The message has been sent loud and clear, whether you think the penalties in State College, Pa., are too harsh or not harsh enough:
We must protect our children.
The irony is that Joe Paterno’s “legacy” has always been the issue and a dozen years after his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, retired in the prime of his coaching career, Paterno’s “legacy” is ruined.
Paterno’s prized possessions — his records — are gone, along with his statue and his program. He has left a mess beyond compare for Andover’s Bill O’Brien, the new head coach.
I still haven’t come to grips with everyone associated with the Nittany Lions football program, including assistant coaches, athletic directors and presidents, that knew about Sandusky’s crimes.
How were they able to sleep at night a few hours after attending a game or event when the Jerry Sandusky they knew was taking a new boy along for the festivities?
How did Tom Bradley, who spent 30 years as one of Paterno’s assistants before taking over as defensive coordinator when Sandusky “resigned” after the 1999 season and then interim head coach when Paterno resigned last December, not know?
What went through the mind of former Penn State quarterback and assistant coach Mike McQueary, who reported Sandusky having inappropriate contact in a shower a decade ago, when he saw Sandusky alone with other boys roaming around the football program after the incident?
A lot of people have a lot of explaining to do.
But back to the, hopefully, intended victors of what has transpired the last few months and really the last few days — children.
As a whole, we have our priorities slightly messed up. Winning, and what comes with it, is too important in our culture. There is no better example of that than at the big-time collegiate level where coaches make 10 times more than their superiors.
Paterno accumulated too much power over his reign, which brings to mind a quote from “Julius Caesar,” “The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.”
If the Paterno’s legacy is collateral damage for a movement that goes out of its way, unlike that has ever been done before, to protect our children, then the shaken legacy won’t go down in vain.
Only then will our children be the big winners here.