paterno you are very much mistaken as well. And I read his report.
We know that happened because this book says so....
Say you didn't know, Joe.
We know that happened because this book says so....
Say you didn't know, Joe.
The fact that Rodney Erickson signed off on Jerry Sandusky's Emmeritus status giving him access to the showers over Paterno's objection is something people should be aware of -- the same Rodney Erickson who hired Freeh to hide his involvement and blame Paterno -- and knowing that this is a blatant lie, he signs off on the report.
If I were a PSU grad I would pound that message into the ears of everyone in Happy Valley until the halls of the DPS in Harrisburg began to shake.
So bad you had to post it twice? Show me proof that Joe Paterno had any knowledge that js was abusing children before his being asked to testify before the GJ.
SHOW ME PROOF
You got the talking down. But you just have innuendo and headlines - with a smattering of mike and mike in the morning on espn. You don’t have any facts because like the media - you are lazy.
And referring to an entire University - with 650,000 alums and 90,000 students as “Ped State” due to the actions of one man - a retired coach - is despicable. In other words, I think you suck.
It’s always easier to teach about virtuous character than practice it.
Every single coach and administer in that system should have been fired or at least suspended pending investigation by outside sources at the very beginning of the debacle.
The college could have replaced them with alternative coaches at that point.
That has absolutely nothing to do with what the NCAA did to those who had absolutely nothing to do with this.
What evidence do you have that Joe Paterno didn’t indeed practice what he preached?
Again. Show me the evidence - not from louis freeh or espn or the ny times.
What did Joe do? He reported it to 3 superiors. Not a good start to a coverup, huh?
You people are becoming stupid and hateful at the same time - not a good combination.
We agree on something! Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier should have been put on leave - immediately. Until a full and fair investigation was done (which still hasn’t happened)
I was at the Nebraska game - the only game I got to last year (great planning, huh?), and I would have been ok if Joe didn’t coach ever again. He was going to retire at the end of the season anyway.
But he shouldn’t have been fired. Especially not over the phone by a bunch of idiots (including the governor) who had WAY more interaction with js than Joe Paterno did.
... who had WAY more interaction with js than Joe Paterno did.
How can you say that with a straight face? Sandusky was his ASSISTANT COACH.
You’re blinded by your partisan position.
Paterno was scum. He had first hand knowledge that little boys were being sodomized in his locker room — not once but repeatedly — and he covered it up for the sake of FOOTBALL. By rights, he should have spent the last several painful years of his life in jail. At least he died with his precious football legacy utterly destroyed. As it should be.
Here’s a clue, son: football does NOT trump righteousness.
All I did was make a general statement that I still stand by. And it is not necessarily directed toward JP only.
You called Joe Paterno - a man who lived an exemplary life “scum”.
That gets you “asshat” in return. I guess I’ll apologize, as I am getting a little too wound up about this. But I wish people would just THINK.
Joe Paterno is “scum?” So he put on some act for 61 years of his life at Penn State? No one said he wasn’t without faults, but to think he would KNOWINGLY COVER UP FOR A PEDOPHILE - is patently absurd.
What effin’ sense does that make? Especially when he told everyone he could above him what he knew. He was praised by the otherwise over-aggressive PA AG for his testimony.
And yet people like you call him scum. He isn’t scum. In fact, he’s the furthest thing from it.
You make pedophile jokes. How sad.
>> He isnt scum. In fact, hes the furthest thing from it.
One of the reasons I am so disgusted with that son of a bitch is precisely because I used to look up to him.
What he did was utterly horrible, utterly reprehensible, and — perhaps, worse — utterly CYNICAL.
Multiple young men’s lives scarred permanently, perhaps beyond repair, with his full knowledge.
For WHAT PURPOSE?
A f_____g game. That’s what purpose.
He’s puke in a bucket. Never fully apologized, never came completely clean, never attempted in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER to make amends.
Yeah, he was all teary eyed and sorry for a minute. Sorry he got caught! Sorry his damned LEGACY was tarnished. Those kids Sandusky victimized? CHOPPED LIVER to Saint Joe.
God will judge him for all eternity but I’ll judge him here on earth and I don’t give a damn what you Penn State partisan suck-ups think. He’s crap.
Here’s another news flash, sport. Men of good character don’t slip up like that once. Wonder what else we DON’T know about your hero. Wonder what OTHER principles he sacrificed on the alter of Winning At Football.
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