By Jason Keidel
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I’m hardly a hero. But when I began writing for WFAN, I became the rare writer who provided his personal email address under his columns. As a native New Yorker, born to battle and imbued with the native, demonic, debating gene, I wanted your opinion and refused to hide behind a handle or corporate shield.
And I promised our readers that I’d respond to every comment on my columns, even (if not especially) those who vehemently disagree, provided no profanity or similarly offensive language was used.
But this Penn State stuff has tested my mettle, my willingness to engage and my belief in our species.
And I’m a bit more than baffled and irked by the boiling invectives bulging from my inbox. Most are sanctimonious, State College sympathizers who not only still defend the way Sandusky was handled, but are still loud, proud, Paterno apologists.
When it comes to this case, I’m forced to delete 90 percent of the responses because they are vicious, vulgar, and redundant. I should just list those people here, because the same people send the same emails. And not one of them expresses anger at Sandusky, sympathy for the children he destroyed, or outrage at the apparatus that let all this happen. If you can’t disagree with some degree of decency, please don’t speak.
“Why don’t you go after Syracuse?” is one of the more civil, but rather silly, retorts to my rather controversial column on the disgraced former football coach of the Nittany Lions.
There are a hundred reasons not to attack Syracuse right now. Here are a few:
1. We don’t know enough about the case.
2. There has been no arrest, indictment, or grand jury report regarding Bernie Fine, Jim Boeheim, or the school. How am I supposed to know how to blast Bernie Fine when I don’t know what he did?
3. It seems everyone involved has changed their story at least once over the last decade, including the alleged victims. That’s not to say they weren’t abused or that Fine didn’t abuse them, but we need a more lineal, logical account of the case before I’m comfortable commenting.
4. The owner and maker of the smoking gun, Fine’s wife, was reportedly sleeping with one of the alleged victims. Then, years after the infamous phone conversation was recorded, she said the tape was doctored.
5. With so many conflicting concessions and confessions, we don’t know who’s telling the truth. And if John Doe can’t corroborate his own story, how can I?
6. Where’s the cover-up? ESPN and the Syracuse Post-Standard secured this story nearly ten years ago, and did nothing with it. One would hope they didn’t hold and hide the story out of vanity, the need to keep their “exclusive” and hence protecting a potentially volcanic matter while allowing an alleged pedophile (Fine) to molest more kids for another decade.
The one feeling I have, which runs across the grain, it seems, is that Boeheim has to go. Not only because he slammed the alleged victims as money-grabbing prevaricators – which is enough to can him – but if we assume that Paterno knew about Sandusky for decades (and I do think Paterno knew about Sandusky, in some form, since the 1980s) then the same standard must apply to Boeheim. When you know a man, work closely with a man, for 36 years, become a de facto family member by dint of the intimacy and proximity of coaching, chances are you know he has an inappropriate interest in children. I’m not saying send Jim to jail, but his coaching career should end.
But from State College and beyond, we see a series of defense mechanisms. Deflection and relativism seem the main modes of attack, as if Syracuse excuses Paterno, his missives or minions in this systemic subterfuge while a serial child rapist roamed that campus with impunity.
Distilled, the aggregate argument from the fans flooding my email is as follows: Paterno didn’t know about Sandusky in 1994 (the first year of the grand jury’s timeline) because Jason’s a hack. Paterno didn’t know about Sandusky in 1998 because Jason’s a hack. Paterno finally figured it out in 2002 and did precisely the right thing by not calling the cops because… you guessed it… Jason’s a hack.
The worst part is the bulk of Paterno’s apologists don’t even know the man. You owe him nothing and, trust me, he doesn’t feel he owes you anything. And I’m sure you are, like I am, waiting for all the “truth” Paterno promised to share with us since the scandal became public. Instead, Paterno is muted and lawyered-up, bracing for the tidal wave of civil suits headed his way. Success With Honor, indeed.
I feel smarter by the second standing next to Paterno’s apologists.
And why is Tom Bradley still there? “Well, shucks, ole Tom didn’t do nuthin’,” you declare. Really? How do you know that? I don’t know that. I do know that he’s been there since 1979. Would it be absurd to speculate that he may of seen something and not said something? Even if we suspend all belief, give Bradley every benefit of the doubt (a benefit not given those destroyed children), he’s now the face of the old regime, the crooked autocracy that let Sandusky do what he did. Bye, Bradley.
Now we have Dottie Sandusky, the doting, demented wife releasing statements clearing her husband of all malfeasance. She says everyone from the boys Jerry Sandusky raped (allegedly, of course) to Mike McQueary to the grand jury are telling tall tales.
“What do you expected from Sandusky’s own wife?” you shriek.
I expect her to shut up. Most marriages (including my own) have melted under far less barbaric pretenses. Usually, husband and wife just get sick of each other, or one party cheats, or both. But that’s just the way it goes. I don’t have any pals who get divorced because he decided to become an alleged pathological liar and serial child rapist.
One of the (alleged, of course) victims said Jerry Sandusky kept him in the basement of Sandusky’s house while devoted Dottie was upstairs folding laundry, baking cookies, and keeping house. If that’s true, toss Dottie into the Sandusky cell and let both rot in Hell.
Here’s what I’m saying. We all agree that Sandusky is a monster. And while even monsters deserve a day in court, there’s no way 50 counts of sexual assault on kids (with far more to come) can be concocted.
What we don’t seem to agree on, yet we should, is that Sandusky doesn’t exist for over 30 years without a little help from his friends, from his charity to his employer to the police. Why is that so hard to understand?
The Wall Street Journal reported that Paterno’s tentacles ran so deep into his program that he squabbled weekly with the Penn State’s public relations people over which player transgressions he wanted them to release. Paterno knew if his players got drunk or stoned, if they were speeding or cheating on a midterm. But he didn’t know his top lieutenant molested boys. This is what you’re asking me to believe.
We also know that Syracuse doesn’t make Penn State go away. Nope. In fact, Penn State gets worse, much worse, before it gets better.
Feel free to email me, if you promise to remain sane:
Keidel takes a hard line — but what’s your opinion on the scandals plaguing Penn State and Syracuse? Join the conversation below…