Sue Paterno, wife to the late Joe Paterno, released a letter on Friday, which brings to our attention her thoughts on the scandal that rocked Penn State over a year ago. The entirety of the letter can be read here, but follow along as we take this apart and try to make sense of it all.
First, Sue Paterno dismisses the Louis Freeh report’s claims that paint her late husband in a negative light, noting his “rigidly moral” character:
When the Freeh report was released last July, I was as shocked as anyone by the findings and by Mr. Freeh’s extraordinary attack on Joe’s character and integrity. I did not recognize the man Mr. Freeh described. I am here to tell you as definitively and forcefully as I know how that Mr. Freeh could not have been more wrong in his assessment of Joe. I knew Joe Paterno as well as one human being can know another. Joe was exactly the moral, disciplined and demanding man you knew him to be. Over the years I watched as he struggled with countless personal and professional challenges. Never – not once – did I see him compromise his principles or twist the truth to avoid bad publicity or protect his reputation. Joe was tough, sometimes difficult, always opinionated and extremely demanding. He was also scrupulously honest, rigidly moral and absolutely unafraid of the consequences of doing the right thing.
In essence, Sue Paterno denies that Paterno ever knew anything about the Jerry Sandusky scandal and would never save face by covering up for someone as disgusting as Sandusky. Of course, you expect this from a family member whose husband was accused of befriending a child molester.
Sue Paterno then goes on to announce the release of the report she conducted via her lawyer, which will be made public on Sunday morning:
Although it was not something I ever imagined doing, I directed my lawyer, Wick Sollers, of the King & Spalding firm in Washington DC, to undertake a review of the Freeh report and Joe’s actions. I told him to engage the best, most respected experts, to take whatever time he needed and to go wherever the facts led. Sunday morning at 9am we are releasing the full Report by Wick and his team of experts. The report and additional information will be available at Paterno.com.
So Sue Paterno employed her own lawyer to counter reports that harshly damaged Joe Paterno’s reputation. Given that this letter was written, it’s almost certain that the report will pick and choose facts which paint the late Penn State head coach in the least negative light possible.
And, as you’d expect, that’s exactly what’s in the letter:
I will not attempt in this letter to summarize the Report of the experts except to say that they unreservedly and forcefully confirm my beliefs about Joe’s conduct. In addition, they present a passionate and persuasive critique of the Freeh report as a total disservice to the victims of Sandusky and the cause of preventing child sex offenses. I hope you can take the time to review the report and share it with friends and family.
Here’s Sue Paterno, basically saying that the report wipes her husband’s hands clean of any wrong-doing. The report, she argues, will place blame everywhere else except Joe Paterno.
Sue Paterno closes the letter by answering the many observers’ questions: Why won’t the Paterno family shut up? What is it that the family is trying to accomplish by doing this?
In essence, it’s all about reputation, as it has been from the very beginning. She notes that the restoration of wins, and the resurrection of his statue, are not goals, but to put it simply — and I’m paraphrasing — she wants her husband’s legacy to remain, even if it’s been wiped off the record books.
Nothing good can come of this. At best, the family and die-hard Paterno supporters will rally around this report — which, without a doubt in your mind, will cherry-pick facts left and right — and claim to be at peace, knowing Paterno acted correctly at every step of the way.
But observers detached from the situation, without much connection here, will brush off the report and understand that this is just needless damage control.
If the Paterno family wants this thing to go away, they’d be better off not trying to hoard media attention by releasing reports which will be dripping with bias.