Joe Posnanski, the acclaimed Sports Illustrated writer – we broke the story when he left the KC Star for SI in 2009 – is spending the season in Happy Valley, writing a book on Joe Paterno. I’m sure the publisher’s advance was hefty, as the book had the potential to be the definitive work on the legendary coach in what probably was going to be his last season with the Nittany Lions. That was before the Jerry Sandusky shit hit the fan.
Now the book is shot and Posnanski has been largely silent since Friday when the story broke. Apparently, he was blindsided by the news. (Did they make Posnanski wear blue and white glasses upon arriving in Happy Valley? I keed, I keed). Posnanski wrote this blog post about Paterno on November 6th. He’s offered nothing since.
This morning, though, about 24 hours after Joe Paterno announced he’d retire at season’s end and about 12 hours after Joe Paterno was fired by the Board of Trustees – was Posnanski one of those gasping in the room Wednesday night? More jokes! – Posnanski spoke to a journalism class on Penn State’s campus with Yahoo’s Pat Forde. One student (Devon, @Devon2012) was “live-tweeting” the experience and Posnanski’s alleged quotes* are quite jarring.
“We’re only hearing one side of the story, and it’s not an impartial story …
“I think [Paterno] is a scapegoat. I definitely think that…I think he tried to do the right thing, and the right thing didn’t happen.”
“A lot of people came here to bury Joe. As a writer, I’m mad with that, as someone who’s come to know the Paternos, I’m heartbroken”
Paterno tried to do the right thing? Huh?
Posnanski is a bright individual. Presumably, he read the detailed Grand Jury report. Presumably, he knows there was an 18-month investigation into this matter. The Grand Jury has been digging around the Penn State program for 18 months and we’re led to believe nobody – that’s including the defensive coordinator, Tom Bradley, who has taken over the team – knew of Sandusky’s sick behavior? Did everyone wipe 1998 from their memories? What about 2002? Somehow, the rumors trickled out to the media in recent years, but you’re telling me nobody inside the program was aware of them? What a crock of shit. Is that going to be their defense as to why Sandusky was allowed to roam the campus and the weight room and show up at Penn State football functions?
Posnanski has accomplished a lot in his career and he has a lot of friends in the media, so it is unlikely he’ll take too much heat for this. But he’s approaching a career-defining moment if he continues with this narrative.
* I use alleged because we have no confirmation from Posnanski that those are his exact words. I emailed Posnanski for confirmation – especially for the word scapegoat – and he hasn’t replied. I texted Pat Forde who was in the room, but he hasn’t replied.