After what I’m sure was much deliberation, Penn State University finally made the decision to take down the Joe Paterno Statue. Last week I made my opinion known on whether or not it should come down, and still stand by my thoughts on the matter. As of yet I haven’t heard what the plans are for the statue itself. I shot a message to Ben Jones, a phenomenal reporter for StateCollege.com, for his opinion on what the university should do with the statue. His response was that “There is a football museum inside the stadium, they should put it there.” While this is something I could agree with, I don’t know that it will change the way anyone looks at the statue, or the things it now stands for in the eyes of so many.
Even in a football museum, this statue is seen as a shrine to a man who very likely covered up a child sex scandal. No one will ever get passed something like that. Future generations will learn about this scandal in a way that supersedes any other scandal in the history of college football. Not even the SMU death penalty case can compare to the audacity and shock the world of college athletics, and those outside of it, felt when the allegations were made. Penn State is doing the right thing by trying to cleanse themselves of this situation entirely. The university itself is doing its best to show exactly how dedicated they are to the beliefs they preach, some of which Joe Paterno started. I would imagine the hardest thing PSU will have to do, is realize that the very man they need to take out of their history books, is the man who wrote them.
The Paterno family issued a statement early Sunday morning on the removal of the statue. An excerpt shows they are clearly not happy:
Tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State Community. We believe the only way to help the victims is to uncover the full truth. The Freeh report, though it has been accepted by the media as the definitive conclusion on the Sandusky scandal, is the equivalent of an indictment – a charging document written by a prosecutor – and an incomplete and unofficial one at that.
I do understand their statement that this does not serve the victims in any way. I do also understand that there was never a trial for Joe Paterno. The problem is that the Paterno family needs to stop thinking that this is about them. This is now about the possibility of Joe Paterno being a disgrace to that university instead of a hero. It’s not about his football wins or his values being in question. This decision has very little to do with the public perception of Joe Paterno. This decision has everything to do with the public perception of Penn State University.
The Paterno family needs to take a step back and look at this university trying to salvage a shipwreck that it is very possible their beloved Joe help create. They university is making every decision with Penn State in mind, not Joe Pa. Never again will his name be announced as head coach. Never again will he lead that team onto the field. Never again will his voice ring, “We are, Penn State.” This is something that the family needs to accept. The university is doing its best to still remain relevant in the college football, and more importantly, public eye.
“We Are,” is not a synonym for “Joe Pa is.” Penn State is bigger than Joe Paterno, even if his family doesn’t believe that.