“Paterno,” Joe Posnanski‘s biography of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, will be released on Tuesday.
The book, which was started well before charges were filed against Jerry Sandusky in November, talks at length about a relationship between the two men that was contentious from the very beginning.
Posnanski calls Paterno and Sandusky “polar opposites.” As Sandusky’s Penn State career neared its end, members of Paterno’s family described what they called the coach’s “Why I Hate Jerry Sandusky Memo.”
Sandusky’s retirement after the 1999 season was also discussed in great length, and the book draws the same conclusion as former FBI director Louis Freeh‘s investigation: It appeared to have nothing to do with a 1998 incident involving Sandusky and a young boy in a Penn State shower.
Regarding a 2002 incident in which then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky in a Penn State shower with a boy, Paterno told Posnanski a similar story to what he told a grand jury.
“Did you consider calling the police?” Posnanski asked.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t,” Paterno responded. “This isn’t my field. I didn’t know what to do. I had not seen anything. Jerry didn’t work for me anymore. I didn’t have anything to do with him. I tried to look through the Penn State guidelines to see what I was supposed to do. It said that I was supposed to call Tim [Curley]. So I did.”
Among some of the other excerpts of note:
On people saying he protected Sandusky over children
“How could they think that?” he asked, and no one had the heart to answer. “They really think that if I knew someone was hurting kids, I wouldn’t stop it?”
They looked at him.
“Don’t they know me? Don’t they know what my life has been about?”
On Jerry Sandusky
In 1993, Paterno wrote what the family would sometimes call the “Why I Hate Jerry Sandusky Memo.” In it Paterno complained that Sandusky had stopped recruiting, seemed constantly distracted, had lost his energy for coaching, and was more interested in his charity, The Second Mile. “He would gripe about Jerry all the time,” one family member said.
On son Jay Paterno
Did he hope that someday Jay would replace him as coach? It’s hard to imagine a father not thinking along those lines, but Joe insisted that wasn’t in his mind. “Are you kidding me?” he scoffed. “You think I would want Jay to have to deal with that?”… “Jay’s a good coach, a darned good coach. And I think a lot of people refuse to see that because his name is Paterno.”
On the Paterno statue
Paterno disliked the statue. Not because of the craftsmanship or the dimensions or anything like that. The statue and the stone wall behind it and the words carved into the stone, it all felt like a celebration of self, a mausoleum. But even these were not the reasons for Paterno’s distaste. The reason was a single finger, the index finger, the statue of Joe Paterno raised to the heavens. We’re No. 1.
On The Second Mile
Paterno would say again and again that he did not see anything perverse in Sandusky’s dealings with children. His problem with The Second Mile was much simpler: the kids annoyed the hell out of him. … He did not want kids around when there was work to do.
On a 1998 investigation
There is reason to believe that, whatever Paterno was told, it did not make much of an impact on him. The coaches’ meeting that leads this section was held on May 26, 1998 — precisely at the time Sandusky was being investigated — and his detailed and pointed notes make no mention of the investigation. Also, by the late 1990s, he had explored numerous options for removing Sandusky from his coaching staff. … If Paterno did know the details of the 1998 investigation, he might have used it as a way to get rid of Sandusky. He did not.
On Sandusky’s retirement in 1999
[Paterno] told Sandusky he would not be the next head coach at Penn State. Sandusky mentioned the early retirement package, and Paterno suggested it might be a good time for him to take it. Both men later said that the 1998 incident was never discussed.
On Sandusky’s retirement package, which included access to Penn State facilities
When I told Paterno that people would find it hard to believe the could not have influenced Sandusky’s retirement package, he said, “People like to give me too much power. That’s Tim’s department. I told Tim how I felt. He worked out the deal as he saw fit.”
On conclusions of the Freeh report
The general media takeaway from this email chain [discussing how Penn State officials should handle McQueary’s testimony] was that Paterno had convinced Curley to back off reporting Sandusky and to handle this in-house. Others familiar with the emails believed instead that Paterno had demanded they confront Sandusky.