Originally published on SILVERMAN: On Sports, January 22, 2012:
What is the character of a man?
Is it the number of wins? The losses? What he did with his time? His money? The way he lived his life?
These and others are going to be the questions that will be debated after the death of Joe Paterno. Paterno was 85.
Here is the box score on JoePa’s life:
409-136-3 overall record as head coach at Penn State
24-12-1 all time bowl game record.
Two national championships. Three Big Ten titles.
All time winningest head coach in FBS history. His final win came against Illinois in his last game. The win gave him one more than Grambling great, Eddie Robinson.
46 years in the den as the top Nittany Lion.
$4 million donated by Paterno and his wife to the university he spent the majority of his life serving.
All the players he sent to the NFL. All the lives he touched in positive ways. The number of men he helped in his career is countless.
BUT all that being said, his legacy may be tied to a man that hurt young men. Touched their lives in all the wrong ways.
Is it fair to Paterno? It’s not really my job to say. Actually, it’s yours. You need to judge him on your own. Not after reading my columns. Not after reading the countless articles written since the Jerry Sandusky tragedy was exposed and Paterno was fired. That is the way it should be. The public being educated about the facts and formulating their own opinions on a subject. I realize that I am going off on a tangent but actually this is the perfect story to tell while standing on my soapbox regarding making up your own mind.
Paterno was a polarizing figure in the last three months. He had his supporters and detractors. The Washington Post article and interview published last week shed interesting light on him. As I wrote in my column, Joe Paterno: The Sandusky Tragedy, Lung Cancer, Chemotherapy and His Career, I wish he had spoken out right after his dismissal. I didn’t think that statement’s by Paterno during the height of his chemotherapy treatments was the most ideal time to get his true feelings and knowledge of the Sandusky situation.
The trials will come and more of the facts will come out. Without Paterno’s testimony, we will probably never know exactly what role he played or what he really knew about what his friend and assistant was involved in regarding the alleged abuse of children.
Now the man born days before Christmas in 1926 has lost his battle with cancer. A battle for the most part, he fought secretly and I am sure, bravely. I only wish he had shown the same bravery facing the Sandusky story.
Related articles and complete coverage of Joe Paterno written by Bruce Silverman for SILVERMAN: On Sports: