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.
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.”