Hearne: The Sad, In Denial, Whacky World of Some Sports Media

So many dumb-dumbs, so little time…

It’s crazy out here, 104 degree heat, movie rampages, otherwise reasonable people saying completely unreasonable things.

Let’s start with Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel who said the following last week about disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno‘s role in the Jerry Sandusky child abuse coverup:

“You can’t take away the greatness of this man. He was a great man. And however you analyze this, you can’t erase all that this guy has done. You can’t do that. Nobody can do that.”


“I’m sure he (Paterno)  would maybe, if he did it over again, he’d follow up (on) a few things. But don’t take away all this guy did and sit around blaming him for all this.”


It’d be one thing if Pinkel was the only person on earth callous or dumb enough to make such an insensitive public statement at the exact wrong time. And Pinkel’s been in the public eye long enough to know better, so one has to assume his core values are either lacking or he’s not too bright.

To publicly utter something like that at a time when a jury of nearly the entire free world has fingered Paterno as being a scumbag is unthinkable.

It gets worse.

Next Penn State takes down Paterno’s statue, the NCCA annihilates the school’s football program and just when a return of moral values to big time college athletics rears its head for the first time in a generation or more, up pops the devil.

Enter Mo. state rep Sara Lampe who rightly criticized Pinkel for his statement.

So what happens to Lampe?

She gets hammered by a pair of small time media jock sniffers, starting with Kevin Slaten, a sports talk host in St. Louis who’s quoted in the Star as saying, “There was nothing in (investigator Louis) Freeh‘s report that suggested Paterno enabled child molestation.”


That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long time. A candidate for second dumbest was Lampe agreeing to go on Slaten’s show in the first place or not walking out when it became evident she had become the victim of a hit job by a pinhead. But in fairness, not everyone can think that fast when they get cornered on live radio.

Pinkel and Slaten weren’t the only ones sticking up for Paterno and sticking it to Lampe

“Missouri Politician Tries to Make Name for Herself over Gary Pinkel Comments,” reads the headline atop a column by bleacherreport.com‘s Dan Irwin.

“Little-known Democratic lieutenant governor candidate in the state of Missouri, Sara Lampe, is throwing her opinion about Gary Pinkel’s comments at SEC Media Days into the public forum,” Irwin begins. “The current Springfield, Mo. lawmaker—who runs on a heavy platform of education and child safety—tried to link Pinkel’s comments as being insensitive toward children of sexual abuse…Gary Pinkel made comments at the SEC Media Days in which he neither defended sex crimes nor a cover-up, but instead offered genuine words of a former colleague.”

Are Irwin, Slaten and Pinkel the last people on earth who don’t get it?

One can only hope. Because quite clearly, the Freeh Report indicted Paterno for that very thing. Amazing.

Even more amazing is that more politicians, sportswriters and people in a position to speak out didn’t echo Lampe’s comments condemning Pinkel for his blatantly insensitive remarks.

So one step forward and two steps backward for college sports.

But kudos to the Kansas City Star‘s sportswriters for getting it right.

“For now and the foreseeable future, everything associated with Paterno will simultaneously be associated with evil, and anyone caught nearby will be like someone standing in a field during a lightning storm…” the Star‘s Kent Babb writes. “Paterno’s defining moment wasn’t beating Ohio State or Michigan or winning either of his two national championships. It came on the day or days he heard about his defensive coordinator’s crimes. When he should have forced his friend to get help and then involved the police to stand in the way of sexually abusing children, he chose to turn away and focus on football. Great men do not make that mistake. A man who does is unworthy of our adoration or respect.”

Star sports columnist Sam Mellinger nailed it as well.

“Sports make us crazy,” Mellinger wrote. “They make us unreasonable. They make us overlook fundamental flaws and they make us cheer bad people. They motivate us to excuse the inexcusable — as long as it’s in the right uniform…Paterno’s name and (his) statue don’t stand for goodness, for the things accomplished on the football field. It did for decades. Now it is a symbol of something much different, of leadership traded for selfishness, of a reputation that’s dead and should be wrapped and hauled away.”

That said, it’s still very much clear that the almighty buck and the fan fervor of sports junkies is an all powerful force. A force that can not only turn the other cheek, but turn a blind eye. As did Pinkel, Slaten and Irwin.

On a more quizzical note, Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel found an even odder rationale for leaving Paterno’s statue in place.

Because the coverup of Sandusky’s crimes were “so sick and vile” Seidel said Paterno’s statue should remain up.

“I want people to cringe when they walk past that statue,” Seidel writes. “I want it to to serve as a reminder of how out of whack sports can become in our culture, how coaches can become more powerful than the institution itself, and how unchecked power can cover up the most evil situation imaginable.”

Uptown Theater main man Larry Sells may have said it best recently in reference to football and his alma mater:

“Maybe sometime they’ll want to think of themselves as a university instead of a football stadium with a college attached.”




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8 Responses to Hearne: The Sad, In Denial, Whacky World of Some Sports Media

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    How about the president of the NCAA saying this was the end of football being more important than education. This lady has put it best.


    And any Syracuse grads had best keep quiet on this one.

    HC: Good one. I like the writer’s retort to football never again being placed ahead of education:

    “Please. Of course it will, every other day of the year.”

  2. the dude says:

    I say they should have kept the staues up and created a permanent information kiosk on the site that also told the story of the cover up and the inaction of a football coach to teach lessons to people. By tearing down the statues (under cover no less) it basically erases from history the fact that Paterono was there and what was allowed to take place all in the name of money and power. The board of curators had an opportunity to do something right and screwed the pooch yet again.

    Nuke the program.

  3. chuck says:

    Dead on the money Hearne.

    Dead on the money.

  4. Super Dave says:

    People of power or fame always have those who think they were or are great.

    Just shows how low people will go to accept things.

  5. balbonis moleskine says:

    I’m with Pinkel. He has enough capital built up in Columbia to say what he wants.

    And you know what? He’s right. People are not black and white. Paterno was a fatherly figure for many young men and helped out many of them throughout their careers. In a world where you have to be a ripe bastard to be a D-I football coach (and I know from experience as a player), he appeared to be one of the better ones. His persona was obviously inflated but it is undeniable that he played fairer, cheated less and treated his players better than coaches at comparable ‘football factories’.

    You can lose your job, be smeared by the media (be it gossip sites or CNN) but it doesn’t change that no matter who you are you probably helped people out along the way. And no amount of feminist hand wringing that is thinly disguised football-hate is going to change that.

    Hell there are murderers who have helped change people’s lives for the better, either before or after their crimes were committed. Even if Paterno was guilty of covering up, he still was likely a man that helped a lot of people better themselves.

    In the end, JoePa failed to call the police immediately when faced with an allegation by a low-level assistant coach against a long time coordinator. The matter had been investigated in 1998 and no action had been taken.

    When you are part of a company or organization and you hear of shenanigans, whether they be shower shenanigans or bookkeeping shenanigans—you tell your boss. And if your boss does nothing then smart people get the message—don’t pursue the matter further. He told his boss and the chief of police and nothing came of it.

    Remember, a dead man can’t defend himself from allegations. He can’t be interviewed for the report. When a report costing 6 million dollars is commissioned by the new President and Trustees, you know the three people it will be sure to blame is the dead man (Paterno), the fired man (PSU ex President) and the guilty man (Sandusky). The ones who pay for such reports to be written always seem to come out smelling real good.

    Funny, that.

  6. Rick Nichols says:

    It’s unfortunate that in the case of JoPa and the members of his inner circle, statues and all they represent were ultimately far more important than the statutes. I think they should’ve left the statue in place but put a big black asterik next to it, in typical American style, using that as an opportunity to tell in detail the whole sad story by way of a kiosk like an earlier commenter suggested.

    At a little bar by the alley,
    Blue alums file through the door;
    Tonight they drink in Happy Valley –
    The Nittany Lion’s lost his roar.

  7. PB says:

    “People are not black and white.” – balbonis

    While I agree with this, Pinkel’s comments were ill-conceived, ill-timed and should have been met with some derision. Slaten is worse for defending Pinkel as nobody forced him into reciting a testimonial for Paterno. Maybe Coach Pinkel was just overly defensive after his own recent public misstep. Either he just doesn’t get it as Hearne suggested or maybe he had a couple of Jumbos on his way to that press conference.

  8. the dude says:

    Liquid courage tends to give false bravado.

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