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Category: American Sport

What to do when a man is playing God? Get another man to play God and say he’s the real God

Yes folks more on the Penn State Child Sex abuse scandal. Recently I don’t seem to have written too much jolly but there isn’t too much jolly going on in my peripheral vision at the moment.

Yesterday Mark Emmert the President of the NCAA decided to lower the boom on Penn State football. Whilst he didn’t use the death penalty he did essentially kill Penn State as a football powerhouse for the best part of a decade and relished every single moment. He had appointed himself judge, jury and executioner but what he was really doing was appointing himself as God. The moral arbiter of the NCAA. He got all the power he wanted from the other presidents and decided to not only use it – but use it far beyond his actual remit. Luckily for him you won’t find too many people trying to defend Penn State so he could’ve done whatever he wanted and the public would have backed him – or said he didn’t go far enough – he was on safe ground.

He believed that Joe Paterno had become too powerful at Penn State. So to show everyone how it should be done he used a power-play himself and became the supreme being in charge of everything the NCAA rules over. The problem was the NCAA don’t rule over criminal cases – that is done by the police but that is but a mere minor detail. To show everyone that becoming too powerful leads to bad times he usurped more far reaching power than anyone in NCAA history. Yeah that will sort it.

He repeatedly said that this was a unique situation and he had not set a precedent. Anyone with a semblance of a brain knows that is laughable. The NCAA now have the power to rule over criminal acts. Personally I am all for due process and to allow the courts to decide on what is criminal and what isn’t but why wait for the law and due process when you are Mark Emmert?

I have no idea what happened at Penn State and do you know what? No-one else reading this has an idea either. If they say that they do then they are either a liar or they are called Graham Spanier, Tim Curley or Gary Schultz. Everyone has an opinion on what happened at Penn State and most people’s opinions are set in stone before any of the key players have faced a jury or spoken in public.

The Freeh Report was a horrific read but it was also a report without subpoena power. Mark Emmert said about how it was so thorough it had talked to over 300 witnesses and was good enough for him. The only issue is he didn’t speak to anyone with any first hand knowledge except Graham Spanier – and he has already claimed that most of his testimony wasn’t even included in the Freeh Report for whatever reason. Conspiracy theorists might claim that Louis Freeh already had a narrative and much of Spanier’s testimony didn’t fit that so it was left out but those conspiracy theorists are all crazy…

Something that did cheer me up (well cheer me up is not the right wording so let’s say made me less angry) was the fact many journalists after spending months whaling on Penn State have questioned his right to step in. Many have finally said that he has over-stepped his boundaries to make this big PR stand. Some people such as Jay Bilas to Chris Fowler to Tony Kornheiser to JA Adande to Bomani Jones etc… actually think the NCAA went beyond their remit because they wanted to be seen to be acting.

For the past few months I have said that this issue is the Salem Witch Trials 2012. It is such a lightning rod story that people don’t care about due process as they just want justice and they want it now. I spoke to a couple of my neighbours about it yesterday and all they heard was ‘child sex’ and they said everyone deserves whatever they get. I tried to argue that should innocent people deserve punishment too and they didn’t care. There was child sex involved and that was enough for them. That is sadly the way things are these days.

Should the catholic church be shut down because of its issues on this front? Should the boy scouts be culled? People want Penn State football finished but does that punishment fit the crime? The crime was perpetrated by an individual and it was compounded by other individuals. These individuals are either in jail, dead or facing criminal prosecutions. These people are not involved at Penn State any more and the university is already changing its culture and following the recommendations to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. How does penalising the innocent make up for the evilness and the criminal acts/bad decisions of others?

Losing twenty scholarships a year for four years means that there are eighty fewer scholarships for student-athletes at Penn State but it also means that eighty fewer student-athletes will get scholarships all over the country. So eighty people who will be recruited to play college football next year will not get a scholarship? Do these eighty people deserve that? How about all the businesses around State College? Do they deserve to see their incomes drop as the football programme at the university decreases?

All the other student-athletes on non-football scholarships will also suffer as the men’s football programme pays for all the other sports. These sports may well be cut as the university might not be able to afford them. How about the football players themselves? Yes they are transfer without penalty by why are they penalised for events that happened before they even got into junior high school?

What happens if Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are found not guilty at their criminal trials? What happens if the Freeh Report isn’t gospel? What happens if actually the main players in this instance actually were duped by Jerry Sandusky and actually didn’t know everything that everyone thinks they knew? There are so many questions and whilst we have heard many answers none of these answers have come from the people that know the answers. The answers have come from everybody else. At some point these people will answer these questions and then what do we do?

I know everyone wants to hit Penn State hard but was it the university that faltered or was it people? If I said that you moved into a house that five years ago a paedophile lived in would you be guilty of harbouring that person even if you didn’t know them? Should you face sanctions? The people involved in this horrific state of affairs are in jail, dead or facing criminal charges as I have already said. They are not playing football at Penn State today, they aren’t the hotel or restaurant owners in State College. Punish those who erred and not those that didn’t. That is my point of view.

One last thing – even those who have erred deserve due process. You don’t shoot first and ask questions later. Mark Emmert has played God because he believes he is serving the American’s peoples will. The general public have made up their minds and they want justice. They don’t care if the justice is fair or not but they want someone to suffer because these innocent kids had to suffer at the hands of a monster. Who suffers they don’t care as long as someone does and because Penn State employed all then they are right people to get hurt despite all the other innocent people at that institution. I’m sure these people want the catholic church shut down and the boy scouts dispensed with as well.

It is institutions that make these people evil – not individuals. If you believe that then I despair I truly do. You punish the people involved you don’t punish those that weren’t. That is maybe an old school belief but heck there is nothing like a (very) public witch hunt. Justice takes time but time isn’t something people have time for as it were. People want justice – or what they perceive as justice – yesterday. Whether they actually get justice is not important. The perception of someone paying the price is enough whether or not the people paying the price are people who should be.

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I have taken my time but now I think I’m ready to react to the Freeh Report

Last Thursday afternoon was not the most comfortable experience that I have ever had. Reading the Freeh Report and somehow not throwing up all over my desk and surrounding carpet is I think an achievement in itself. There will be many people who don’t even know what the Freeh Report is – well I’ll tell you this – it is a 267 report into the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal and more importantly it is the report into how Penn State as a university dealt with a paedophile on campus.

I didn’t go to Penn State – I went to the slightly less well know Surrey Institute of Art & Design University College which doesn’t even exist any more as it is part of the Universities & Colleges for the Creative Arts but there is a reason I have drank at the foot of Penn State – and that was a curmudgeonly old man who ran the football programme at said university. Well that old man died earlier this year mere months after the biggest scandal ever in American sports and possibly only Watergate can trump it in modern American history happened under his watch. It is that big.

Bob Ryan said last week that Joe Paterno was the most famous and important person to ever come out of Pennsylvania with the possible exception of Benjamin Franklin but that it was probably a push. So this isn’t some unknown guy. However now the Freeh Report has decided that he was as culpable for Jerry Sandusky’s action as three other men everyone is ready to spit on his grave. This is a sad symptom of the reactionary culture that we live in. The Freeh Report is full of holes and did not speak to many of the important people involved due to various reasons. Basically if I was using another American scandal I’d say it was the Mitchell Report which was ready to bury people based on just one source – Brian McNamee.

This time round Louis Freeh is ready to bury people on the strength of 14 and 11 year-old e-mails that may or may not be out of context. We all know that if this was a prosecution case in a criminal trial then no-one would be found guilty but the court of public opinion is a very different one to that of a court of law.

One thing I have learned in my 29 years on this Earth though is that going against the herd is not what you do unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb. One other thing I have learned is that going against the herd when a paedophile is involved in tantamount to signing your own death warrant. The voices are just so loud that rational thought processes are not allowed to prosper. People want justice – but not real justice – they want vigilante justice. This is what is happening in this case.

The other three men who Freeh says were involved have kept their counsel. The two with criminal cases to answer still believe that when their side of the story is told that they’ll be proved to have not done anything against the law.

The counsel for Gary Schultz release the following statement last week:

When the complete factual story is told before an impartial jury, it will be clear that Mike McQueary never told Mr. Schultz that he witnessed Mr. Sandusky engaging in anal intercourse with a young boy, that Mr. Schultz did not possess or maintain any secret files about Mr. Sandusky, and that there were no efforts between and among Messrs. Schultz, Curley, Paterno and Spanier to conceal Mr. Sandusky’s behavior.

The council for Tim Curley released the following statement last week:

Thus, the conclusions reached in the Freeh Report are based on an incomplete record.

A complete record can and will be made in a court of law, aided by the power of subpoena, where all of the witnesses are subject to thorough cross examination. Fortunately for Mr. Curley, the Constitution guarantees that the criminal charges pending against him will be decided by twelve citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania based upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and not upon mere opinions drawn from limited sources.

Now I am still what you call old school. You are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and deserve to be treated as such. You are not innocent until a report into your conduct which only looks at a small portion of the evidence deems you as such. That isn’t how we do it in the democratic world – well it isn’t how it should be done anyway. However the court of public opinion has spoken and even if Curley and Schultz are found not guilty their names will only be cleared legally. Their names will never be cleared in the minds of most people.

Unsurprisingly away from the lives that have been damaged so cruelly by a man so evil that you just hope the rest of his life is a sheer living hell, my thought process is about Joe Paterno. The criminal cases will play out and I like to let these things play out before saying anything due to my aforementioned crazy ideal of innocent until proven guilty. Paterno has since passed on but his legacy is still up in the air. People have made judgements already without seeing how things play out. There are some horrific pieces of journalism around – flat out horrific – not just from bums like me but people who should know better.

Sports writers are just like any other journalist or indeed any other person. They want to be the loudest and the most veracious when it comes to showing moral outrage. The problem with most of them in this instance is Joe Paterno was beloved until what was it eight or so months ago. Many journalists wrote so many amazing things about the man but now Louis Freeh says that Paterno knew everything – not only that but he covered it all up – then that alone is enough to change the minds of everyone.

An e-mail that said that Joe had been spoken to and they decided they weren’t comfortable with going to the police any more is not enough to convict Paterno on any charge. He may have talked PSU out of their plan but it is also feasible that Paterno told them that it would cost the university millions of dollars but it was the right thing to do. No-one knows. As of today there is no record of that conversation but apparently that is enough for Louis Freeh. This was a man who was head of the FBI for eight years mainly through the Clinton administration so he isn’t some chump. Surely he knows you can’t essentially convict a man based on not only second-hand evidence but when that evidence is supposition. He doesn’t know what Joe Paterno said to Tim Curley. I don’t know what Joe Paterno said to Tim Curley. Rick Reilly certainly doesn’t know what Joe Paterno said to Tim Curley. One man does and that is Tim Curley himself and he’ll take the stand at some point so we’ll see what comes out.

There is surely plenty of blame to go around. We just don’t know where the blame should be laid yet. We all have opinions but opinions and knowledge are two very different kettles of fish.

I want to save my final blurb for the aforementioned Rick Reilly. Who I have never been a fan of but heck at this point he’s just trying to scream the loudest like many of his brethren:

I hope Penn State loses civil suits until the walls of the accounting office cave in. I hope that Spanier, Schultz and Curley go to prison for perjury.

What happens Rick if they haven’t committed said crime of perjury? Do you just hope that they get done for perjury because it will fit in with your narrative? What the rational person will say is that they hope justice is carried out. If they are guilty then we hope they get found as such. If they are not then we hope that they are found not guilty. Obviously being rational is beyond Rick’s comprehension – or indeed most people when it comes to crime of this nature.

If anyone believes that the Freeh Report is an 100% accurate representation of what happened at Penn State then they are morons. Rick Reilly and others seem to believe that it is and therefore they are morons. A report can never be 100% accurate when it doesn’t speak to the vast majority of the people with first-hand evidence of what went on. It might be accurate but we don’t know that and we shouldn’t take it as gospel. To do so is irresponsible journalism and irresponsible on a human level.

The fall-out from Jerry Sandusky’s actions haven’t even scratched the surface yet. As depressing as that is it is the truth. When people like Mike McQueary, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz etc… start speaking publicly and/or under oath then we might start getting the full picture. Until then we have seen half the story and to form an opinion based on half a story is not much further elvolved than what happened at the Salem witch trials.

Update 25/08/12: Lots of people have read this today after being linked to on the BWI Rivals message board. For all my thoughts on PSU please click on this link for all Penn State blogs on this site

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How (not) to woo the ladies – a non voicemail hacking story

We are going back a bit here but I was surfing YouTube earlier and found a video that has left me conflicted. It is a video showing a recording on a woman’s voicemail by SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt who also fronts Golf on the worldwide leader as well as host his own radio show. Van Pelt has always come across as a pretty cool guy. Anyway he met a woman at a bar one night and then decided to give her a call. Listen to what he had to say.

Her response was to give the voicemail to the media to show him up. What class.

I know he was a bit dorky but I just don’t see what is too wrong with it. He plucked up the courage to ring this woman and when she didn’t answer left her one (albeit long and rambly) voicemail. He wasn’t mean. He didn’t harass her. Just phoned up a girl and in a long winded way say that she was pretty awesome (which is surely a good thing) and asked if she wanted to go out for dinner sometime.

I ask ‘what the hell is wrong with that?’ and then I ask ‘what the hell is so wrong with the message that you decide to sell the message to the media because he is famous?’

Sometimes I just shake my head. It is hard enough for some people to ask women out expecting to get a negative reply or even worse get laughed at and mocked by the woman for being not good enough for them but to get your voicemail sold to the media? Wow. Just wow. That is way harsh.

I’m 28 and I still have only asked one person out on a date who I didn’t already know to some decent degree. With women like this in the world I can’t see me doubling up on that number any time soon…

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Linsanity reminds me of the Kurt Warner story from 1999

Those few of us who care about US sports will know a few stories inside and out. Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier in 1947 to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers is without a shadow of a doubt the most important. We all agree on that but other stories are told. For me the depths that Josh Hamilton plummeted with all the natural ability in the world but unable to deal with alcohol and drug issues and the comeback and that night in Yankee Stadium is one I read a lot about. The ongoing struggle as he continues to face those demons today.

However at the moment we have Linsanity. Some unknown kid (well not exactly a kid anyone) but a player who has been cut twice, was playing D-League ball comes up to the big team because of a rash of injuries and plays flat out lights out. He takes the team on his back and they’ve now won six straight since he’s come into the club. The feel good story of a guy living on a team mates couch and being the most talked about player in the league isn’t a new one.

Going back 13 years now the St. Louis Rams lost their star QB in an exhibition game and they turned to backup Kurt Warner. r Warner was a star of Aerna League Football and had been stocking shelves at a local supermarket when he joined the Rams. No-one heard of him and no-one expected anything and then something happened. He played football and became quite simply – the best QB in the league. Some unknown backup took a team on his back and was just brilliant. It inspired to this day still my favourite SI front cover Who Is This Guy?

Kurt Warner led his team to a Super Bowl that they won on the last play of the game with a tackle at the one yard line. He led them back again only to be beaten by a last second Field Goal against the Patriots. Then it was over. The Greatest Show on Turf as it was dubbed was finished. Warner became just another back-up in New York and then in the desert in Arizona. However then he started to play great again and led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl and put them in a position to win late but the Steelers would come back to win it late.

The voice-over artist on NFL Films America’s Game said this of Warner, ‘in the space of four months he (Warner) went from anonymous backup to national curiosity to bona fide superstar’ and that is spot on. Kurt Warner should end up in the Hall of Fame. I’m not saying Jeremy Lin will but what I am saying is that these stories are great and compelling. Sport is all about stories and Linsanity is a great one no matter what Floyd Mayweather says.

I don’t watch Basketball apart from March Madness but I don’t want Linsanity to end. It is a great story that keeps people engaged in the sport. Look at Tim Tebow and the Broncos this year. The madness that surrounded the ex-Florida QB led to the Broncos v Pats AFC divisional playoff game being the most watched non Super Bowl match of all time. That was all thanks to Tebow and the story transcending sport into popular culture. Linsanity is starting to do that and if it continues for the rest of the season then the NBA’s lockout will seem a distant memory.

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Joe Pa passes away at 85. Rest in Peace Joe Pa.

I started writing this blog post the best part of 36 hours ago. I was found naked in my study by my girlfriend with tears having more than moistened my cheeks staring at the screen suffering from Writers Block. A couple of hours earlier I had rolled over in bed to check my twitter feed and saw reports that Joe Paterno was in a serious condition and that his wife had called the family in from all over the country as his time was short.

I got up and came to the computer to read all the stories and reports of his death. They were premature but he wouldn’t live to see the next day out. He passed at 9:25AM on Sunday morning. I was brought into this world no doubt kicking and screaming at 9:25AM on a Sunday morning. Joe Pa left quietly in his sleep ready to give the big guy hell if he so exists.

Looking back I can count the amount of times I have cried in the past five years on two fingers. Both of those occasions were due to Paterno. One his passing and the second the way he was treated and vilified by the media following allegations of child sexual assault against a former assistant of his. Yes a former assistant. Not a current assistant. Not him. But by someone else. The police acknowledged that Paterno did nothing wrong but the media had a bone and they weren’t letting it go until they destroyed him. This isn’t the time or place to debate whether the actions of the media hastened his departure from this world but when Coach K – aka Mike Krzyzewski – goes on ESPN and basically tells them they did just that it says a lot.

The following is a comment by poster OptaShields over at BlackShoeDiaries which I think sums up a lot of my feelings today:

I’ve heard a lot of people asking “What will be the lasting legacy of Joe Paterno?”

As if that’s a question that anyone could answer. A legacy isn’t something that you discuss. There can be no official determination. The only people who can possibly care about this discussion are the people who have never had their lives influenced by the man. The discussion is abstract and academic, and almost wholly worthless.

His real legacy won’t be determined by words, spoken or written.

It is when I work a little harder on the details to make the brief I’m writing not just good enough, but perfect.

It’s when I meet someone new, look them in the eye while I’m shaking their hand and commit myself to actually listening and being interested in them, because that’s how one shows respect.

It’s when I walk a little further to the sidewalk to avoid cutting through someone’s yard, because you don’t cut figurative or literal corners.

It’s understanding that you can live up to some ideal and be driven by more than just personal self-interest, and then striving to live in such a way and help others in their quests as well.

It’s Adam Taliaferro going from being paralyzed to becoming an elected government official and (hopefully) Trustee within the span of 12 years.

It’s Paul Jones, who committed to Penn State as a 4-star recruit, and has nothing but respect and admiration for his former coach, even after being prevented from playing for his first two years.

It’s the hundreds of former players who credit their old coach for making them into the men they are today.

It’s listening to Urban Meyer and Mike Ditka and Coach K talk about what he’s meant to them, and hearing something much deeper, realer and more genuine than you usually hear when people give respects to an icon.

It’s every current and former player understanding that a scholarship has more to do with class and grades than football, that you run to the whistle (in both football and life) and internalizing the maxim “if you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”

The idea that a legacy is an encapsulation or a summary is silly. A legacy is influence, and exists at a subconscious, ineffable level as much as it does as an actual idea. I am a better person because Joe Paterno was my role model. My life was enriched by the places and people that he influenced and improved during his life. And there are hundreds of thousands like me. That is his legacy.

Legacy is a strange thing. How will Bill Clinton be remembered in 100 years time? Will it be as an adulterer who put his wife through such an ordeal or will it be as the person who oversaw a large economic boom, helped peace processes around the Globe and was a very popular president? It will be the latter. Is Woody Hayes remembered as a great football coach or as the man who punched one of his students? It is the former.

Paterno has a black mark against his name but it is only a chapter of the book. The book has many chapters and the vast majority are positive. Hindsight is 20/20 and everyone knows exactly what they would have done in his position. Everyone is perfect. Everyone would have gone up to Jerry Sandusky and punched his lights out and then dragged him to the police station. It is what everyone would have done. Well everyone in hindsight and everyone who doesn’t believe in innocent until proven guilty in a Court of Law that is. Heck a Court of Law, the Court of Public Opinion, what is the difference?

If you had been told by your superiors that they had done a full investigation on an issue and had acted appropriately then what do you do? Do you say that they haven’t done enough even though they know (or at least portrayed to know) far more than you and then take it on yourself or do you trust them – as it is their job to oversee such matters and get on with things? You do the latter. If you say the former then you are deluding yourself. Some people didn’t do their job in 2002 and Joseph Vincent Paterno was not one of them. Yes he could have done more but when the people in charge tell you they have investigated and done appropriate action then what are you meant to do? I mean really?

The trial of Jerry Sandusky will happen later this year. As will the trials of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz who according to the DA didn’t fulfill their legal obligations in 2002 on one of the incidents that Sandusky is charged with. When this happens it will be interesting to see how Paterno’s name is dragged through the media once more.

The media over the past 24 hours have seen Paterno in a different light. Although certain writers and broadcasters cannot go a sentence without mentioning the charges against people not named Joseph Vincent Paterno. As I wrote before this chapter is yet to be fully written and when it does it will still only be a chapter of a book. His legacy will continue in the people he influenced and moulded to become the people they are today. The motto of ‘success with honour’ is something that I do believe any one of us could live by. There is never any success if you get it without honour.

Paterno influenced many far and wide. The people who met him and even those that did not were helped on their way in life by the way he lived his. He said ‘take care of the small things in life and the big things will fall into place’ which is a great way to be. On the statue outside of Beaver Stadium of Paterno the following quote is etched into the base, “They ask me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone. I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.”

Well coach that you did. You didn’t just make Penn State a better place you made the world a better place. You made people better people. You may not have been perfect but who of us can say that they are? You lived your life as to benefit others and teach people about how to live their lives in a better and more meaningful way. If that isn’t the best legacy that you can have then I don’t know what is.

Rest in Peace Joe Pa and trust me when that you will live on in the spirit of the many people you influenced across the Globe and know this – those people will instill your ways into their offspring so that your legacy will go on for many generations to come.

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Joe Paterno has lung cancer

A fortnight ago the whole world of Penn State blew up. Allegations of unspeakable proportions were alleged to have happened within the institute. Charges were filed against senior administrators accused of covering up. The legendary head coach who until a fortnight ago was believed not just one of the greatest football coaches but also one of the greatest men to have ever worked in college athletics was accused of not doing enough and was forced from his job. The university handled the situation about as badly as any institution can ever handle anything.

It has just been a desperate time for all. I have already written many things about the rush to judge without all the facts has been a total disgrace. How people can form an opinion on some of the story from one half of the ledger is beyond me. We all know that the Grand Jury testimony goes a lot further than what has been released to the press. We’ve found out this week according to sources to ESPN that the full Grand Jury testimony says that Mike McQueary actually did intervene and stop an alleged incident in the Penn State showers. That has come out this week but his reputation has already been dragged through the mud.

Having read certain things from people close to the Paterno’s it seems that Joe Paterno may well have evidence that he acted both legally and morally regarding the Jerry Sandusky allegations. However he is unable to talk at this juncture as it would affect the Jerry Sandusky criminal case. I’m willing to wait for everything to play out before I come to any judgements but then we get the news that we got today.

Joe Paterno has lung cancer.

His son Scott Paterno confirmed today that his dad has treatable lung cancer and they are hopeful of a full recovery. Talk about a punch to the stomach. I think my utmost thoughts are that he fights and beats this demon. I want this for two reasons. Firstly Joe Paterno is a prosecution witness in this case and should Paterno not make it then the Sandusky case gets hurt. Secondly I hope he beats it so he can live long enough to tell his side of the story and then everyone can make up their minds with all the evidence.

It might sound crazy that I can sit and type and fully believe that Joe Paterno will be completely vindicated and exonerated for how he handled that 2002 incident. Those close to the Paterno’s seem to feel confident when the truth comes out people’s perceptions will change. Also the fact Paterno was willing to speak at that Press Conference but Graham Spanier cancelled it a mere 40 minutes before because Paterno was going to talk and say the truth is rather fishy. Whether Curley, Schultz, Spanier et al handled the situation well is very much up in the air – as it is for Paterno and McQueary but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if their stories are wildly different when it all comes out.

Lastly the amount of people that are saying this is karma that Paterno has this evil disease makes me want to puke. The AP in America ran a poll asking who was accused of these unspeakable crimes and 30% of the American public answered Joe Paterno and still many members of the media are saying they acted responsibly and treated the story how it deserved to be treated. Either they didn’t and/or 30% of American’s are so stupid it’s insane.

Jerry Sandusky is accused of these unspeakable acts. Not Joe Paterno. The media are terrible and the rush to judge without even half the story just sums up people today. I for one wish Joe Paterno the best in this battle and a long and healthy forced retirement. Until someone gives me cold hard facts and not conjecture that Paterno valued his job/his university over the sexual abuse of boys then I’m going to hold off judging. I am in the minority I know but hey it’s better to stand for what you believe than follow a crowd who act in a way you disagree with.

As for those wishing Paterno a slow and painful death. I have no words.

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Further thoughts on the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case

Here is a comment I posted over at Black Shoe Diaries. I’m not a lawyer but I have been the foreman of a jury is a sexual abuse case against a minor so I have a little insight into how a jury operates in such a case.

From a legal PoV a lot still has to play out.

As far as we know the whole case against Sandusky will not include any hard physical evidence. There will be no physical evidence presented in court against him. The jury will have to decide who they believe – the accusers or Sandusky.

The only two first-hand witnesses for the prosecution will be Big Red and the Janitor. The defence will only have to discredit them or push either of their testimony to the ‘questionable’ pile and Sandusky may well be found not guilty.

As far as I’m aware Sandusky has a wife and several of these alleged incidents happened under the marital roof. From all we know the wife will not take the stand for the prosecution and will be a key defence witness. If she takes the stand and says she knows nothing, she saw nothing, heard nothing and is perceived as a credible witness she is a very key witness in this case.

Also the charges stem back what 17 years, it will only need the defence to discredit two or three of the accusers – heck even one – and the jury will suddenly shift to being far more concerned. The fact that no-one filed police charges until 2009 will also concern the jury. If it comes out under oath that the accusers told their parents and the parents did nothing then a jury will struggle with this as why should they believe testimony when their parents didn’t even believe it when it first came up.

I don’t like being that guy but I was the foreman of a jury in a very similar case and we found the defendant not guilty on all charges (it was a step-dad charged with abusing his step-children) and as a jury we could not get over the fact the mother didn’t believe her own child and only reported the case weeks later after she confided in other parents what her daughter had said.

I have no idea if Sandusky is guilty or not. I’m just saying the legal process has to play out and all the defence has to do is discredit one or two people to the point where a jury doesn’t believe their testimony and they’ll find him not guilty.

As for JoePa. Reading the national writers today they all think he should go. They though like you or I don’t know what Paterno did or didn’t do beyond the fact that legally he did everything right. Did he follow up with Curley/Schultz? We don’t know but until I see a reason to blame JoePa on any moral ground then I’ll fully back him.

Innocent until proven guilty is a very important motto – and legally that word proven is vital and something I think most people overlook unless they are actually sitting as a juror. Thinking he’s guilty after the evidence isn’t enough. They have to believe it.

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Jerry Sandusky charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse. Others implicated in a potential cover-up

Well. This might be the hardest blog post I’ve sat down and written since I started this blog. It might be the hardest piece of writing I have ever sat down to do. Whenever you are writing about such serious crimes it is going to be hard and I’ve read the indictment in full…

Yesterday a Grand Jury indicted Jerry Sandusky with forty counts of sexual abuse against children. I doubt many (if any) regular or even semi-regular readers of this blog know who this man is so I’ll tell you. He was the former Defensive Coordinator at Penn State and was considered to be the natural heir to the man to whom I have more respect than any other person alive today that I have never met – Joe Paterno.

67 year-old Sandusky was on Joe Paterno’s staff for thirty years and was the person who led Penn State’s defense in the national title years of 1982 and 1986. The defensive scheme in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl is still to this day the greatest defense I have seen on a football field. The greatest offense ever seen in college football was shutdown by Penn State. Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde was intercepted five times that night including on 4th Down and Goal with nine seconds remaining. It was Sandusky who created ‘Linebacker U’ but his on field achievement seem so worthless today.

The charges and the Grand Jury’s indictment is ugly and to be honest a horrific account of long-term abuse against minors. Within 24 hours though the story moved on as others have been implicated. The AD at Penn State Tim Curley has been charged with perjury as has Gary Schultz the vice president for finance and business. As part of his job Schultz was also responsible for overlooking university police. Their charges stem from an incident in 2002 which sadly will taint Joe Paterno despite him not doing anything wrong.

That incident revolves around a grad assistant witnessing Sandusky abusing a boy on the Penn State campus. That grad assistant may well have been Big Red Mike McQueary but that isn’t gospel but it seems like the case. The grad assistant informed his father to what he witnessed and his father told him to come home. The next day McQueary visited the Paterno home and told the coach what he saw. The coach then informed both Curley and Schultz as he was meant to. This is all from Paterno’s testimony to the Grand Jury from earlier this year. I must point out that coach Paterno has not been charged with anything to do with this case and will not be according to the Grand Jury.

Curley and Schultz have also been charged with failing to notify the authorities of a potential sex crime which is illegal under Pennsylvania law although it terms of seriousness it is not serious enough to warrant jail time. Paterno has not been charged because he did not witness the alleged assault and he did inform both his superior and the person in charge of the university police. Legally he has done nothing wrong. Indeed it seems extremely likely that Paterno and the grad assistant will be prosecution witnesses in these cases.

The evidence seems overwhelming against all three charged. Curley and Schultz’s testimony in front of the Grand Jury was essentially the polar opposite to coach Paterno’s version of events as the two charged never believed a serious crime had been committed. It reeks of a cover-up and the main question is who was involved. As more comes out it does look as though one of my biggest idols is in the clear but maybe we’ll never know.

In 1998 there was an alleged incident of sexual abuse investigated by university police against Sandusky which never resulted in a criminal case. At this point the coach was still very much seen as the natural successor to Paterno. Within twelve months he had been forced into retirement by Paterno and Penn State. Paterno had told him that he wanted to make changes and that he was out. Considering how loyal Paterno is to his staff it smelled like something was up. To me it smells like Paterno knew something wasn’t right and wanted up out of there. However as part of his retirement agreement with the university he still had access to the facilities.

At this point how I must stress that everyone is innocent and I have seen many a Grand Jury indictment lead only to a Not Guilty verdict in a Court of Law despite there seeming to be damning evidence. All we have heard so far is the prosecutions side of the story and this is one thing I can’t get about the US legal system – the Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly has come out and said, “This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys,It is also a case about high-ranking university officials who allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a young boy after the information was brought to their attention, and later made false statements to a grand jury that was investigating a series of assaults on young boys.”

I just don’t get how an Attorney General come out and call Sandusky a sexual predator without having a guilty verdict in a Court of Law but hey maybe the US prefer a Guilty until proven Innocent stance from their legal officials. Why not say a man has been charged and then try him on the crimes? I often find that the more that comes out outside of the trial then the like likely it is the prosecution will get a conviction. That is just my own opinion though – I do not have the facts to back that up but in several very high-profile cases Stateside recently the more the public has apparently known the less chance the jury has convicted.

I have zero knowledge as to these charges and how it will play out in court. Lying to a Grand Jury is pretty nasty stuff however Barry Bonds is not sitting in a jail cell today, nor is Roger Clemens. So Curley and Schultz have hope even though it seems like they did lie under oath (and really why do that? They knew Paterno was going to say the truth so why lie to try and cover up your own either a) inadequacies or more alarmingly b) your own cover-up).

As for Jerry Sandusky who knows. He has strenuously denied all wrongdoing and the legal process will play out in due course.

What makes me sad at this moment is that Penn State has an almighty black-eye today and it is without a doubt the darkest day in the universities history. Coach Paterno who is a truly great man has a black eye just by association despite not doing anything wrong but all this pales into insignificance if the allegations are true because plenty of young people’s lives have been ruined by a sexual monster. Sexual abuse never leaves you.

For now though I shall stick by my old-fashioned ‘Innocent until proven Guilty’ motto and hope like anything that this is all untrue. I fear it isn’t but I stand by that motto. What it means for the future of Joe Paterno and the Penn State Football programme and the university as a whole I don’t know but what I do know is it’s a bleak day whatever happens from here on in.

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‘I don’t believe what I just saw!’

I am sitting here in complete disbelief. I have been for about 15-20 minutes now. To invoke the memory of Jack Buck means that something just incredible must have happened and it did overnight. I have seen many things in the world of sport. Not a lot can phase me but seriously the way the baseball gods ended the American League regular season was just completely off the charts. I started writing this blog post over two hours ago and I still genuinely cannot believe what I just (well a couple of hours ago) saw.

The scenario was simple. The Rays and the Red Sox were tied in the wildcard standings. If they both won or both lost they would play a one-game playoff for the right to travel to Texas to play the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. If one of them won and the other team lost then skip the one-game playoff and go straight to Texas. Simple enough.

The Red Sox were in Baltimore to face the Orioles who had nothing to play for except to act as spoilers. The Rays were at home to face the Yankees who had already clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and knew they were flying home to face the Tigers on Friday night.

Both teams were expected to win.

Then the Yankees pounded David Price and took a 7-0 lead with scrubs pitching. It was just a shock to everyone in baseball. The Red Sox had scratched out a 3-2 lead going into the late innings but then the baseball gods awoke and decided it was time to have some fun. The storm system that had been circling around Baltimore’s Camden Yards finally encroached and dropped its liquid over the playing field. The game went into a rain delay. As that was going on the Rays were mounting a furious rally and were back within one but down to their final strike. As the grounds crew removed the tarp in Baltimore Cory Wade’s 2-2 pitch was launched to right field and smashed off the foul pole. Down to their final strike and they tied it.

With the Yankees not risking any of their premier relievers to ensure they got in sufficient rest everyone knew the Rays were winning this game so it was all down to Boston. They inched their way to holding on to that lead and the Orioles were down to their final out when they got a double so the trying run was on base. They were down to their final strike when Nolan Reimold swatted a Papelbon fastball into the alley to tie the game. Three pitches later a soft liner that Carl Crawford should have caught dropped and the Orioles went berserk. The game meant nothing to them but they treated it like their World Series win.

Down in Tampa the crowd went nuts as first they saw and heard the Orioles had tied it and then that they had indeed beaten the Sox. All they had to do was win and within three minutes Evan Longoria had hit a Home Run that creped over the lowered wall that had first been lowered for Carl Crawford who ironically was the guy who failed to mae the play for Boston just minutes earlier.

No-one could ever have written this script. I still cannot believe it happened. The September collapse of the so-called ‘best team ever put together’ is the worst in the history of the sport. I maybe a Yankees fan but I was rooting for an extra game as I always root for the extra game if it doesn’t directly effect my Yankees so I am disappointed.

I won’t rub salt into the wounds as I know how I’d feel if it had happened to my team. The only thing I will say is if they had to lose last night then I’m glad Papelbon was the one to blow the game for them. This is a guy who once thought he deserved to be the closer on an American League All-Star team in Yankee Stadium when Mariano Rivera was also in the bullpen. Yeah let me think about that Papelbon…

So no baseball today and the playoffs start on Friday.

But still I do not believe what I just saw…

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NFL Draft. I’m just not feeling it

Hi All,

After a few days offline whilst migrating servers the blog is back (and very basic). I’ll be working on other things over the next few days on the site and hopefully make it look and feel a bit better and it will allow me to do other things but still, I digress.

The NFL draft is one of the best parts of the NFL off-season but this year it just isn’t doing it for me. The lockout and the seeming lack of a possibility of trades during the draft leads me to think it just won’t have that it factor this year. Cam Newton looks like he’ll go #1 to the Panthers and I don’t think he’ll be a very good NFL calibre player. I know I’m not an NFL scout and I never will be but I saw him in college and he won’t be able to do what he did there in the professional game.

The best player might be AJ Green and it looks like he may fall as far as #4 and he could be a special player – a Larry Fitzgerald type talent at WR. I really like Joke Locker and if he goes to the Vikings at #12 he’ll be a great fit and a fine NFL QB with a couple of years of seasoning.

On a personal level my Jags are being mocked to take Ryan Kerrigan OLB from Purdue. He’d be good and we certainly need someone who can get into the backfield. We’ll surely take a defensive player from the BigTen.

Speaking of the BigTen my Nittany Lions will not see any picks in the first round but we have two players who might get drafted. Evan Royster may go late but Stefen Wisniewski will be a second-round talent who’ll be a steal. He’ll be a multiple Pro Bowl Offensive Lineman and I hope he has a great career.

Here’s to a late night…

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