Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/5/12

In January 2012, the beloved Coach Joe Paterno passed away after fighting many illnesses for many years.  Now his legacy has been tainted after allegations that Coach Paterno helped or aided in the conspiracy and cover up of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. 

After a two year grand jury investigation, Coach Sandusky was charged and arrested on 52 counts of sexual abuse of a minor; investigators said the abuse took place over a 15 year period.  On June 22, 2012, Sandusky was found guilty of 45 of the charges.

At his age, Sandusky will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison and now the NCAA has added salt to the wounds, which take a lifetime to heal, by punishing the school and the late Coach Paterno by and for the actions of one man.

Is it really the fault of the boys who play football at Penn State that Jerry Sandusky abused and molested children?  The hundreds of people who worked throughout the years to make one of the greatest college football clubs in history are now being tried and convicted in the eyes of the public and media.

Stripped of all titles for the last 12 years, no participation in bowl games or post season games for 4 years and fines that range from over 60 million dollars in monetary values to loss of scholarships for incoming football players; Gene Marsh, a former NCAA sanctions council member, now renowned attorney for coaches and schools said he had nightmares of the empty stadium and questioned whether or not Donald Remy, general counsel for the NCAA, was acting too harsh on what Remy himself called a “death penalty of sanctions”.   

Back to my original thought, there are hundreds of players and future players being punished for actions they had absolutely nothing to do with!  Coach Paterno was not named in any indictments, only rumors and whispers that he may have heard or overheard accusations that Coach Sandusky, once retired, had acted inappropriately with young boys of the 2nd Mile Program founded and ran by Sandusky.

Please don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Jerry Sandusky is guilty, was found guilty and hopes he serves the harshest punishment possible for his crimes against children but where are Coach Paterno’s indictments?  Where are the indictments for the 2nd string offensive linemen?  There are none because these boys and men have not been charged or found guilty of anything having to do with this horrible tragedy, yet they are being punished for the crime that to date only one man is guilty of. 

I don’t religiously watch Penn State football but for some reason had a soft spot in my heart for Coach Paterno and miss the long coat and side tilted hat that he was conformed to wear even after other coaches switched to t-shirts and wind pants.

Being a “girl” I may get away with this a little bit more than some sports writers and bloggers but crying while watching Brett Favre play his last game, Jorge Posada walk off the field for the last time and many other applauded sports figures take their exit; I didn’t hold back when Joe Paterno made his exit and tried to hold my breath for as long as I could as I watched men carefully wrap the bronze statue of Coach Paterno with players in tow in moving blankets to be put on a forklift and taken away forever. 

Coach Paterno has been found guilty in absentia.  No one will ever know his involvement, if any, in the Sandusky scandal.  No one can take back the shadow cast on his career that spanned lifetimes based only on rumors. 

The NCAA and Penn State can take away trophies, they can ban songs being sung at “the stadium that Joe built” and they can take away the hopes and dreams of young men throughout the country to play for one of the greatest football teams of all times but put the statue back.

In our country we are innocent until proven guilty and Coach Paterno has not even been charged with any misconduct.  Taking down the statue will heal nothing; it will not take away the pain that Jerry Sandusky caused.  To date the only thing that the NCAA and Penn State has done, is keep the victims in the headlines and front lines of the horrible tragedy that only one man caused, Jerry Sandusky. 

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