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.
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.
“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.