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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kirk Herbstreit still defending Joe Paterno’s legacy

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit spoke about Joe Paterno’s legacy on Thursday and showed little understanding about the significance of the Freeh commission’s findings.

Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback, was one of the few people who used his platform on ESPN to defend Joe Paterno the day the late coach was exposed for covering up years of Jerry Sandusky’s pedophilia.

“Obviously I think a lot of us in the college football world are stunned by the details of the report,” Herbstreit said. “I think it’s very easy to sit here today and look at all the things that Joe Paterno did not do, and clearly that’s going to have a major, major impact on his legacy.

“At the same time, there are so many former Penn State players that I’ve met over the last 15 or 20 years. If there’s one school that I’m always impressed with their alumni and always impressed with the guys who played football for Joe Paterno, of all the universities out there, the one school that I would say that seems to be a step above everybody else, it’s the Penn State players. And Joe Paterno had a lot to do with how those guys went through that program and how they turned out to be. I think to completely turn away from that is doing his legacy an injustice.”

Famed college football announcer Brent Musburger was too disgusted by the report’s findings to discuss Paterno’s legacy. Mark May, another ESPN college football analyst, termed Paterno as “morally culpable” as Jerry Sandusky. Herbstreit sung a different tune.

“This is going to have a long-term effect. People are talking about bringing down the statue, Nike’s already stepped up and they’re going to take his name off of what they’ve done out there, so it’s going to have a big impact. But at the same time,” Herbstreit said, “I’m also going to choose to remember some of the good that he did, and the lives that he touched of young men that went through his program.”

Herbstreit was then asked how the findings would impact Penn State’s football program moving forward. I guess they missed the big message that Penn State’s problem was prioritizing football over everything else.

As for a response to Herbstreit, Paterno may have positively impacted many lives, but how much is that worth when compared to the lives of innocent children he severely damaged because he wanted to protect his football program? Not much to me. For an extremely well written piece on Paterno’s damaged legacy, read this brilliant column by Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel.



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