Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Paterno' Reads as a Defense of Embattled Former Coach; BIOGRAPHY - BOOKS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Paterno' Reads as a Defense of Embattled Former Coach; BIOGRAPHY - BOOKS

Article excerpt

"This book is not a defense of Paterno," writes Joe Posnanski in the introduction to his controversial biography.

But it is, and relentlessly.

As a biography, "Paterno" is spotty. Much of the story is familiar from magazine articles, TV documentaries and previous books. About two-thirds of the way through "Paterno," the Jerry Sandusky scandal enters Paterno's story and then becomes the story.

It's not enough to say that Posnanski does not do well relating the facts of the Sandusky case and Paterno's role in it. The truth is that he doesn't really try.

"Joe Paterno was fired," he tells us at the end. "Why and how the board [Penn State trustees] made its decision is not my story to tell."

If not Paterno's biographer's, one wonders, then whose story is it? And what is so complicated about that story?

The answer to "how": The board made its decision quickly and nearly unanimously.

The answer to "why": Paterno, as he told a grand jury and as revealed through numerous emails, had reason to suspect Sandusky's monstrous crimes against children and did little to stop him.

In addition, Posnanski writes as if it were his intention to make clear issues cloudy. One example: In the months after Paterno died, "some evidence surfaced that he may have been told something about the 1998 incident" - the first time rumors of Sandusky's depravities surfaced - "though what he was told remained unclear."

Surely, however, Paterno was told enough to make him understand that the allegations should be investigated by the proper authorities.

In February 2001, assistant coach Mike McQueary went to Paterno's home and told him that he saw Sandusky and a young boy in the football team's showers.

Paterno concluded that what McQueary told him "was of a sexual nature," Posnanski writes.

Then what else, one wants to ask, did Paterno need to know about whether the authorities needed to be called in? Paterno did notify athletic director Tim Curley.

But police were not told, and Sandusky was not arrested until November 2011. …

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