It was a strange morning.
A good friend posted on my Facebook wall, “Is Joe Paterno still your hero?”
How can someone be my hero when he allowed a sexual predator to go free?
Then I dressed for my morning workout with a blue Penn State T-shirt and pulled a plain gray sweatshirt over it. The thought crossed my mind that I could still wear the Penn State T-shirt because it was hidden by my sweatshirt. That made me sad and then very angry. “JoePa, why did you do this to me?” Instinctively personalizing the whole sordid story.
To look up to someone older and wiser is human nature. It starts when we’re babies and our parents are our omnipotent heroes. We continue this need, but shift the power to teachers, sports figures or presidents. Some even shift it to a god — an all powerful presence. In fact, most of the world takes great comfort in religion.
Or; some of us chose JoePa. But whoever we chose, at some point he will most certainly fail us. Human beings and gods can’t control everything. Perfection doesn’t exist.
Todd Blackledge, a former Penn State quarterback and now an ESPN college football analyst described it well. He said he still loved Paterno and considered him a mentor.
But I also know that all humans are frail. All humans are weak in moments. And you can’t have your trust totally in other human beings, because they’ll let you down. It’s not just privilege that comes with authority, it’s also accountability and responsibility… Someone needed to go to the police.
Goodbye, JoePa. I’m going to miss you and miss my fantasy.