By In Stuff


As you might imagine, the last couple of weeks have been, well, a lot of things. Mostly, they’ve been horribly sad and haunting and sickening. But, well, you knew that already.

I have done something in the last week that I haven’t done in years. I’ve unplugged. I have dropped off Twitter. I’m not on Facebook. I’m not scanning the Internet. And, as you may have noticed, I’m not posting on the blog. This was a personal decision I made so I could do the work I feel like I have to do. It’s been interesting to go underground. I’m surprised how much more time I have in a day.

I’m sure I will plug back in when I finish my work … and I might pop on here with a post every now and again when something goofy strikes or when I think I have something worth saying or when Duane Kuiper does something great. But there’s a lot to do — even those extra hours I saved not posting on Twitter aren’t enough.

Thank you for reading. Emotions are running high now, and they should be running high because acts terrible beyond words have happened. I appreciate all the opinions people have offered, including some of the most rage-filled. I’ve heard you. Now I am trying to do the best work I know how to do.

Let me say one more thing: I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks talking with many people who have dedicated their lives to preventing child abuse in all its forms, and especially child sexual abuse. I hope to talk with many more. If anything good can come from the alleged horrors of Jerry Sandusky, I hope it is that people will take measure of their rage and find the strength and courage to both report what they know to protect children, and (just as as important) lead those children to help. The statistics of how rarely people across America report child abuse are staggering and heartbreaking. The myth that children who are sexually abused can’t be helped and are destined to be permanently scarred is monstrous and overpowering and that myth prevents so many of those kids from GETTING the guidance and support that could help them lead wonderful lives.

Child abuse — all of it — is a great worldwide shame. This Sandusky story is twisted and awful and painful. But it is also an opportunity.

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100 Responses to Underground

  1. MacGBrown says:

    You’re missed, Joe. We’ll be here when you get back.

  2. “Now I am trying to do the best work I know how to do.”

    Unfortunately–and it saddens me to say this, because I’ve been a big fan for years–this apparently does not include being a journalist.

    Let me put it this way. If a New York Times reporter happened to be one block away from the WTC on September 11, 2001 could he say “let’s not rush to judgment” and “I’m not going to write anything right now” and “I’m going to take a few weeks off to think”? Certainly not–that person would be run out of the profession. Substitute in any other big story that unfolded unexpectedly–a reporter who happens to be on the scene for the Woolworth’s Sit-ins, or the assassination of JFK, or the fall of the Berlin Wall, or whatever.

    By chance, Joe Posnanski–winner of a gazillion “sportswriter of the year” awards–happened to be on the scene when the biggest sports scandal (and perhaps the biggest sports story of the last 10-20 years) broke. A real journalist would seize upon that, whether he/she felt like doing so or not, because that is what a journalist does. But Posnanski ran from it (and apparently plans to continue running from it), while at the same time managing to appear inconsistent/hypocritical, and demonstrating that he’s too close to either Penn State or Paterno to be objective.

    Until a week ago (or so), I really admired Posnanski. I thought that he was one of the handful of sportswriters that “got it.” But now I know I was wrong. He’s just a really good features writer–a better version of Bill Plaschke or CHB or Tony Kornheiser. And while that might be fine–good writing is good writing, after all–I now find that I just don’t trust Joe any more. It is so clear to me that his judgment in this situation is clouded by his relationship with Paterno/Penn State that I now have to wonder about everything he writes. Can I really be sure his pieces on Buck O’Neil, or the Cincinnati Reds, or Bill James, or any other subject are honest and objective? I don’t think so.

    There’s one word that keeps occurring over and over to me as I think about this–particularly this decision to “drop off the grid”–and it’s “coward.” I feel now that if Joe is presented a choice between writing the truth or writing something that is pleasant and uncontroversial but not necessarily accurate, he will choose the latter.

    Ah well, at least there’s still Posnanski’s former colleague Jason Whitlock. But as to Joe himself, well, I think must say goodbye. Which sucks.

  3. Dinky says:

    We miss your voice on the topic, Joe, and I cannot imagine SI editors not saying, “Don’t we have a reporter already in place?” so I’m sure you have had pressure on you to report. I respect your decision, because it’s yours and the reasons seem reasonable in a time of irrationality, but also regret it, because it’s possible that no reporter on the planet could have done a better job with recent events in Happy Valley, and yet you have remained silent.

    I’m not saying this all broke because you dove into college football, but it’s a remarkable coincidence. Finish up and come back to baseball, where you belong.

  4. Craig says:

    To be honest, from a longtime fan who has enjoyed almost every piece you’ve ever written, I was very disappointed in your post on SI from last week talking about JoePa. Not only did I disagree with a lot of your points, I found it really didn’t make a whole ton of sense, which is not at all like you.

    I mean, you saved your harshest words in the post for

    (a) the men who decided to fire Joe Paterno-which you admit, had to be done. I still don’t understand your point here. You say Joe had to go, but is also a scapegoat. Yet he wouldn’t step down. What was the board supposed to do?

    (b) Joe Paterno’s players/friends who didn’t immediately leap to his defence (who perhaps, very reasonably, didn’t want to defend Joe and felt he had done wrong).

    It just sounded ridiculous to me that you direct such anger at two groups of people who have done nothing wrong except not be nicer to Joe Paterno. I don’t get it.

    And you make a ton of excuses for Joe’s actions. And I’m not talking about what he didn’t do in 2002, but what he did in the past week-the ridiculous and tone deaf public statements, and even more offensive, his efforts to stay on as coach for the rest of the season.

    I think you are way too close to your subject. I wasn’t expecting hysteria about how Joe Paterno is the worst human being ever, but I was expecting some perspective. And you failed to provide it-you sounded like a Joe Paterno apologist, which, in its own way, is just as bad as the hysterics out there calling for Penn State to be shut down.

  5. steak says:

    For new readers of this blog, mrfloydpink123 is the arbiter of all that is good journalism. As you can likely tell from his moniker, mrfloydpink123 is a real journalist. His word is final. Joe is not a real journalist. Look away folks; nothing to see here.

  6. joereader42 says:

    Joe, I respect your decision. Take your time.

  7. Let’s give Joe a break. He’s hired to write a love letter to Joe Paterno and this happens in the middle of it. What’s he supposed to do? Act like a “real journalist” and write another in the long line of fire Paterno articles and then look like an idiot when, and if, the book comes out? Write something excusing Paterno’s conduct and look like an idiot now?

    Setting that aside, Joe probably also has legitimate feelings on this as a human being which make it hard to write articles on the topic. I do not believe any of us can really understand Joe’s unique position with respect to this story and we should, as good friends do, support him and wait for him to return when he feels he is ready.

  8. Unknown says:

    Some of you JoPo critics need to read the SI post again. He obviously understands the monstrosity of what happened to the victims of Sandusky. You may disagree with his perspective on what happened to Paterno (and I sorta do), but that doesn’t diminish the trust and respect I have for Posnanski as a writer or human being. Posnanski might not be 100% clear-headed about this Penn State thing, but it would be impossible for anyone close to this situation to be objective. I think it’s probably better to get reporting about this issue from someone not so close to it. Posnanski is still a great writer and even a better person in my book.

  9. GregN says:

    Thanks, Joe. Sad situation for the kids, tough situation for you. Eff the school and the program, it ain’t about them.
    I look forward to any future posts as I enjoy your writing very much.

  10. Frankie B says:

    It’s oh, so easy to sit back and moralize, mrfloydpink123 (and anyone else who’s thinking along the same lines). Ever so much harder to be in the situation. I can sit here and observe that Joe Paterno, as a father and grandfather, much less an icon and purported paragon of virtue, should have raised the roof. And I do think that, since JoePa wanted and profited from the adulation, he did have to live up to a higher standard. But he didn’t. Do I think JoePa is an evil guy? No. He just isn’t the icon he’s cracked up to be. He failed in a basic moral duty that an icon should have performed. No more icon.

    As for Joe Posnanski? He could be like all the screamers out there. He isn’t an eyewitness to what went on. Not at all the same situation as being at Ground Zero on 9/11. But lest we forget, Joe is the parent of two young girls. As a father myself, I am having an incredibly hard time processing all this. Is Joe simply a JoePa apologist because of the book that’s in the works? I don’t think so. I think there’s a lot more going on here than that. I think a lot more of Joe than that.

    I think we all need a little time. I think we need to learn from all this. I think Joe Posnanski is no different. I’m willing to wait for him.

  11. I knew this book was a bad idea. Joe could be writing a book about the Cleveland Indians of the late 70’s, along with numerous hot stove blog posts.

  12. Dinky says:

    Re: floydpink: Let’s put things in a different perspective. Suppose you had been working for months on a book. You had a commitment from and an obligation to a publisher, and maybe (since you recently moved) you had already spent the advance, even on appropriate things like travel and hotels researching the book. You had established relationships and depended on those relationships staying intact to be able to do a good job on the book. You’ve already lost many a night of prime father time (and daughters NEVER get better than they are at Joe’s kids’ age) and husband time preparing for this major book.

    Suddenly a huge story opens up. Just huge. Whether or not you cover the story hundreds of others will investigate it, all the way up to Congress. Your opinion might be the best educated opinion possible. But it will be one voice amongst a huge outcry, and might not get the attention it deserves.

    If you lend your reporting to the story, what happens to all those sources you have been cultivating? Will they still be open when their words might get used against them as the righteous outrage/witch hunt/backlash ensues? Will they risk indictment? What if somebody lies to you because you’re reporting, and somebody else gets hurt by it? How would you be able to explain that to your daughters? Lives will be ruined over this, ignorant people who perhaps were not omniscient, fans who overlooked a little because they were fans. Death threats have been raised. Friendships will end, hatred will ensue. People have lost jobs. There have been riots, for goodness sake!

    So Joe the Reporter and Joe the Author are in direct conflict. Follow Howard Cosell and Jim McKay and other sports reporters suddenly thrust onto a bigger stage, go into the muck, point fingers, criticize, maybe even name names in front of subcommittees and grand juries, without time for proper reflection and source verification? Is that JoePo? I think not.

    I don’t think it’s cowardice. I think it’s a choice, a darned unpleasant choice. I don’t think JoePo wants to ever be Richard Thornburg*. It will be a snakepit, and I’m sorry for any reporter forced to climb in.

    The reporter in Die Hard who outs John McClane’s spouse.

    I think if JoePo reported, as you want, it could change him, and not for the better. I will give up on hearing his voice now in the hopes that next year, next decade, he will still have the humanity to move me to laughter and tears writing about Duane Kuiper and Pixie Stix. The world has enough of the other kind of reporter, but only one Joe Posnanski.

    Besides, if he won a Pulitzer for reporting on this story I bet his agent would force him to give up this blog.

  13. jkak says:

    floydpink is absolutely wrong. Joe Pos is not the person to write about the Paterno/Penn State/Sandusky matter because he is too personally invested in the story most people here have been talking about.

    Read the post again. Joe doesn’t even mention Paterno or Penn State; he talks only about “the alleged horrors of Sandusky.” There is no debating that Sandusky’s acts, if true, are abhorrent and criminal. But Joe Pos is not the journalist to cover that story; there are plenty of writers who will do that as least as well as Joe could.

    The bigger story, and the one I think most if not all of Joe Pos’s readers want him to write about, is the roles of Paterno and Penn State. At some point, months or years down the road, Joe Pos no doubt will be in a position to take on that story. At present, though, I see no way that Joe Pos could possess the distance and objectivity to do that story, or himself, justice.

  14. Pos,

    I can’t begin to imagine the position this puts you in–but you do have an opportunity here–to tell the objective truth amidst a gigantic controversy. There are infinite ways to handle it, and I’m sure you’ll do it like a pro. But the one thing that shouldn’t happen is silencing yourself. readers like myself have followed you work for a long time now, and look forward to each new blog and column. I check your website every day. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to silence yourself. Give us the Joe Posnanski we’ve come to know and love.

  15. jasonlinden says:

    I think everyone should realize that there are, literally, different kinds of journalists. There are the day-to-day breaking news kind (Joe, generally, is not one of these) and then there are the deep-research, take time with articles kind (this is what Joe usually does). Both are journalism. One is about reporting things as they happen, the other is about doing the most thorough reporting possible. I have no issue with Joe doing the latter. I would guess that when he inevitably does publish a full piece about all of this, it will be very well done.

  16. mickey says:

    Agree on the point that there are different types of journalists; JoPo’s feel-good tendencies seem to be his first instinct, and those are no longer what is required–demanded–for the Paterno book that now has to be written. But I think that he is talented enough and has enough professional pride to force himself to do the hard and unpleasant work that surely awaits him as he incorporates this awful situation into the overall picture of Paterno. But he has to win over many former readers who have become doubters, and I think they will be watching closely

  17. David says:

    Mr. Pink has a right to his opinion, and though it may be harsh it is not without some foundation.

    If you think immediate coverage need be unfair or hysterical, take a look at this article by Spencer Hall of

    Spencer Hall, normally a hilarious and frivolous writer about the drunken side of football fandom, wrote a riveting piece in the middle of the storm, lending perspective if not answers. That is what journalists do. They can’t fear that responsibility.

    So I too am disappointed that Joe could not shift gears from hagiographer to reporter. Seems like money really does change everything in sports, whether you’re playing them or covering them.

  18. davidpwcrowe says:

    I was a little choked when my measured and well thought out comment was deleted over at the SI Blog (there were 300+ already when I posted and at least 600+ later in the day so I’m not sure why the whole slate was cleared off)

    I’m willing to JoePoz a break as he was probably suffering from Stockholm syndrome but I don’t ever think I will look at Bill James in the same light again. His comments were really questionable.

    JoePoz didn’t make his name being an investigative journalist so I don’t expect that from him now. As for analysis of this situation, I will withhold my judgement until the book finally comes out.

    This is a once in lifetime opportunity, I’m certain that if you do the best work you know how to do – you make a real difference in a lot of other lives.

  19. I’m getting sick of people like PinkFloyd or whatever the f his name is trying to make this this whole sordid tragedy a litmus test. Yes, a litmus test for whether anybody who isn’t completely irrational and emotional about this whole tragedy is a bad, bad guy. If I hear one more media type a-hole say that we need to tear down statues, skip bowl games, cancel seasons, get the death penalty, bunghole McQuery, check on Paterno’s real estate deals. How the hell any of that has to do with anything other than crazed irrational emotion is beyond me. Jerry Sandusky caused this because he is a sick mother. Put him in jail and throw away the key. Help the victims of this recover and get on with life. Learn something from it and apply it in the future. Painting Joe Paterno as worse than the much underrated bad guy Joseph Stalin may satisfy your emotions. But let’s get some rational thought back and don’t just go along with the TMZ -like media reporters

  20. Matt Foster says:

    Mr. Posnanski,
    In your hardest moment, I assume, as both a writer and a human, I hope you don’t shy away from your critics here. They are both reactionary and prescient. They have compared you to the Best and Worst of sports writing. They are neither right or wrong. But they believe you. And they want an answer. Truth IS, it will dissatisfy most, because the story demands context.

    But that is not the point. You have an audience. And they demand. It’s a product of your competence, nay… excellence. You HAVE to provide here.

    Good luck, godspeed, and Thank You.

  21. Jeremy says:

    I love reading what you write, Joe. I hope and think that is because you love writing what you do. When you are ready again, I, for one, will be here.

  22. Broken Yogi says:

    Another possibility is that JoePoz did attempt to write a piece for SI, and it was rejected as unsuitable because it tried to defend JoePa and came down hard on the critics who are “scapegoating” him. So he was told to do some serious research on child abuse and face up to the reality of it. Which is perhaps a slow and hard process for JoePoz to do, because it’s not about glamorizing his love for sports and winners. Joe is having a hard time realizing that he’s part of the sports-industrial complex that creates this kind of pseudo-reverence for people like JoePa, and the climate in which they can get away with this sort of abuse and cover it up so as not to ruin their reps. Hoping he is able to figure out how screwed up the whole scene is, and even his own participation in it, as is evident by his initial reaction to the news, which was to circle the wagons around JoePa rather than to see what a gigantic creep he actually was when things mattered most.

  23. Hm. Though I would check back to see if others felt as I did. Can’t say I have much regard for the not irrationals and the steaks of the world, with their ad hominem attacks. If you can’t tell the difference between an angry “witch hunter” and a thoughtful poster, that’s your problem. I do have an appreciation for the more thoughtful responses, whether they agree with me or not. I would add a few more remarks to the discussion, I suppose:

    1. I don’t feel there’s much disagreement that Posnanski has been inconsistent at best, and hypocritical at worst. He asked that people “not rush to judgment” and then in the next two days thereafter, he made clear at that PSU class and in his second SI piece that he himself had made some judgments, namely that his friend Joe Paterno had been treated unfairly and had been made a “scapegoat.”

    2. Now, we might forgive these inconsistencies under the circumstances–emotions are running high, and so forth. However, there also seems to be little disagreement that Joe Posnanski’s thought process went something like this, “I’ve got a lot of money on the line here, and my reputation could be damaged, and a lot of personal relationships could be ruined, and I’m not really an expert at this sort of thing anyhow. So, best not to say anything.” Am I wrong about this? Because it seems that even Joe’s defenders acknowledge these elements as part of the dilemma that he faces. And if I am right, how different is this from Joe Paterno’s thought process? Or Mike McQueary’s? They too chose not to say much, since they did not feel qualified to cope, and they did not want to assume the potential personal/professional/financial costs.

    3. Finally, though I think Joe’s response to the situation is being shaped too much by his book advance and his friendship with Joe Paterno, it is certainly his right to feel as he does. But if he wants my respect, at least he has to own it. Disappearing from twitter and facebook and the blog and email is pretty weak sauce. I mean, if some athlete or manager or other sports figure said something very controversial and then refused to speak publicly thereafter, they would be lambasted, right? Why should Joe–who has a half dozen platforms and no risk of being misquoted–be held to a different standard?

    Again, Joe can say and do as he sees fit. So too can his readers. For my part, as things currently stand, I don’t think I can ever read another Posnanski blog post or article or book without thinking about his response here, and wondering things like “What is he unwilling to say? Is this person he’s talking about a friend of his? Is this piece truthful, or is Joe just being a nice guy? Does Joe have any sort of financial relationships that might have influenced this story?” Journalists–whatever kind they are–have to develop a relationship with their readers, to earn their trust. What I am saying is that Joe has, at this point, lost mine. If he even bothers to read the comments here and elsewhere, I think he will see that I’m not the only one.

  24. Banta says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Banta says:

    Mr. Posnanski,

    I wish you all the best. With all the heightened emotions flying around, I wish you clarity to see yourself through this and hope that the ill-informed comments of those who wish to cast the first stone aren’t too upsetting.

  26. Ron de Jong says:

    Too bad Joe, too bad.
    JoePa’s offense was that he didn’t raise hell when he saw evil.

  27. Thomas says:

    Yeah, I’m with mrfloydpink. If Posnanski doesn’t join into the chorus of one-upsmanship, thinking of ever new and creative ways to show that he really, truly gets it, feels for the victims, more than anyone, well, I’ll never read another thing by him. I mean, some might think that we haven’t learned much at all about the situation since the day the grand jury story was released. But that isn’t true. We’ve learned how proud some journalists are about their exquisite sensitivity to the–alleged, they never for that word, even when they invent new “facts” in their coverage; their lawyers have them well-trained–victims here. They’ve told us all about it. I’m so glad they’ve been willing to make the story about their feelings for the victims and their rage at Paterno’s feet of clay. If Posnanski doesn’t join in, we’ll never respect him.

  28. Paul Franz says:

    I, for one, think Joe is doing the right thing here, and I applaud him for it. To take up FloydPink’s example of September 11th – which is a bit of a bad analogy, but still – there were a lot of journalists throwing around hatred and blame and anger at the time which arguably resulted in a less-than-ideal public and, eventually, political response to the problem. Now, I’m not here to discuss politics, but rather to point out that hasty judgments in crisis may be a “journalist’s job,” but withholding judgment might ALSO be a journalist’s job. Trying to unearth, understand, and explain complexity is just as valuable – and even moreso – than moral outrage when faced with atrocity.

    Joe, in particular, is in a complicated position, and no doubt this is a complicated situation. Yes, I’m offended. Yes, I’m upset. Anyone who hears about this situation has to be. But that doesn’t mean I want everything I read, everyone I know, every word written about this situation to be an echo chamber of judgment and outrage. No, I want, impossible as it is, some semblance of objectivity, of withheld judgment, of weighing the story and its many facets. I trust no one more than Joe to deliver that, in time, and I know that it will take time.

    A final thought. It’s easy to have a strong opinion when you hide behind anonymity. Joe doesn’t have the luxury that most Internet denizens exercise. He is not speaking as a faceless self. This is a real human being facing real human tragedy, and, what’s more, trying to do a job, make a living, and raise a family amidst that tragedy. Is it fair that we demand that he be a reporter, on top of that? Is it fair that we demand he be public in all things when we don’t do the same in return?

  29. Sandy says:

    I will continue to enjoy Joe’s product. Joe writes entertaining stories that enhance the world of sports. He has a talent that few others possess. If Joe refuses to write another word about this particular issue, I won’t care. In fact, I think his struggling to approach this subject saps the energy he should be using to do what he does best.

  30. “I’m not the only one.” {mrfloydpink123}

    No, dude with the Pink Floyd pseudonym, you’re not the only one.

    When presented with the option to fight or flight, Joe Posnanski chose flight.

    And fly he did!

    Beyond that, though, how this story has unfolded here shows us that Posnanski’s wheelhouse doesn’t include in-depth, investigative reporting.

    You see, folks, Posnanski has shown himself to not be a journalist, but rather a columnist That’s it.

    Because of that, Posnanski’s schmaltzy, saccharine-sweet style makes him well-suited to pen stories ranging from feel-good books — which are often pap filled with with trite, insipid bullcrap — to more substantive articles featuring advanced baseball analysis; yet, writing hard-hitting pieces like the Penn State scandal are far, far outside of his limited range.

    All things considered, this sordid story sure as hell isn’t Posnanski’s wheelhouse and, as a result, Sports Illustrated should pull him off the story altogether.

  31. Avattoir says:

    My take is the extreme opposite of mrpinklfoyd123:

    If anything, Poz, understandably, lost enough control over his objectivity that, even as he looked back at the little he did write, he recognized the conflict he as in – and part of being a professional – writer, lawyer, doctor, whatever – is recognizing THAT you may be in conflict, then putting on the clampers until you’re sure one way or the other.

    What little he DID write was, well, not optimal – but I don’t know a lot of perfect people (Lesse now, there’s …, uhm, … sheesh, don’t know why but I’m drawing a blank; MOTHER THERESA – no, not here; EINSTEIN … nope … need more time; not sure how long), and it could easily have been worse, far worse (and very often is, from others).

    I find it ENCOURAGING that Poz did what any professional SHOULD do, not doubling down, not reversing field, just backing away from the megaphone, at least to work out the nature of the conflict. There are lots and lots of professional practice associations that actually REQUIRE this, on pain of penalty or loss of professional group insurance for not doing it.

    We actually should not be surprised or discouraged if Poz chooses to walk away completely from this story, or to write about some aspect of it from an angle that doesn’t put him anywhere near College Park or JoPa (or Sandusky; really folks, Poz would not have been Poz if he hadn’t spent time with Sandusky – think about what that means).

    I want also to suggest the professional responsibility that Poz would be living up here, in not publishing at all, has nothing to do with Paterno or any of that, but to his READERS:

    He owes to his READERS his BEST EFFORT AT OBJECTIVITY – yes sometimes maybe often tinged with the fan, Neverland, boy who didn’t entirely grow out of him thing Poz does best of anyone. He owes it to US to seriously consider shutting up now (check, or mostly check), shutting up (near perfect check), thinking about it, SERIOUSLY (I assume as perfect a check as he can), and maybe just walking away from this for, oh, a decade – ’til ‘after the war is over’, as the best war commanders do.

    My guess – no brain surgeon me, here, as Poz has TOLD us this – is Poz knows full well he hasn’t regained objectivity on this; and guess what: he might not ever. That is one of the problems of life as a human, on planet full of humans. If he never does regain objectivity on this, that is not due to any failing on the part of Poz, or any lack of professionalism; that is simply because he is, as many of us here, though not all, accountable first to himself (then family, etc.; we here are down the line some – below professionalism, in the case of prurient curiosities).

  32. Marco says:

    Don’t let it consume you, Joe.

    For example, take a deep breath and read about this:

  33. Marco says:

    ” I don’t think I can ever read another Posnanski blog post or article or book without thinking about his response here”

    Isn’t this just a little over the top? You’re telling us that the next time he writes about snuggies you’re going to be viewing it through the lens of the Penn State response?
    If so, my [unsolicited] opinion is that you need to relax a little.

  34. This is not a big story. I mean, every few months in another town some catholic priest gets busted for this. Not to mention the thousands of cases that slip through the local news outrage meter not to be noticed again. We wait for the pieces to fall.

    Whatever. No one really cares. No one is getting on a bus to State college to… what? Point the metaphorical middle finger?

    PinkFloyd is absolutely the worst kind of person. For some reason this blog has avoided his like. I thought it was the obscurity of it, but maybe he is a crossover from the SI crowd. We all know what is bad about this type of person: first they entertain themselves with anger. Annoying. Second, they turn any sort of horrible bs into this big deal, like Sandusky was their neighbor or something and that they were the type of people that actually talk to their neighbors – puhlease; imagine a pre national news world for just one moment.. this just in, no one gives a hoot about state college pa. Third, the judgements they allow themselves, can you feel the condescending attitude? They search out pinatas to kick the crap out of. But they never really care about anything. Anyone can claim indignation, outrage, moral superiority, but posting on a message board does not a Saint make.

    Pink Floyd, what are you doing to help the abused? What are you doing to make Sandusky tell the truth? What are you doing?

    Posting on a message board. Go back to the obscurity of the SI, and leave this one to people that want to find something other than outrage from and in the entertainment of sports writing.

    I’ll wait for the full report from Joe in a year or two or ten, when whatever it is about the immediacy of life slips past and Jo does what he does and makes the mundaneness of outrage and horror come back alive, just like he does with the mundaneness of triumph and failure.

    Like the first kid they let run the ball for the touchdown when the game was out of reach, when no one knew what they were doing.

    Floyd, I come for joy, from the sorrow and the pain and triumph and everything. Don’t ask Joe to soil the world, he wouldn’t know how.

  35. spencersteel says:

    Given the developments of the past two weeks, it would stand to reason that any legitimate biography on Joe Paterno be put on hold for what might be years. It will likely take that long to get a sense of what the man is/was all about as the Sandusky case wends its way though the system. Until we know exactly what Paterno knew and when he knew it, his entire legacy is on hold.

  36. walia says:

    Like the first kid they let run the ball for the touchdown when the game was out of reach, when no one knew what they were doing.
    Urniary tract infection treatment

  37. Feralad says:

    I cannot fathom how people are missing the big picture with Posnanski here. Some of you get it, but others are off on some other planet. The man is writing a book. A book on the matter. He’s not going to write a couple of blog posts that appease his “so-called fans”, which you claim to be. Why would he? Joe is investing his time in writing the best portrait of Joe Paterno he can possibly write. That’s what he signed up to do and that’s exactly what he said immediately following this incident. Should he just cannon-ball right into the water and not look around him? Posnanski is sitting back because he’s absorbing the material and trying to seek truth. And you call him a coward after all the credibility he’s built up in his marvelous career.

    It’s sad to see this blindness and stupidity from some people.

    Take your time Joe. You know better than we do. Good luck.

  38. Apologies for not reading the entire comment thread. What I have is mostly a good meaningful discussion. The question for me comes down to this: what can Joe contribute at this time? If he had information that has not been reported elsewhere in the media and changes how we would think about this whole thing, then yes, I feel he has an obligation to report it promptly. Some of you are suggesting that that is the situation. I don’t know if that’s the case, however. My sense is that his book will be less about reporting previously unheard information and more a broader look at Joe Paterno. I’m sure he’s conducting interviews, but again, unless there are facts about who knew what when, or other things we ought to know to understand the basics of this, it’s a defensible choice to wait for a larger picture to emerge. Of course he could be doing some big “on the ground reporting,” but, I’m guessing that niche is as about as filled as it needs to be here. I think what rankles people is that JoePo is trying to be fair to JoePa, in the way that storytellers need to be fair to their subjects, but there is an understandable desire to not be fair to JoePa. I do believe he deserves the public flogging he’s getting, but I also believe he deserves JoePo’s take, when it comes. I am willing to wait.

  39. NMark W says:

    @Feralad: Well put. Joe will eventually write pages and pages of immensely interesting facts about Paterno and Penn State and it will include this terribly sickening story involving Sandusky and all of the rest, perhaps throughout nearly the entire book. Given Joe’s abilities it may be considered a “must-read” by all, not just sports junkies.

    On a lighter note, I can see now some tired film director hollering into his phone, “Hollywood, get me re-write!”

  40. Paul Franz says:

    @anthonyking1984 “All things considered, this sordid story sure as hell isn’t Posnanski’s wheelhouse and, as a result, Sports Illustrated should pull him off the story altogether.”

    SI didn’t put him “on the story” in the first place. He’s writing a book about Paterno commissioned by Simon & Schuster (NOT SI). SI has, in fact, dispatched other staff members to cover this story. One assumes this is at least in part because Posnanski is in no position to cover it given his current book work. Indeed, it’s possible he may be legally prevented from “covering” it in the sense that you seem to want him to by the book contract.

    I can understand being upset that Joe hasn’t come out with a strong condemnatory opinion and all, even if I don’t agree with that frustration. What’s not fair, though, is misconstruing the situation by insinuating that he is somehow shirking his professional responsibility by not writing a story on the scandal. Just because he’s employed by a news publication does not mean he is a reporter.

    And anyway, aren’t there enough reporters on the case already?

  41. outlawman2 says:

    It was once said in regards to Jim Murray, the greatest sportswriter to ever pen a story, that “He wrote with passion, with heart, with understanding, and with wisdom”. And he did. But Jim Murray didn’t die, he simply passed his baton to Joe Posnanski. And in doing so, he passed on the passion, heart, understanding and wisdom as well. Hang in there Joe. You are a true man among men. Buck and Jim are proud of ya. I, for one, am too.

  42. KHAZAD says:

    I think child molestation is perhaps the most horrible crime that there is.

    Despite that, I think that Joe’s SI blog article of 11-10 might be the most sober thing that has been written since this came out. Any defense of Paterno at this time “is taken by many as a pro vote for a child molester” In my opinion, that is a witch hunt mentality.

    On TV, the radio, print media, and the internet, I have seen or heard many things stated as fact that are patently untrue. (Sandusky worked for Paterno at the time of the incident, Paterno was aware of the 1998 incident, Paterno did not tell his supervisor, because he knew Sandusky, he had to have known all along, etc.)

    Paterno was singled out and made a scapegoat because we know his name. He was a victim of a witch hunt. When I say this I am not absolving him of any wrong. I think that when time went by, and Sandusky still had an office and privileges on campus, he (as well as Mcquery) should have questioned why in the heck he was still around.

    But singling him out for the blame and making him the scapegoat after he informed his superiors of the report he was given is purely a by product of his fame.

    If you would like to single out someone, try this: The director and the counsel for Second Mile were informed about the 1998 and 2002 incidents and Jerry Sandusky was still heavily involved with the organization and working with children until 2008.

  43. Heh … I’d be thrilled to read a top-secret “Joe Blogs: Underground!” blog.

    Thank you, Joe, for your millions of words that have informed, entertained, and illuminated me. I look forward to millions more, whenever they might start again.

  44. Craig says:

    It would have been fine if Joe had simply said “I’m too close to this”. Disappointing, but fine, if he knew he was too sentimental and close to Joe and PSU to be objective. I would rather he blog out loud, but whatever…

    But instead he chose the worst of both worlds-he has spoken haltingly on the topic (going underground and back overground and then back underground). And what he has written and said on the topic is nonsensical and tone deaf, as I explained in the fourth post of this thread.

    Again, nobody was asking Joe to get out the tar and feathers. But instead, he lashed out at people without any responsibility for this tragedy and made some curious rationalizations for JoePa.

  45. Craig says:


    If you are one of the biggest names in college football history, you WILL ATTRACT MORE ATTENTION IN A SCANDAL! Yeesh-if the President’s chief of staff molested someone and the President did not report it to the police, do you not think the President would get a lot of headlines? Of course-with great power comes great responsibilities.

    No sensible person thinks that Joe Paterno is as bad as Jerry Sandusky. Not even close. But he was the most powerful person on that campus. Therefore, people are wondering why he didn’t do more to prevent this from continuing to happen. A perfectly sensible question.

  46. Jeff Harris says:


    Hopefully you’ll come above ground to post about the baseball awards season.

    And ditto what Damon Rutherford wrote.

  47. Bryan says:

    What a shame that this comment thread has really turned into a mess. English teachers of America, weep for what you’ve produced.

    I can’t think of a writer I’d rather have covering the PSU scandal than Joe Pos. If there’s one quality he has over every other sports writer, it’s his ability to *not* overreact, to *not* write the knee-jerk, and to look for the deeper truth. Joe Paterno deserves that — the truth, be it good or bad — and I trust Joe Pos to find it and write it.

    Joe, you’re deeply missed while you’re underground, but best of luck on your mission.

  48. Broken Yogi says:

    I love it, this child molestation thing is not a big deal, it happens all the time, but anyone criticizing JoePoz or JoePat about their response to it is the very worst kind of person. I take it that means worse than a child molester or one who covers it up. Got it.

    Joe has the world’s worst defenders, bar none.

  49. There could not be a better person than you, Joe, on site to (eventually, when the time is right) make as much sense of this situation as a good researcher and writer could possibly be able to.

  50. Tampa Mike says:

    Joe is a columnist, not a reporter. I don’t understand why people are acting like this is such a bad thing…putting him down for it. Different writers do different things. You wouldn’t ask Stephen King to write comedy.

  51. Viki says:

    Hang in there, Joe. It probably will get worse before it gets better . . . but it WILL get better.

  52. “Joe is investing his time in writing the best portrait of Joe Paterno he can possibly write.”

    There are a lot of Posnanski apologists here. I get it, until a week ago I would have been one of them. But for those who are absolutely persuaded that, given six months or a year or whatever, he will produce a masterpiece, I have three questions:

    1. Is it really possible that ANYONE can do this story justice in the next five years? It seems pretty clear that it will take a long time for the legal situation to be resolved, and longer than that for the resultant feelings, emotions, etc. to be processed. Meanwhile, Joe’s book project has a deadline sometime early next year. I see no evidence that he plans to put it off.

    2. Whether the story is written now, or in six months, or in six years, it now requires a reporter. A serious journalist who knows how to deal with serious, complicated issues. Even Posnanski’s defenders acknowledge that this is not what he does. “Just because he’s employed by a news publication does not mean he is a reporter,” says one. “Joe is a columnist, not a reporter,” observes another. So, exactly what is going to change? If he doesn’t have the skill set to handle the story now, how is he going to acquire it in the next six months? This is not sweet and wise Buck O’Neil or the wacky 1976 Reds.

    3. Finally, Posnanski has revealed his hand here, to use a poker metaphor. He is very sympathetic to Joe Paterno. He is friends with Joe Paterno. Hell, he’s donating some of the money from his book to the charity of Joe Paterno’s choice. So, does anyone REALLY expect Posnanski to present an unbiased or unflinching portrait of Paterno?

    In short, you’ve got a nearly unmanageable subject, being handled by someone who is not particularly prepared to do so, and who has a strong, pre-existing bias. I don’t know who it will be that will write the definitive book on Penn State or Joe Paterno, but I gotta say that I don’t think it will be Joe Posnanski.

    Of course, what do I know? After all, I am the worst kind of person in the world.

  53. mickey says:

    Here’s someone with ties to Penn State and Paterno who is able to writing intelligently and put things in good perspective

  54. mateo says:

    Even bringing this up is giving me pause.

    If there are others of you out there who hope to see Joe walk away from this story with his reputation intact, and a clean and seamless return to what he does best (successful and insightful foray into tragedy notwithstanding)…

    Perhaps we should give the JoePo stuff a break. Just saying.

    Poz seemed fine to me.

  55. Dinky says:

    When floydpink said: “Until a week ago (or so), I really admired Posnanski. ” and “But as to Joe himself, well, I think must say goodbye. ” (sic) it says more about pink than Joe.

    A while back, I was interviewed for a jury. It was a rape case, of a woman approximately the same age as my wife, and it had occurred just a few blocks from our house in the very low crime neighborhood of Rancho Park, California (west of Century City). And I told the judge, I don’t know if I can be objective. Will I latch onto something that is an unreasonable doubt to keep the investigation open to find the real rapist? Will I want so badly for the criminal to be locked up (protecting my wife) that I’d find an innocent man guilty? I felt I was too close to this case to be impartial, and followed the jury instructions to state my lack of impartiality.

    I want to read Joe’s take on the subject. I miss Joe’s blog. But I can easily understand Joe feeling he is too close to be impartial. I will lose no respect for Joe for his silence. I *might* lose respect for Joe for writing with too much of a bias, either way.

    So one game for the World Series, Dodgers versus Tigers. Who wins it: Kershaw or Verlander? I know, the Tigers win it because they rake, but only the obvious awards (Cy Young, ROY) are out so far. Would Kershaw have gone 4-0 versus Lincecum if Lincecum had the Tigers batting behind him? I don’t think so.

  56. blovy8 says:

    “I don’t really know why yet” is a pretty short story. I’d rather hear what he has to say when he’s sorted it out.

  57. Linus says:

    “There’s one word that keeps occurring over and over to me as I think about this–particularly this decision to “drop off the grid”–and it’s “coward.””

    Thanks a lot, the irony of this condemnation coming from a guy calling himself “mrfloydpink123” just broke my computer.

  58. Unknown says:

    Joe Poz is not a journalist, and the many attacks or claims that he has failed as a “journalist” are misplaced.

    Joe Poz is a writer. There are three types of written media.

    Writers tell stories that are supposed to be interesting, engaging and deep portraits of a subject.

    Journalists report the news without consideration for their own opinion. The reader should decide.

    Columnists speak on the news in an opinionated and less objective manner.

    Joe Poz is primarily a writer, but he makes a consistent living, too, as a columnist. His SI piece was a column, which accurately and appropriately addressed his opinion, as a columnist, that Paterno was wrong. His column also addressed his other role in the situation, as a writer, to tell a complete story.

    Most everyone failed in this situation, including the great many of people similar to mrpinkfloyd who demanded total moral/intellectual perfection.

    First, a good number of journalists failed to be journalists, often interjecting their personal opinions into the news. A good number of columnists failed to base their opinions off of actual facts or news, because of the necessity to rush their publication to the newsstand. A good number of writers failed in getting the fullest picture possible before telling the story.

    And all of the readers have failed in finding some outrage in each other for their own personal frustrations, be it with the media or each other.

    I think that people like mrpinkfloyd, who lean on a singular incident as cause for all kinds of crazy things, like moral debt, infinite hypocrisy, duty, and so on, are a real problem in the way we’ve come to view the world as consumers of media. mrpinkfloyd has, because of the opportunities afforded by technology, personalized Joe’s evolution of thought in this situation as an offense to his very delicate sensibilities. As if some great trust has been lost.

    Joe Poz is a great writer, and generally a great columnist. He’s not a journalist, and rarely do I believe he pretends to be. But he is, as it goes, flawed. Being a great writer generally involves understanding the human experience and that this experience is not perfect.

    Whether Joe Poz is guilty of double talk or if everything in the complicated web of things he’s said is true, he’s going through that array of experiences. That does, yes, become valuable as a writer, even if it seems shape-shifting in the present.

    The people who say he’s lost them as a reader, I say good riddance to them. It’s too bad. Redemption is an important part of who we are as a people. It’s too bad some have forgot.

  59. Unknown says:

    Oh, and one other thing —

    mrpinkfloyd is totally incorrect in his assumption that any story that requires in-depth analysis can only be best accomplished by utilizing a reporter. This is actually the opposite of the truth, but probably a good barometer of how and where he gets his information and the shallowness with which he approaches things, which is the call of reporters, and those who’d rely on them solely.

  60. Grulg says:

    A few things:

    *I may ding Joe Poz here from time to time, but I recognize he is in a hard place here. Big time $ assignment, high profile, and it blows up in his face after he’s been at it for a year or more. Of Course he’s going to be A: expected to weigh in as an expert on JoePa and B: he’s going to be Too Close to the Story to really give it the proper ‘distance’ it deserves.

    *I think Joe Poz screwed up in his varied statements, as Noted_Sage FinkPloyd said up there(points)-he comes off as Defending JoePa instead of going after the real target here-Sandusky and the cowards in the Penn State Hierarchy who chose to cover up and look the other way for years ala your Catholic Bishop of Choice. So many involved are compromised here–Joe Poz for his book, Paterno for, well, not doing the right thing, Penn State bigwigs for being cowards and just hoping this all went away. It’s sickening.

    *Am curious-what exactly DID Bill James say about this?? I’ve seen him take these really weird swipes at stuff that have Nothing to do w/ his player write ups–‘professionalism’, ‘title 9 being a waste’, stuff like that. That’s fine he’s entitled to Andy Rooney as much anyone else-but it does make you wonder. As I said, just look at his write ups of Hornsby or Dick Allen. Egads.

    *Come back when you think the time’s right and the coast is clear Joe Poz.

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  62. Mark Daniel says:

    I think the problem here is that some people believe Joe Paterno’s actions in this mess were unusually vile and uniquely reproachful. I believe he erred tragically, but I don’t think it was strange or unusual. Joe Paterno acted just as most Americans would have acted, and have acted in the past.
    1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are estimated to be victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18. That’s en enormous number of people. This can only happen if many people all over the country underestimate the severity of what they see or hear.

    I’m not glossing over Joe Paterno’s actions. I’m just saying that he’s not unique. Ask Jim Boeheim. Ask anyone associated with Michael Jackson.
    You may think that Paterno had an extreme moral failing, and you may be right, but you should realize that the bell also tolls for thee.

  63. Thatch85 says:

    “I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks talking with many people who have dedicated their lives to preventing child abuse in all its forms, and especially child sexual abuse.”

    I don’t understand how it’s not clear to mrfloydpink123 and other Poz critics what Poz is doing right now. He’s not in the business of immediate reporting. There are other journalists doing that. But how can you read Poz’s posts, including this one, and conclude that he isn’t doing any information-gathering?

    I defended Poz at first, then after his comments in the class, I emailed him to express my disappointment. I’m sure many others did as well. But some of these critics are just getting ridiculous. I get the emotion. I disagreed, but I even understood the initial criticisms. But if you’re still upset, just get off this blog already. Poz is out there talking to sex abuse experts so he can better understand what it is he’s writing about, and you’re on here complaining that he’s not…what? I don’t even know. If he says something stupid again, like I think he did in the class, I’ll say so. If his book ends up being a puff piece and nothing more, he’s going to have even more critics and deservedly so. But get off his back. He’s doing his job.

  64. davidinnyc says:

    @Grulg —

    Bill James’ thoughts on the topic can be found in the “Hey Bill!” section of his web site, Bill James Online ( I think James is a truly brilliant writer — genius, even — but he has some rather prominent blind spots. Read them for yourself, but my take on what he wrote at his site was, basically, this is a rerun of the John Dowd/Pete Rose nonsense (short summary: James thought Rose was innocent and Dowd had not done his homework). Honestly, I think James would have been better served by taking Joe Pos’ approach of just keeping his mouth shut.

    As for Joe Pos himself: well, I presumed that the reason he had not been posting here was pretty much what he just told us. That is certainly his prerogative; as much as I would have liked for selfish reasons to read his thoughts and opinions, I understand his reluctance right now.

  65. Craig says:

    I strongly criticized Joe for his article and comments–and I was extremely disappointed in hearing what he had to say.

    That doesn’t mean I’ll “get off this blog”, as one commenter above so politely put it. I love Joe’s writing. I just happen to think he effed up here, and he did so on an issue that is especially sensitive to me. I happen to believe that Joe wants his readers to respond to his pieces honestly.

  66. Do what you have to do, Joe. Go see that family we keep hearing about. 🙂

  67. Craig says:

    Mark Daniel,

    “I’m not glossing over Joe Paterno’s actions”

    Yeah, you just did. If saying “most other people would have done the same thing” isn’t glossing over someone’s actions, I don’t know what is.

    And I believe that you’re wrong. Most people would have reported the assault directly to the police as reputedly told to Joe Paterno. And most people would not have been able to bear the presence of Jerry Sandusky in those circumstances.

  68. Thatch85 says:

    Craig, I don’t mean all of the critics. I think you’re a lot more measured than many others. So much of the criticism I read seems to be uncharitable, speculative, and even dishonest.

    I’m really reserving “Get of the blog” to people who read this sentence from Joe — “Now I am trying to do the best work I know how to do.” — and suggest that he isn’t going to do that. There are people who seem to think that Poz isn’t going to address the scandal.

    I think Poz’s proximity to Paterno, what he said in the Penn State class, etc. raise a lot of interesting questions for a discussion about journalistic standards. I’m open to having that discussion.

  69. Mark Daniel says:

    Craig, maybe most people wouldn’t do the same thing as Paterno. But based on the immense number of kids who are victims of sexual abuse (estimated in the tens of millions in the US alone), I just can’t imagine it happening with most people being willing to run to the police at the drop of a hat. I rather think they don’t run to the police even when presented with evidence.
    But, my intent wasn’t to say, “Everybody would do the same thing, so Joe Paterno is excused.” My intent was to say something more like “Joe Paterno is probably like a lot of other people, so we as a society are failing miserably in this regard.”

    To Joe’s point, there is an opportunity here. Child predators are very secretive, such that even the people closest to them have no clue what they are really doing. And the victims are deathly silent in their shame. Maybe those are the main reasons these things are happening to kids in such great numbers. But, if we start to look at the Penn State case as some isolated incident of morally bankrupt individuals covering up for a serial rapist, then we haven’t gained anything. We’ve simply transferred the evil from Sandusky to Paterno and company, which wraps the whole sordid affair up in a neat package that we can toss in the corner and forget about.

    The truth, I believe, is that this type of thing, be it a cover up or ignorance or an underestimation of the severity of what’s happening, is common. And the opportunity now is to make it uncommon. I think you, Craig, and others on this board, are saying you would definitely go to the police if you were in Paterno’s shoes. That is good news. Because that is part of what’s needed to stop people like Sandusky.

  70. ChuckkJay says:

    How is it, again, that Joe Pos owes us anything? Last time I checked, this blog was free. His posts and columns on SI are free. As far as I know, I’ve read about 99% of every word Joe has published in the last five years – excepting Twitter, that media doesn’t interest me much – and I’ve never paid a cent. So there are all these people demanding some content from Joe … for free? I’ve never even thought of Joe as a journalist. Ever. He’s not. He’s an author, and has a way with words that puts him in rarefied company with other people who can weave magic with language. Did I like his comments in that class about Paterno? No. I didn’t agree with them, either. But geez, people, we’re all treated to free content from this amazing wordsmith and now he’s getting piled on because he’s actually – gasp! – choosing what he wants to write or not write about?

    I’m mostly just sad because I have to believe this whole thing has permanently changed Joe Pos, and I believe that his writing may never be the same. Dammnit.

  71. Paul Franz says:

    If you refuse to read a writer’s work because he or she has some moral failing, you’ll find you don’t have much to read.

  72. The selfish non-paying blog customer in me would really like to read Joe’s thoughts on the MLB offseason, which already seems chock full of enough quality material to keep Joe busy through March. But, alas, Joe happened to be State College in November of 2011, and so we can only imagine what he’s thinking right now if he’s thinking about baseball at all.

  73. David says:

    Floyd Pink, you’re actually kind of funny. You kicked off this whole debate by laying into Joe for not writing about it, and calling him a coward. Then, a day later, you make a very good case that Joe would be incapable of doing a good job handling the subject. Which is it? If he can’t deal with the matter properly, then he shouldn’t write about it at all, but if goes that route, he’s a coward. Your argument(s) doesn’t hold water. As mentioned by other commenters, Joe either doesn’t owe us anything, or he owes us his best effort. In neither case does he owe us an incomplete, half-considered report. On top of that, I think you owe Joe an apology. Calling someone a coward shouldn’t be done lightly, and I can’t see how you could know enough about the situation or what is going on with Joe to do so.

    As for Joe, he is my favorite writer to read on a day to day basis. He’s kind, he’s wise, he’s a man of the people, and I don’t think he’s lost touch with any of that, even if he’s had more success of late. He writes books about things that he loves, and so I can’t help but conclude that he loves Paterno. Think about that, though. Here’s this legend that he has so much respect for and now has a personal relationship with, and then he finds himself in the middle of this tragedy. If Posnanski has let his feelings for Paterno cloud his judgment, that’s too bad, but I think it’s hard blame him. It doesn’t make him right, but he never claimed to be some coldly rational arbiter of justice. If he said some things in Paterno’s defense that he shouldn’t have, then tell him that, but don’t attack him as a person. If all of this happened to someone you were close to, wouldn’t your first instinct be to think that your friend couldn’t possibly have done something that venal, that weak? My heart goes out to Joe, and I wish him the best. He’s always been the calm voice of wisdom, and I trust that in the end, he still will be. He has his principles, and he would only have gone underground, as he said, if he thought he had to. Joe, most of us are really rooting for you, and we’ll welcome you with open arms when you come back.

  74. KHAZAD says:

    Craig- The president and chief of staff analogy is a poorly though out one. Sandusky was NOT on Paterno’s staff or involved with the football program when this occurred. Paterno is not the most powerful man on campus.

    Mcquery told his superior (Paterno) Paterno did the same. There is no difference at all between the two of them. The failing is higher up, in the people who actually wielded the power.

    The AD, the President, the guy in charge of the campus police, all of whom were informed. Those guys chose to bury this. Those 3, as well as the leaders of Second Mile, were aware that this was the second reported incident involving Sandusky.

    While I agree that Paterno’s name and status made him an easy scapegoat, and I understand the University’s need to make a change to quell the media firestorm, I completely disagree with how it was done. He should have been told face to face and given an opportunity to resign. If he refused that opportunity, then they could fire him.

    Personally, I would rather focus my anger at those at the top who willfully buried this, rather than focusing anger and schadenfreude on someone who did not, simply because of his fame.

  75. augustinius says:

    Dear Mr. Posnanski,

    As you work your way through this tragedy and scandal, I offer these thoughts from a couple of ethics professors on the matter. I found them thoughtful and evocative.

    All best wishes as you try to process all that has happened and what’s to come.

  76. Craig says:


    Perhaps my analogy is not perfect, but you are hopelessly naive. The men “above” Joe Paterno tried to fire him in 2003. They couldn’t. Doesn’t sound like they are more powerful than him.

    Joe Paterno wields an incredible amount of power at Penn State. How can you sensibly deny that?

  77. augustinius says:

    As I understand it, the article is not intending to deny Joe Paterno’s power, and it is not intending to suggest his innocence. It is simply talking about the ways that power structures can create a reason or excuse for not acting. And whatever his stature, he was not formally the most powerful by any stretch.

    I’m not sure I see you point.

  78. “If you refuse to read a writer’s work because he or she has some moral failing, you’ll find you don’t have much to read.”

    This ought to be carved in stone somewhere, Mr. Paul Franz.

  79. Mark says:

    I’m just gonna chime in, and hopefully Joe reads it, if no one else.

    “Journalism” can be different things. Some journalists report facts without emotion, giving readers the story without editorializing and letting the reader decide for him/herself. That’s a noble goal.

    Some journalists are hired to give analysis on topics. Their job isn’t to break stories but to put those stories in perspective. Emotion and analysis is their trade. That, too, is a noble goal.

    I think we’d all agree that Joe falls in the latter category. And I think when he says he’s trying to get his head straight about this whole thing, I can respect that. This is a crazy, horrific story, and piling with the “FIRE JOEPA!!” stuff (justified as it may be) really adds nothing to the discourse. For the last week, everyone’s been writing that article (and it’s a position I agree with, so I’m not necessarily complaining). I’m willing to give Joe time to write something a bit more measured, a bit more nuance, because I trust his writing and trust his integrity.

    Best of luck, Joe, and I hope you come back from the break reinvigorated and ready to continue writing.

  80. Ben says:

    Put me in the camp that thinks JoePoz should walk away. From Penn State, from Paterno, all of it. I don’t see how a decent biography can be written when Paterno’s legacy has been altered so much. As someone mentioned in a previous comment, it could take years for the full story to come out.

    I selfishly hope JoePoz is back to blogging soon, but I can’t imagine the situation he’s been thrown into.

  81. Bruce says:

    I agree Ben. If Poz finished the book, people are going to skip right to the last chapter that touches on this tragedy. I believe very few people, apart from those in Happy Valley, have any interest in the life story of Joe Paterno anymore.

  82. Chris M says:

    “Let me put it this way. If a New York Times reporter happened to be one block away from the WTC on September 11, 2001 could he say “let’s not rush to judgment” and “I’m not going to write anything right now” and “I’m going to take a few weeks off to think”? Certainly not–that person would be run out of the profession. Substitute in any other big story that unfolded unexpectedly–a reporter who happens to be on the scene for the Woolworth’s Sit-ins, or the assassination of JFK, or the fall of the Berlin Wall, or whatever.”

    What if that NY Times reporter was working on a book about the 2000 Election and had close personal access to President Bush and the White House inner circle? You’d prefer that reporter to rush to judgment and write tons and tons of articles about 9/11 and just forget about his book, or would you prefer that author to reserve judgment, let the millions of other journalists take care of the immediate reaction, and instead use his close access to change his book from a story about the 2000 election to a book about the Bush Cabinet and their response to 9/11? Personally, in that scenario, I’d FAR prefer the NY Times reporter to keep his access and give us the definitive book on 9/11, rather than a few quickly forgotten blog posts.

  83. Bob Forer says:

    For the second time in a week, Joe, you’ve shot yourself in the foot. Last week’s SI column wherein you served as JoPa’s no. 1 apologist was not the JoePo I used to read with admiration. Now, instead of reflecting and perhaps retreating from the cheerleading of your SI blog, and starting afresh, you disappear. And you do so despite the fact that you have been living in College Station for the past several months and are the unanimous natural to write everthing that is both definitive and honest on the matter, given your writing skills, your intimate connection to the Penn State scene, and your reputation as a good and decent man.

    The second shot hurts worst than the first.

    They say the third time is the charm, so one more errant missive, and we’ll have to amputate.

    And with that amputation your moniker will invariably have to be changed from JoePo to JoePoz, or more appropriately JoPas, as you and Paterno will be one and the same.

  84. gbewing says:

    You all project what you want onto your heros whether it be Joe Posnanski or Joe Paterno. You don’t know them, you just need to feel like your heros think and act just like you do. It doesn’t matter what Posnanski thinks it’s not about him. Joe Paterno great football coach, mentor for many but mostly a product of image creation and very few really can say they know anything about him. Did he choose to protect his friend, legacy, football program over kids? I don’t know but I know a lot about the dynamics of abuse and it sounds pretty typical. People think of themselves first, that’s the dirty little secret. Do we really think this couldn’t or hasn’t happened at other schools? The more powerful and iconic someone or something becomes the more detached they get from the common good and perspective of the world they live in. Joe created this blog for the same reason everyone else created a blog -to market an image and to sell things. It’s not a bad thing, it doesn’t mean he’s not talented, but it is what it is and none of you know him as a person, you just know his talents and his on stage persona just like everyone he writes about.

  85. Joe, I wish you the best in your work and hope you hurry back. As a PSU alum, it was refreshing to see that the person who I consider the best sportswriter of the current age had a more measured take on the situation (and yes, one closer to my own) than the ravening hordes of the media.

    The most pertinent line I’ve heard: “Just because Joe Paterno the man couldn’t live up to Joe Paterno the ideal doesn’t mean that Joe Paterno the ideal isn’t something worth striving for.”

    Eagerly awaiting your return to the overground!

  86. Unknown says:

    I think the arguments from floydpink and craig as well as his defenders are both valid. Floyd was a little over the top and calling him a coward was uncalled for, but his anger shows me that he loves Poz just like we all do. It is a touchy subject for some, but espescially for those who have experienced a similar type of abuse done to themselves or a loved one as Craig alluded to. I think it is just as wrong to judge and ridicule them as it is ok to defend Poz.

    IMO Poz is guilty of one thing and that’s being a hypocrite. Poz can’t tell people to wait for the facts and reserve judgement and then a day and a half later rip the media, call JoePa a scapegoat but say he needed to go at the same time. That’s the one thing that I’m upset with Poz over. Its certainly true that Poz owes us nothing and I will always enjoy his work and I eagerly await his return. I feel for Poz because he’s clearly hurt and conflicted and I think we have to understand he’s just another human being like all of us. Hang in there Poz.

  87. Bob Forer says:

    Unknown. Your astute, well-written observation is appreciated. Thanks for reminding us that JoePo is human like the rest of us. I hope he comes not only swinging, but at the right pitch.

  88. I have little to add to this abundance of comments, but as a regular reader and occasional commenter, I need to state that I appreciate all the thoughtful comments and deplore the more hysterical and self-righteous ones. Joe’s behavior in this impossibly gut-wrenching situation has not been perfect, but how many of his critics in similar situations would have handled things better? It’s so easy to stand on the sidelines, after the fact, and absolutely KNOW that you would have done things differently. So aside from condemning Sandusky, who, if he is guilty of the acts of which he is accused, is a monster, we need to condemn those like Paterno, who may have been part of a cover-up – which is fair enough, assuming that we are sure of our facts. But that’s not enough, because now we need to condemn those who, rightly or wrongly, are not prepared to be harsh with Paterno. I suppose the next objects of attack are those who defend Joe Poz. Again, many of the criticisms of Poz here have been fair and measured, even if I disagree, but some have been over the top.

  89. This comment has been removed by the author.

  90. Mr. PinkFloyd is apparently the master of journalism. I figured he’d be writing this book since he knows the best way to approach it, etc. How many APSE sportswriter of the year awards has he won?

  91. Thatch85 says:

    Bob Forer, what exactly are you condemning Poz for?

    “Now, instead of reflecting and perhaps retreating from the cheerleading of your SI blog, and starting afresh, you disappear. And you do so despite the fact that you have been living in College Station for the past several months and are the unanimous natural to write everthing that is both definitive and honest on the matter, given your writing skills, your intimate connection to the Penn State scene, and your reputation as a good and decent man.”

    These are the things Poz wrote in this post:

    “And, as you may have noticed, I’m not posting on the blog. This was a personal decision I made so I could do the work I feel like I have to do.”

    “I’m sure I will plug back in when I finish my work”

    “Now I am trying to do the best work I know how to do.”

    “Let me say one more thing: I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks talking with many people who have dedicated their lives to preventing child abuse in all its forms, and especially child sexual abuse. I hope to talk with many more.”

    Please Bob — tell me where in this post Poz “shot himself in the foot.” All he’s saying is he appreciates the response from his readers, even those who vehemently disagree with him, and that while he’s continuing to do his work, he’s going to be on twitter and this blog less. That’s it. He’s doing his job.

  92. NMark W says:

    Maybe some simple geography notes here to help those of you who seem to otherwise know so much about the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case….

    ‘College Station’ is in the southeast-central part of state of Texas and the home of Texas A&M.

    ‘State College’ is in north central Pennsylvania and is where Penn State University is located.

  93. Hurry back, Joe. The Paterno news is one thing, but your commentary on the AL MVP vote and the announcement that the E Street Band will be touring in 2012 is much needed.

  94. Andrew says:

    Agree with Fool’s. I am most definitely missing your take on Verlander. Understand what you’re going through, best of luck and don’t let this change you.

  95. mickey says:

    More chipping away at the Paterno myth.

    Coverups and football uber alles as seen in recent events look less like an aberration and more like a way of doing business.

  96. Zachary says:

    It always seems easier in such tragic situations to think we would act differently. It reassures us. It also reassures us to make monsters up. Sandusky. Paterno. Posnanski even. It was a terrible terrible tragedy. But as we make up these monsters we forget that child sex abuse is more often committed by a relative or an acquaintance. So we create a little box to put monsters in and this contributes to the (in)action vilified in Paterno. These acts aren’t supposed to be committed by people we love, by people we trust, by our uncles, husbands, good friends – after all they aren’t the monsters we have created. Think of how this has impeded countless people stepping forward to defend a child. We really have to understand that the rage being spewed also does it’s part to conceal the nature of child abuse because it creates a narrative where monsters are easily recognizable. Too often the abusers are people we know and trust and maybe even love.

  97. To follow up on Mickey-the story is that the benevolent all-knowing good King of Happy Valley was in fact a tyrant indifferent to morality, and indifferent to the suffering of children a the hands of his one-time chief assistant.If Posnanski wants to write a happytalk book about the wonderous King Joe Pa now, good luck with that. But a journalist like the WSJ’s writers are onto a big important story.

    There’s a choice here, Mr. Posnanski. If you choose the first path, you deserve all the derision herein. If you choose the latter, everyone will want to read it.

    Or you could pack up the plantation back for KC and write about the Royals, Bill James, Duine Kuiper, et al. No shame in that. But if you want to write about Paterno, there is no real alternative but to back away from the subject and tell us the who, what, when, where and how.

  98. John S. says:

    As someone inclined to be on the “righteous anger” side of this whole situation, that was very well said. Thank you.

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