Joe Paterno's Son: My Father Did Nothing Wrong

Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 07:19 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The son of famed football coach Joe Paterno — whose legend was tarnished by a child sex abuse scandal involving one of his subordinate coaches at Penn State University — says his father was treated unfairly.

"Joe was honesty. He was forthcoming, he was cooperative," Jay Paterno said Tuesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"More importantly . . . he was in no way involved in an attempt to conceal, to cover-up anything Jerry Sandusky did. To me, that's the end of the story."

Jay Paterno is author of "Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father," to be published by Triumph Books on Sept 1.

His father was head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from 1966 to 2011, when he was fired in the wake of the sex abuse scandal in which Sandusky, his defensive coordinator, was found to be abusing boys.

An investigation conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh concluded Paterno covered up Sandusky's deeds and may have persuaded university officials not to report him to police.

Jay Paterno said the entire sordid affair is still hard to believe.

"I can remember as it was happening, a good friend of mine would say, boy, if you turned this into a Hollywood script and gave it to somebody, they would tell you it was too over the top, there's no way this could happen,'' he said.

"Every time something new would happen or something else would happen, you'd just scratch your head and say, how is this even possible? But you know, it is what it is."

Paterno said Freeh's report was rushed and "not even close" to presenting a fair portrait of his father.

"Here's a guy that was actually a hero who was turned into a scapegoat and blamed, and was investigated for a while and really had his life turned upside down," he said.

Joe Paterno died from complications of lung cancer two months after he was axed by Penn State.

"Joe was essentially the supervisor of a coach who comes to him and says, I think I saw something, it made me uncomfortable, regarding Jerry Sandusky,'' Jay Paterno said.

"Joe by his own admission said I don't know how to handle these things. [He] consults university policy, follows university policy, which is formulated by state law, and now that's all he knew and as far as he knew it was investigated and found there was nothing there."

Paterno said his father remained amazingly calm as his career ended.

"He had a long-range view of this, and he just kept saying, look, the most important thing is that we get this right for the victims and we get the truth for them and we get the truth as it relates to Penn State,'' he said.

"Several weeks after he had been fired, he had his 85th birthday party, and he's got cancer … and he says to me, 'What do I have to complain about? In the grand scheme in life, I lost the opportunity to coach a couple of games, but I've got five kids that are all healthy and alive, I've got 17 grand-kids that are healthy.'"

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