Originally written on Rumors and Rants  |  Last updated 11/16/14

Former Penn State football players and coaches have sent a letter of intent to appeal the penalties levied against Penn State’s football program in the wake of the Sandusky scandal and the Freeh Report. The letter alleges that the penalties have caused specific damages to the former players and coaches, that the university agreed to the NCAA penalties without consulting them, and that since no actual NCAA investigation ever took place, the penalties are too harsh in nature anyway.

Former PSU linebacker Brandon Short, who is not directly involved with the appeal, also sent a letter to alumni and former players that said “The appeal to the NCAA that this group of Letterman are filing is a tangible example of how the Penn State Letterman can act to effect positive change. These letterman are acting on behalf of all of us who played, all who are playing and all who will play at Penn State. While this initiative is currently being lead by players from 1998-2011 they represent ALL of us.”

It feels intuitively wrong when anyone associated with Penn State tries to defend themselves or the university. This was true when the Paterno family was already in damage control mode before the Freeh Report was even released, and it felt especially true when the NCAA tried to show off how tough it is by getting in some hard punches on a fighter who was already down, then bragging about how tough they are. Even then, despite the circus surrounding the NCAA’s announcement, no one really wanted to hear from anyone associated with Penn State complaining about the penalties even though many probably would have agreed with them.

Also, there’s no way the former players and coaches win this. Besides the fact that the university agreed with the punishments (meaning the NCAA never actually forced them upon the university), the focus of the complaint seems to be the vacated wins between 1998 and 2011. This was the time period in which Sandusky’s sexual assaults were happening on campus despite the fact that he retired in 1999 and the coverup (a.k.a. the most damning part of the Freeh Report) was going on as well.

It’s going to be near-impossible to prove that the wins being wiped off the books caused any tangible harm to the former players. Eliminating wins from official records is a purely symbolic gesture meant to cause the university being punished to get rid of things that would have otherwise been points of pride for the program i.e. trophies. Also, it’s meant to act like, for example, ineligible players never played for teams or to punish head coaches who create their reputations (and cults of personality) around winning football games.

However, it’s still a purely symbolic gesture. Everyone knows those players played in those games, and Joe Paterno was the head coach for every one of those wins. Also, none of those players is being paid for whatever their current occupation is based on the wins achieved during their college years.

They could potentially be arguing that damage was done to their reputations and they are suffering harm because of that, but it’s pretty easy to argue that the damage was done well before the NCAA penalized Penn State, what with the repeated sexual assaults and full-blown coverup by the football program and the school’s administration. People tend to form opinions based on that kind of thing.

Also, whatever Brandon Short meant by “positive change” in his letter (quoted above) is probably not in the first 25 things the rest of us thought it meant. He’s dead wrong for even trying to do anything about the situation anyway because…wait for it…NO ONE CARES ABOUT PENN STATE.

I don’t know if these former players and coaches set out to prove that people give WAY too much of a s**t about Penn State football inside the university (and probably in the state of Pennsylvania too). But some one should remind them that worrying about wins that happened up to 14 years ago is incredibly petty and ridiculous.

These players may feel like they don’t count in this situation, that they don’t have a voice. They’d be right to feel like that, but their voices don’t need to be heard when it comes to dealing with the fallout from Jerry Sandusky’s crimes and the university’s coverup. That’s why nobody asked them and why this is the most frivolous aspect of the entire disaster.

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