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By John Hubbuch
Brad Spencer's column last week ("The Penn State faithful were fooled') recalled Charles Barkley's comment "I ain't no role model." Mr. Spencer recalled his childhood love for the Penn State football team and its leader Coach Joe Paterno, and the bitter disillusionment of learning that Joe Pa and three high ranking Penn State administrators were the central figures in enabling and covering up the long history of child abuse crime by Penn State former coach, Jerry Sandusky.
The failure of athletes to live up to our expectations is an old story. Jim Bouton in Ball Four revealed how Yankees abused alcohol and women. Pete Gent in North Dallas Forty did the same for the Dallas Cowboys. Why even our beloved Michael Jordan had a borderline gambling addiction and ran around on his wife.
It turns out that the sainted Joe Paterno was the worst of them all. No matter how many games he won, how much money he raised for Penn State, and how much he boasted that he "did it the right way", it's all cancelled out by the fact that beginning in 1998 he knew Jerry Sandusky was abusing young boys and did nothing about it. His egomanical pursuit of the college football lifetime wins record not only caused him to coach way longer than he should have, but resulted in him becoming unaccountable to his employer. As a result the university officials that purported to be his bosses wound up doing his bidding.
This morning the NCAA vacated all Penn State wins from 1998-- the year the cover up began. As a result Joe Paterno lost 111 victories dropping him to only 5th on the all time win list. His 7 foot bronze statue has been removed from outside the football stadium. The only monument that remains is one to hubris and the perils of ego.