Keller @ Large: Joe Paterno Made The Wrong Choice

BOSTON (CBS) – No one alleges that Joe Paterno, the longtime college football coach celebrated for his ethical standards, has ever condoned child sexual abuse.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

But Paterno is headed out the door in disgrace in the wake of news that he merely told his superiors about an eyewitness allegation of child rape by one of his assistant coaches, doing nothing more to pursue the facts and serving for years on the board of a charity founded by the alleged pedophile – to help at-risk youths.

A top police official is calling that a lapse of “moral responsibility,” and in a statement yesterday, Paterno seemed to agree, saying: “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

And the story lends sad irony to a quip Paterno made years ago after President Richard Nixon declared Texas the nation’s #1 team after they had finished tied with Penn State.

Said Paterno: “How could the president know so little about Watergate… and so much about college football?”

That’s a good question.

And here’s the answer – Nixon knew plenty about Watergate.

But he covered it up because he placed more value on his political career than he did on the rule of law.

No one thinks Paterno approved of his sidekick’s alleged crimes.

But it seems he valued his friendship, and/or his own image more than the need for other possible victims to be protected and for justice to be done.

We see these kinds of decisions being made all the time.

Athletes who think their needs take priority over those of the team; politicians who place their party or their ego over doing the right thing for the public at large; journalists who think their view of the world takes precedence over the truth; union leaders who see the public as cows to be milked for more taxes, and corporate CEOs who sacrifice their employees’ future in favor of bumping up their stock price.

At some point in your life, you will be confronted with the question — are you just in this for yourself, or do you really care about others?

Take a tip from Joe Paterno — better consider the consequences of making the wrong choice.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • mikey

    This entire situation is abominable – absolutely abominable. What the hell is wrong with Paterno? He should have been yelling “FIRE!” I’m glad he’s gone.

    My condolences to the victims.

    • gramps

      Say it ain’t so,Joe?

      Jon, you hit that on ‘out of the park!!!


      Might I add, ‘Past & present Power Company CEO’s, POL’s & Lobbyists’ who either ignored, looked the other way or pushed for laws & rules that aren’t in the public interest….They S/BE charged with conspiracy to commit ‘involuntary manslaughter’ B/4 during & after the fact’ in the death by ‘hypothermia’ of 86 year old Dorothy Hall of Brookfield.

      • Willow

        What does Dorothy Hall have to do with any of this?

      • gramps

        I realize it’ll be a ‘stretch’ for you but , think it through…


        I know I’m asking a ‘LOT’!

      • The Batman

        Since you are the only one who can utilize your convoluted thought processes then I guess that the rest of us will be left to wonder what someone associated with a gambling scandal and a woman who died because her son didn’t insist she go to a shelter has to do with child abuse.

      • gramps

        Ask ‘Robin’…

        Then you can share with ‘Willow’…..


        That is if you know who ‘Robin’ is?

  • tsal

    “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

    That says it all – You do not need hindsight to know the right thing to do when it comes to something this horrific. His decision to put himself and the institution first has forever affected the lives of what I believe will turn out to be many young boys. He simply revolts me. As far as the students protesting last night – they also revolt me.

  • FireGuyFrank

    You’re right, Jon, but I feel more needs to be done to punish Penn State. The wins must be vacated from 2002 through present, and the remainder of this season forfeited.

    Players on the team must be allowed to leave Penn State and play elsewhere next season rather than have to wait one year.

    Scholarships for football must be taken away for at least five years, with no post-season appearances for at least the same amount of time, if not longer.

    The NCAA must make it perfectly clear (to conjur Richard Nixon) that there is a right way to proceed in such cases, and Paterno’s paternalistic, “everything will be fine if we never talk about it again” is not the right way.

    • tsal

      great comments Frank!!!

    • Mark


      I think we all share in the disgust in what happened but what you’re suggesting will penalize a lot of decent people that had no connection to this event.

      In addition Sandusky wasn’t a PSU employee in 2002. His camp used the facilities but he quit PSU in 1999. In addition these acts happened as early as 1994. I believe the act of 2002 was the one that’s being described in the media.

      This is such a tragedy to these boys as well as all of the good decent people that went through this program and now have to live with this stain.

      I can also see leveling punishment to the current administration and all that knew about these incidents. JoPa is retiring in disgrace.

      When I read about this it made me sick to my stomach and my heart goes out to those boys who are now in their 20’s.

      • FireGuyFrank

        Mark, I understand where you’re coming from — why punish the football players. The problem is that the football program brings in a lot of money to PSU. Therefore, it makes sense to punish harshly to make the point. Grant the players the ability to play elsewhere.

        While Sandusky wasn’t employed by PSU at the time, he had use of the facilities and ran his boys’ camp there. If PSU accepts the rent payments, then they are certainly on the hook.

        Question: Is it possible, just possible that Sandusky “retired” at the rather young age of 57 because he was TOLD to retire? I think that has to be chased to ground.

      • tsal

        Mark like Frank I understand what you are saying but have to agree with Frank. Typically if a football team has some sort of infraction they are penalized scholarships. I understand this was not anything to do with actual football but football as Frank says is the bread and butter here. The school in general and many more specifically need to be held accountable. If monies are cut, you know as well as I that it will be other programs that suffer since football is at the top of the food chain.

        Kids who were going to go there will not. As Frank said, players must be allowed to go to other schools. An incredibly strong example has to be set.

  • jaygee

    The leaders at Penn. State took very little time to act on all of the information and this is how it should be but all I can think of is Former Cardinal Law sitting in Rome, a recent celebrant at his 80th birthday bash and enjoying a comfortable life within the walls of the Vatican.
    This story is no different and yet we all know that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has protected thousands of abusers and continue to do so. Their principal concern has always been for the priests while they truly believed that “God would take care of the kids”. Didn’t happen, did it?

  • NikW

    He is one of many that needs to be ousted!

  • dan

    cardinal law…WHAT A JOKE THAT WAS

  • George

    I disagree that Paterno needs to be fired. Paterno is one of the greatest college football coaches of all timne and to fire him is a disgrace. He referred the matter to his superiors. He is old school and figureed his job was coaching not politics or babysitting his coaches. The fact the the sex offender was not fired is Penn State’s fault and not Paterno’s. Too bad we are scapegoating Paterno for the immoral behavior of others……but this world has gone nuts anyway… the old days a wierdo like that would have been taken care of, from the get go, and never allowed to do anything like that again. What can I say, it’s so unfortunate a wierdo can destroy a legend just because the legend didn’t personally fire the wierdo. Looks like Penn Stae is not “STATE PENN”…….LOL

    • Tsal

      In the “old days” it was scout leaders and they were not taken care of before ruining the lives of young boys. Anyone and I repeat anyone who knew what was happening is next in line for guilt it makes me sad that anyone would condone the actions of a person knowing young boys were being violated and not do everything he could to stop it. Babysitting coaches. Is that what you think acting on the knowledge that children are being sexually molested is? He knowingly turned his back on those children because a game – a game – was more important to him than they were

  • massman

    George – Nobody is scapegoating. Paterno, along with other Penn State faculty, knew about the rape of a young boy that occurred on campus, and did not report it to the authorities. Let me repeat. A young boy was allegedly raped. It was covered up. Paterno was involved. In my opinion, jail time would not be inappropriate for any of them.

    • George

      Let me say at the outset that what Sandusky allegedly did was reprehensible and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

      The information I am looking at says a 2011 grand jury investigation reported that Mike McQueary, then a graduate assistant, told Paterno in 2002 that he had seen Sandusky performing a sex act on a 10-year-old boy in Penn State football’s shower facilities. Paterno then reported the allegations to Penn State athletic director Tim Curley. In November 2011, Sandusky was arrested on 40 counts of molesting eight young boys over a 15-year period. In addition, Curley and university Senior Vice President Gary Schultz resigned after being charged with failing to report the incident to police and lying to a grand jury regarding what they knew about the incident. Paterno and University President Graham Spanier were not charged.

      So, if they weren’t charged my question is why have we hung Paterno in the press which resulted in his being “thrown under the bus” and fired? I think a living legend deserves the benefit of the doubt here. The man devoted his live to Penn State, which is now being viewed as State Penn.

      The real disgrace to me is how the media can hang someone in the press when the facts are that Paterno was not charged with anything by legal authorities investigating the matter.

      • massman

        Stop defending this man. There is no excuse.

  • andyme

    It’s ethics people, lack of ethics in all walks of life. How about the Massachusetts State Police and local police letting Law walk or crawl back to Rome?

    • blackbear1

      Mass State Police?? Local Police?? You are a little reckless with your accusations.

    • tsal1

      you’re kidding right?

  • Julie the Jarhead

    This is what I love about political pundits such as the author.

    Their grasp of the obvious is astonishing.

    (For those playing at home, that was sarcasm.)

  • tsal1

    McQueary has been put on indefinite administrative leave

  • BostonIrish

    The entire staff and program should be terminated. The students who attend Penn State for the football program should be given their tuition money back in full. Penn State looked the other way and they should be put on suspension from college ball for a couple of years as punishment.

  • George

    To repeat what I said above, what Sandusky allegedly did was reprehensible and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    Massman you, and many in the media espousing this trash talk, have a problem with the facts. So stop telling me there is no excuse. Paterno was not charged with anything. I’m sure if they could have charged him they would have as DA’s love “high profile” cases where they can get visibility for their political futures. I wasn’t born yesterday.

    Just go along with inuendo stoked by a half crazed media looking for radio and blog ratings that invent whatever wild conspiracy theory they think will stir up people like you. Forget about the facts, tell yourself there is no excuse, that what you have invented in your mind is real and destroy the man. Then wrap yourself up in the high morality of defending the helpless.

    Sandusky will get his for what he did, if found guilty, but it is just so unfair to take down Paterno the way that it all happened. I am so disgusted with the lynch mob mentality that I saw this week. I totally agree with Franco Harris:

    Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and Penn State alum Franco Harris blasted the school’s Board of Trustees for its decision to fire Joe Paterno.

    “I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go,” Harris told the Tribune-Review’s Kevin Gorman. “I’m very disappointed in their decision. I thought they showed no courage, not to back someone who really needed it at the time.”

    • Tsal

      George. Paterno was the only person in a position to stop the abuse without having the institution vilify him. The institution will always come first in our twisted society. As top of the food chain Paterno was the one that Penn would not consider dispensable. He knew. He didn’t do any thing. Stop justifying that. It’s revolting

      • George

        Tsal, you talk as if you know what happened. The Grand Jury conducted a thorough interview and did not, I repeat “DID NOT CHARGE PATERNO”. Stop inventing facts. It’s revolting to hear your opinions without any facts If you have facts in writing from a credible news story then post the link please.

      • Tsal

        I’m not even going to correct the iPad auto corrections. Figure it out however I doubt you can because you don’t want to hear it

      • Tsal

        The fact is paterno knew. You said those exact words. And when he reported it and nothing was done he let it go. He let go the fact that chi,dren were being raped. George I always fry to value another’s opinion. This is the first time I cannot. The MA confined with his life in his perfect little world while children were being raped and you are justifying that.

      • George

        Tsal, I can see that we agree except for what Paterno should have done after he told his boss.

        Paterno has stated that Sandusky was no longer a coach at Penn State, at the time of thisincident, so he could not fire him and he had to refer it to Tim Curry, the athletic director and Paterno’s boss.

        According to the law Paterno did the right thing. What you are saying is that he should have gone beyond the legal law and taken the moral law into his own hands. We are clearly in a grey area here that surely needs further definement and clarification of what is and isn’t proper protocol in matters like these.

        Until we have that it is only fair that we not condemn Paterno for not acting in the way some would have hoped for or liked to have seen in his actions. If the law needs changing then perhaps people that agree with you can help to make changes in the law so that issues like this can potentially be reduced in the future.

      • Tsal

        George if you knew children were being abused and no one was doing something about it, can I assume younwould just keep quiet and let it happen. We are not talking about law. We are talking about what is morally right. I will take the words of massman and ask you to stop defending a person who put himself and hisninstitution above children. The more you say the more it seems younare doing the same. I can’t continuenthis conversation because I won’t be part of something that is so morally wrong that it ismwithout defense.

      • George

        As I said repeatedly before, you can’t ASSUME another person has the same views and morals as you. You must “DEFINE” the law and the rules. To criticize Paterno when you don’t have all the fact is foolish, judgemental and opinionated.

      • tsal1

        And in your opinion to knowingly allow children to be molested is acceptable. Good night, George.

  • Tsal


    • Tsal

      That was supposed to be a reply to BI.

  • andyme

    blackbear1, whom do you think should have taken legal/police action on Cardinal Law? no one? What do you recommend should have been done? Paterno swept it under the rug, hoping it would go away, guess what, it didn’t.

    • Tsal

      andyme what could law have been arrested for any more than Paterno. At the moment I do not believe there is a law on the booms that could justify arrest. Sad but true. I’d lime to think I am wrong but suspect I am not

      • Tsal

        That’s books and like. iPad has a mind of it’s own and it’s late so I let it do what it wants

  • Tammy

    It sickens me how people choose to defend Joe Paterno solely because he is not being prosecuted for his inactions. He still had a MORAL responsibility to do something if he had information that Penn State facilities were being used, by someone he knew, to sexually assault children. Just to put things into perspective….When they were threatening to impeach Bill Clinton for his extra-marital affair with Monica Lewenski, it wasn’t because the affair was illegal, it was morally wrong…And someone in his position was held to a higher standard.

    I hear there is a statue of Joe Paterno on Penn States campus and it describes him as a humanitarian. What kind of humanitarian knows that children are being raped at the hands of an associate and turns a blind eye. I’ll even give him the benefit of he doubt. Maybe he thought that the president and the athletic director were going to handle the situation, but as a member of the board of the Second Mile, he was aware that his man was using the program to sexually assault children and still did nothing. He didn’t even make an anonymous call to report his concerns. It was more important to him to keep his head down and look the other way. As a result several more children were victimized. It’s disgusting. I feel that Mike McCreary should be held just as responsible. He actually witnessed the assault and did nothing. It seems like the common theme is that everyone passed the responsibility on to the next person, so noone did anything.

    What if that were your kid? Your nephew? Your grandson? What do you think would be considered appropriate action if that was your son that was raped and he knew and did nothing. Some of you people need to get a clue. Those kids SHOULD BE more important than any stupid game, but it just shows where our values lie as a society…

    • tsal

      Nicely said Tammy. It made me sick to see the Penn State game on TV today and it revolted me to see a banner that said We Love Joe. Where was the banner that said we love the children. The entire school represents a twisted view that far too much of society seems to hold acceptable.

  • andymee

    Tammy, you are right on!!!!!!!

  • Read The Grand Jury Presentment Against Sandusky « CBS Boston

    […] Keller @ Large: Paterno Made The Wrong Choice […]

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