Today: Former Star Sports Scribe Posnanski Questionable Choice to Pen Paterno Bio

Get me rewrite…

To be fair, the jury’s out on how good a job Joe Posnanski will do in penning fallen Penn State coach Joe Paterno‘s biography…

That said, there’s little doubt on why the ebullient former Kansas City Star sports scribe was chosen for the task. Posnanski has carved a career in breathing fervor into even the most mundane sports achievements and personalities.

He’s a great writer, if a bit euphoric and hyperbolic at times – like most of the time. So it comes as little surprise that JoePa would feel comfortable and assured he’d receive kid glove treatment at the hands of JoePo.

And what writer wouldn’t leap at the chance to get their mitts on a reported $750,000 writing fee?

Unfortunately, an anticipated, run of the mill journalistic blowjob turned into an ugly, nasty tell-all courtesy of the Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse scandal.

And given Posnanski’s track record, Paterno’s firing and recent evidence that JoePa well may have been at the epicenter of the wrongdoing, Posnanski now looks like the last guy you’d want driving the bio bus under the cicumstances.

"The late Joe Paterno may have played a much bigger role than he had claimed in persuading Penn State officials not to report Jerry Sandusky to officals," says  MSNBC‘s Michael Smerconish.

"The takeaway is, as far as I’m concerned, is that Joe Paterno has no legacy left," says "Friday Night Lights" author Buzz Bissinger. "You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that (Penn State athletic director) Tim Curley (had) a three pronged plan, one of which (was) it was going to be reported to the department of welfare. He talks to Paterno and all of a sudden, the key element of that plan has dissappeared. And even Paterno himself in his very brief and frankly odd grand jury testimony, said he knows that something of a sexual nature occurred. They know that Sandusky at the very least was in the shower with a 10 year-old boy. They don’t care about the victim. It’s all about spin. It’s all about treating Jerry humanely."

Bissinger’s bottom line:

"I think it just cements Paterno not only as someone who was cowardly and did not do what he should have at the beginning but also a liar…At this point, anyone who believes that Joe Paterno did not know about the 1998 incident is a fool. He did know."

As for Paterno’s family defending the former coach as not being "an email guy" or in the loop about Sandusky, "So he didn’t use email, I mean, I think he still had the ability to talk," Bissinger says. "He must have told Curley something to get Curley to change his mind and say, ‘Let’s not report to welfare authorities.’ I’m not convinced and I’m just connecting the dots. And every dot has been connected."

So what started out as a puff piece – with Posnanski in the driver’s seat at the dinner table with Paterno and his family – has now become a hard news expose.

Because who at this point  wants to read about what a nice guy and great coach Paterno was?

So back to you, Joe. It won’t be easy, but let’s see if you can punch your way out of this feather light, journalistic paper bag.

Your public awaits.

He’s got time. Posnanski’s book was delayed from a June release to August 28th. And he’s not above pimping potential buyers, as evidenced by this June 30 Tweet:

"Will not comment re: Paterno because I don’t think it’s my place now. But I will say that all of this and more is in the book."

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10 Responses to Today: Former Star Sports Scribe Posnanski Questionable Choice to Pen Paterno Bio

  1. Big Bob says:

    On one hand this is a story Hall covered about six weeks ago. On the other hand I enjoyed this as you brought some fresh spin to it with the Buzz stuff. I saw him a few weeks back on TV pushing a book about his son and talking about his own faults and failures. Very interesting guy. Overall I came in with negative thoughts but good piece.

  2. Kerouac says:

    A dead-heat slugfest
    In this corner – President George H. W. Bush, who called Paterno “an outstanding American who was respected not only on the field of play but in life generally & he was without a doubt a true icon in the world of sports” – AND – at a less six-months deadweight of ??? lbs., Joe-Pa.

    And in the other corner – Michael Smerconish / MSNBC… (latter the Pinocchio of reportage) – AND – stone-caster Buzz Bissinger… the man without sin. (By the way, who is this “fool” casting self-appointed judge, jury & executioner Bissinger? Could he be guilty of being wrong, or maybe the proprietor of pen-envy, Posnanski? Or is the latter the abode the KCC author?)

    Paterno ‘may’ (to borrow from MSNBC inference) have understood ‘conscience’ in the same way Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens did & might? be as such innocent, or guilty only in a court public opinion, if that. It will probably be an long time (till hell freezes over) before JoePa – like Obama / his AJ – comply with the truth.

    So, once Paterno’s trial begins- oh wait…

  3. smartman says:

    All Of This And More Is In The Book
    BULLSHIT! You notice how JoPo looks like Steve Glorioso with slightly better teeth? JoPa might as well be in a race with Casey Anthony….who looks a lot like Tim Finns gal-pal….for whose book is not gonna sell. There is a great JoPa story to be told unfortunately JoPo ain’t the guy to tell it. It’s no longer about white picket fences with rainbows and unicorns. It’s about sex, lies and videotape. This is a gig for Joe Eszterhas.

  4. chuck says:


  5. Hearne says:

    Somebody wrote about this six weeks ago?
    The Paterno email scandal just broke this past weekend, as did Joe’s Tweet.

    I also wrote about Joe doing the book, a lot longer than six weeks ago. As did any number of writers. However, a lot has happened and probably there will be more to come. And more to write about.

    Clearly the publishing company and Posnanski are doing a tap dance while waiting for as many shoes to drop as possible before they unleash this potentially dead-on-arrival tribute book.

    Hope Joe got his money up front and his deal in writing.

    Honestly, Joe can write. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but he’s a smart guy and maybe, just maybe, he’ll grow a giant you-know-what and knock everybody’s socks off. That could be huge. Especially if Joe rope-a-dopes the family with his nice guy, you-can-trust-me persona and then delivers the hard-edged goods.

    He’s the one guy in a position to do it.

    Is it in Posnanski’s makeup? All evidence points to the contrary, but he could rise to the occasion.

    That said, how do you turn a blow job into a hatchet job? Or walk the book down the middle and somehow go both ways?

    It could be done. Maybe.

    But who wants to read about what a saint Paterno was, how he won all those games, gave away all that money and was such a great guy. Not when he’s on the brink of being a villain second only to Sandusky?

    It now becomes clearer why Penn State axed him so quickly and in retrospect, lucky for JoePa he checked out when he did.

    Because what are the odds that the athletic director and others will totally throw Paterno under the bus to save themselves and lay the blame directly at Paterno’s feet. The emails point to that and they clearly were not scripted after the fact.

    And the family’s bs about Joe not doing email was about as lame as you can get.

    So Joe signs on for a greatest hits book and finds himself mired in an expose.

    That’s a story unto itself and a lot more interesting than a collection of now meaningless anecdotes about Paterno’s football exploits. Probably a better book would be Joe just writing about what a fucked up deal he fell into. Except of course for the $$$

  6. the dude says:

    @smartman FTW,
    Polanski is in over his balding head on this one. I could only imagine the bowel shaking sharting of his pants when this all started to leak out in the news and how his once easy book deal payday began to disintegrate before his eyes.

    Probably felt much like the author of the soon to be released bio for Amarillo Slim when it came out he had inappropriate relations with his 12 year old grandaughter- ruh roh, payday not coming!

  7. smartman says:

    @the dude
    You are correct. Despite what Hearne thinks, hopes or imagines the story has spun out of JoPo’s wheelhouse. Not in his lifetime could he tell the story the way it needs to be told. This is a gig for Joe Eszterhas or Frank Deford, someone who can tell the tale without it turning into a complete JoPa ass whipping. Too bad Christopher Hitchen’s isn’t still with us. He took on Mother Theresa in The Missionary Position, skewered Henry Kissinger in another book, the title currently escapes me; so JoPa as power drunk blind enabler would be the perfect subject for him.

  8. PB says:

    I’m Sure Poz
    Can make it all work but only if he can somehow tie Buck O’Neal, his daughter’s favorite Disney movie and Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard into the story. If anybody can turn the Sandusky/Paterno scandal into a CW Guiswele-like sapfest, Joe Poz would certainly be the guy.

  9. Hearne says:

    I have few illusions about the type of writer Joe is…
    So I won’t predict that he’ll rise to the challenge and smack this baby out of the park. But how could I not hope that he would? We all should hope Joe comes thru because nobody else I know in the writing or reporting game had the kind of trust and access Joe did.

    Because who really cares at this point what it was like to win all those footballs games and make all that money?

    Who ever did?

    Joe is in the position to really step up and write something that matters here. He’s also in the position to make a token stab at it, do a bit of tap dancing and move on to the next puff piece.

    Sure would be nice to see him take the road less traveled (by him).

  10. mike says:

    I would like to see him do neither ignore the pedophilia scandal or make it the sole topic of the book. Interview as many people as possible and do as much research as possible to cover this man’s long career. Show the good and bad. Paint a full picture. If he does that, it will be a good book in my opinion.

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