Hearne: Give Joe Posnanski the Benefit of the Doubt

Remember that childhood axiom about nice guys finishing last?

That’s how most sports media jock sniffers have been treating Joe Posnanski where his upcoming book about disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is concerned.

Guilty until proven innocent.

No way could silver-tongued, nice guy sportswriter Posnanski deliver an honest-to-gosh lowdown on what a lowlife Paterno turned out to be for allowing his assistant Jerry Sandusky to abuse young boys for 14 years after first learning of it. Not to mention playing a lead role in covering up for Sandusky and lying about it.

Nope, pretty much anyone and everyone has weighed in – present company included – that there’s no way Posnanski is going to drop the hammer on Paterno. The first reason being Posnanski’s too nice a guy. The second that he’s carved out an entire career choking out attaboys. The third and final strike being that early on Posnanski defended Paterno.

Well, guess what?

Lots of people gave Paterno the benefit of the doubt at first.

The $64 million question: Can Posnanski do a journalistic about face and convert a planned blowjob into a trip to the woodshed?

Clearly journalistic spankings and corporal punishment are not what Posnanski is known for. Not even close. Which is one reason people who know Posnanksi are selling him short.

However, I contend that Posnanski is no fool – nor is his publisher.

There’s virtually no way Posnanski’s been hiding out in some sort of bubble these past seven months oblivious to all that has come out – Sandusky’s conviction and the unseemly, sordid details, the Freeh Report, the NCAA sanctions against Penn State, the removal of Paterno’s statue from the campus and the many other indignities he’s posthumously suffered.

Nope, Posnanski’s undoubtedly devoured every detail – just like the rest of us – and evolved his opinion on Paterno. How could he not?

So why then continue to hold him to months old comments?

Which is exactly what’s been happening. Over and again Posnanski’s been forced to eat and re-eat months old words as if he’d just uttered them.

Heck, everybody who gives a flying eff about Penn State football and Paterno probably said a few nice things about Paterno early on. Before we all learned what we now have learned.

Just because Posnanski is wisely laying low as he takes on the unhappy and daunting task of morphing his fluff book into something halfway relevant doesn’t mean he’s guilty of being as dumb as Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel.  Pinkel, you may recall, foolishly defended Paterno to the media a few weeks back.

Nobody (else) could be that dumb, could they?

Yet on and on it goes, the beat up Joe Posnanski sports machine.

That latest coming from Newsweek magazine’s Tony Dokoupil.

“Will a New Biography Let Joe Paterno Off Easy?” the July 30th headline reads.

“’Everything has been just sort of this big, wonderful surprise.’ That’s how nice-guy sportswriter Joe Posnanski recently described his career,” Dokoupil begins. “But he may want to scratch the word ‘wonderful.’ Eighteen months ago he embarked on a sunny biography of one of America’s most loved characters, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. In a proposal sent to publishers, Posnanski outlined how he won over Paterno and his family, promising the story of “a remarkable life and the many people who have been touched by it.”

See what I mean? Dokoupil has no idea what Posnanski’s book has in store but he’s more than happy to paint Posnanski into a corner as being a fluff artist, incapable of doing the right thing and burning Paterno at the stake.

There’s more.

“Posnanski, a writer for a new USA Today/Major League Baseball venture, is beloved—and not for his sharp-elbowed profiles,” Dokoupil continues. “He criticized the ‘moralistic and judgmental’ tone his peers took with Tiger Woods, and has a gift for blowing dandelion seeds on his own subjects, no matter how sad. He grew up in Cleveland, rooting for losing teams, and spent 16 years in Kansas City, writing about losing teams. And still his first book celebrated ‘the magic of sports.’ ”

Why not just call Posnanski a pussy and leave it at that?

Dokoupil’s piece does give a slight indication – at the very end – that Posnanski might come through and do a bit of trampling on Paterno’s freshly dug media grave.

“A more independent source says the book does not protect Paterno from himself,” Dokoupil concludes. “He ‘comes off as a sanctimonious prick,’ this person says, ‘so the idea that this book is a sloppy, wet kiss is definitely not true.’ ”

So let’s not convict Joe Posnanski of stupidity and naivete just yet –  not without a fair trial.

This entry was posted in Hearne_Christopher. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Hearne: Give Joe Posnanski the Benefit of the Doubt

  1. smartman says:

    There is no fun in hindsight, hence all of the speculation about this tome. I think it’s DOA. Fair or not JoPo has a reputation, a well earned reputation, as a FLUFFER. To think that he can salvage his work is speculation as well. Let’s face it, in this situation he’s Ned Beatty not Burt Reynolds. I’ve NEVER like his style of writing. He’s blown more guys than Traci Lords. Other people love the guy. We’re all entitled to our opinions even when they might be wrong. If I were Joe I’d take the kill fee for the book and live to fight another day. While there is always the possibility that this book could be a career maker the betting money says it’s a career breaker. Gotta know when to hold em, no when to fold em, know when to walk away, no when to run…which leads us to that 70’s classic hit….RUN JOEY RUN!

  2. the dude says:

    Pos just needs to give the advance money back on this book, hopefully he didn’t spend it already. Like I said before he is in way over his head on this one.

  3. rkcal says:

    The publisher’s ass is on the line as well; they know a puff-piece is DOA. They, as well as Joe are in a corner. Since apparently the book is being published, one of two things happened:
    1. JoPo manned up and turned in a credible manuscript that the publisher can sell as the “untold story”- the only thing that will get it off the shelf at this point, or:
    2. A ghost writer was brought in to do the job for him.
    If this is the ‘St. Joe of Happy Valley’ that’s expected, everyone involved is a total idiot. The publisher most of all.

  4. PB says:

    While others in and around the program may have “defended” Joe Pa initially, I think Mr. Sunshine went a bit more overboard than some others. I don’t see how there’s any coming back from this.

    From Jeff Pearlman:

    One of the things that really irks me, RE: Posnanski and Paterno, is that, late last year, after the initial Sandusky news hit, the author addressed a class at Penn State titled, “Joe Paterno: Communications and the Media.” As an employee of Sports Illustrated at the time, defending Paterno before a room of students was, to be polite, unprofessional (When I was coming up at SI, the editors would have considered firing a writer for such an action). According to a kid who Tweeted during the session, Posnanski uttered the following:

    ■“If this happened at the University of Miami, no matter how bad it was, it wouldn’t have elevated to this level.”
    ■“I think [Paterno] is a scapegoat. I definitely think that…I think he tried to do the right thing, and the right thing didn’t happen.”
    ■“The only thing people remember about Woody Hayes is that he hit a player. I don’t want that to happen to Joe. He didn’t hit a player.”
    ■“It’s already shameful. It’ll be ten times more shameful to think that they fired him with a personal messenger sent to his home.”
    ■(On reporters who have covered the story well) “There are not many.”
    ■“I’ve never seen anything handled worse. Maybe how New Orleans, post-Katrina….Paterno was always dangled by this university.”
    ■“A lot of people came here to bury Joe. As a writer, I’m mad with that, as someone who’s come to know the Paternos, I’m heartbroken.”
    ■“The rush to judgment here has been extraordinarily. The lesson to learn might be that we screwed this thing up.”

  5. Clay Shirky says:

    The reason to hold Posnanski responsible for his months-old comments is that _every single one of them_ was aimed at salving some bit of Paterno’s ‘winningest coach/life-changing mentor’ reputation. Long _long_ before the facts were in, Posnanski was trying out his ‘scapegoat/single hazy incident’ language, to see if he could minimize this and save his blowjob of a book.

    Those comments became considerably more damning when he acquiesced to moving the pub date up from spring 2013 (Happy Father’s Day!) to this summer, because doing so meant finishing the first draft before the Freeh report came out, presumably so he could deny knowing what was in it should the shit hit the fan (the same response as every other grownup at Penn State in this whole horrifying affair.)

    Posnanski was on a story and it changed. That gave him a choice — he could behave like a journalist, or he could behave like a prostitute. Nothing he has said or done since the cover-up of child rape came to light suggests he has any interest (or, frankly, any of the necessary outlook or skills) to cover this story like a journalist.

  6. admin says:

    Well, what Joe may have said late last year was long before the jury was in on both Sandusky and Paterno.

    Joe was far from alone back then.

    And since it’s doubtful he’s giving the money back, let’s see what he’s made of when the book comes out. That’s only fair.

    The only sure thing in all of this chaos is it won’t be easy, but the eyes of the world are upon him and Posnanski knows this. Let’s see what he’s got.

  7. balbonis moleskine says:

    Every news outlet wants to hang Paterno. The Penn State administrators paid 6 mil to have a report that put the majority of the blame on a fired AD and a dead man.

    I say you go against the grain and write the pro Joe Pa/anti PSU administration book. Perhaps a bit on how he was not quite as unfireable as believed (considering they tried to fire/retire Paterno in the late 90s and again in the mid 00s).

    History will remember Paterno in a better light than now. If you want the book to be read 15 years from now, don’t just copy the freeh report.

    • the dude says:

      So how exactly do you put a pedo enabler in a better light, shine a reality distortion light bulb on the whole dirty subject? Paterno let the dollar signs blind his judgement just like it did all the others involved by shielding and enabling a pedophile to ass rape more defenseless children. Didn’t want to disturb the squeaky clean image of old timey football in Happy Valley.

      Dirtball scumbag whale shit is all I have to describe the lot of them, Paterno included. There is no better light to view this turd through, keep telling yourself different baloney, you might believe it if you repeat it enough.

  8. Chuck says:

    Nice story Hearne.

    I still think he starts from scratch with the research he has, and adds the Freeh report in conjunction with all pertinent information that has surfaced since the scandal broke. It wouldn’t take a genius to run a time line with Jo Pa’s accomplishments set against the horrors of child rape at Penn State.

    “A lot of people came here to bury Joe. As a writer, I’m mad with that, as someone who’s come to know the Paternos, I’m heartbroken.” (Thanks for the quote PB.)

    If Joe Poz was channeling Shakespeare’s Antony, he should have finished the quote.

    “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
    The evil that men do lives after them;
    The good is oft interred with their bones.”

    • smartman says:

      You rocked the house with that one Chuck. JoPo is probably not too familiar with the works of Willy Shakespeare. Too much tragedy in his writing. JoPo was probably raised on Goofus and Gallant.

Comments are closed.