An appeal to Joe Paterno

JoePa. My heart hurts because you are not going out on your own terms, and I know how that feels.

But at the same time, you’re only continuing to hurt yourself.

For so many years you were held in a certain regard in my extended family – I am the grandchild of two blue-collar Western Pennsylvania families, a coal mining family and the family of an immigrant from Italy who worked in a rural glass plant.

My grandfather, God rest his soul, loved sports. He LOVED Penn State football. Fiorino Lenzi adored the fact that an Italian-American man who was raised in the Depression, who earned a scholarship to an Ivy League college after nearly quitting high school, could make himself into one of the most successful and recognizable personalities not only in the state but in the country and in the landscape of college football.

But, JoePa, your downfall and the scandal surrounding your football program have made me reflect on a few things I have learned from the family that adored you for so long. Things that I haven’t seen out of Happy Valley in the past few days.

My family taught me the values of honesty, integrity, of putting in a day of hard work each time we wake up and head out the door. My family taught me that  no matter how little your role is, you are part of a team and a representative of your organization. And you take pride in that and carry yourself with that in mind.

My family taught me not to hide behind a script that I did not create – something I carried into a career in journalism. Transparency is ingrained in every journalist I know worth his or her salt.

My family taught me to speak up when something was wrong.

This is wrong. So wrong. All of it.

Your statement of resignation will not suffice. Your impromptu press conference at your house Tuesday night won’t make up for your program’s transgressions. Your community’s support of your tarnished program is despicable.

And until you speak truthfully, though you probably never will, you remain complicit.

I learned that from my family, too.

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