Joe Paterno an Easy Target in Penn State Mess

Joe Paterno an Easy Target in Penn State Mess

There is plenty of blame to go around at Penn State for what has unfolded in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case. Tim Curley deserves to lose his job as athletic director, and he will one way or another, even though the Board of Trustees granted a request for a temporary leave. Gary Schultz is somehow being allowed the same leave of absence and an escape back to retirement. These men should be fired, make no mistake about it.

Many have pointed a finger at Joe Paterno over the past 48 hours for his role in all of this. But why? Because he didn’t do enough?

Paterno was informed of possible sexual abuse of a child in 2002 by his former longtime defensive coordinator by a graduate assistant (who we now know to be former quarterback and current wide receivers coach Mike McQueary) and reported it to Curley the very next day, which is what the law requires him to do. At that time, legally, it is out of Paterno’s hands. Does that mean Paterno washed his hands of the situation? That is what some are expecting, and this is where the court of public opinion runs wild without merit in many ways.

As Paterno suggested in his statement, at this point it is best to allow the legal process to unfold so we can fill in the blanks of information. Many are just assuming that Paterno never did anything after bringing this up to Curley in 2002. We do not know this to be true, and to be fair we do not know it to not be true. We just do not have enough information to make a decision one way or the other.

So why is Paterno such a hot-button issue when there are so many more people that deserve the ire of the media, fans, and practically everybody else in such a heinous crime or series of crimes? It’s simple. Paterno is the figurehead. Paterno is the name everybody knows. Paterno’s role in all of this, as minor as it is, is what people will latch on to because it is the easiest, and laziest thing to do without taking in to account all of the facts of the grand jury presentment.

It is an incident like this that will grow all kinds of legs and run wild with those in the national media who see that Paterno’s name shows up in an attorney general’s report and although his name appears a small handful of times, making a story with Paterno in the headline will grab more attention nationally than some story about a former coach and a bumbling athletics director. It is sad, but painfully true.

This is not to say that Paterno is without fault. According to the law Paterno could have called the cops and should have called the police with the information of suspected sex abuse of a child. But let’s step back and attempt to place ourselves in his shoes for a minute.

Some of you may be smarter than me when it comes to the law, but before all of this information came out I will admit that I did not know I was legally required to report the sexual abuse of a child. Maybe you did and I am ignorant on this instance, but hear me out. I didn’t know it was the law, so who is to say Paterno didn’t know the law as well? Mind you, not knowing the law does not prevent one from breaking the law, but in this case Paterno followed the law as it was initially written.

Keep in mind that Paterno is a guy who has never tolerated much nonsense on his watch as far as the football program has been concerned. When Phil Taylor brandished a knife on a teammate inside the locker room, Paterno and his staff were quick to ensure he was removed from the team. Taylor transferred to Baylor after being kicked off the team. Austin Scott was kicked off the team following charges of suspected statutory rape (to be fair Scott had a history of violating team rules as well, but the timing seemed kind of odd), which were later dropped. Paterno is a guy who sits players for showing up late for practices and meetings and other team functions. Yet nobody will give him even the benefit of a doubt that he tried to do what he thought was right in this Sandusky situation?

Sandusky operated a football camp on Penn State’s campus as recently as 2009. This is not something Paterno would have had control over. Sandusky was around the football program in practices and on game days, but as hard as it may be to believe, Paterno had no authority over those appearances. Paterno could have voiced his opinions to the game day operations directors and facilities managers (and we don’t know if he did or didn’t), but the final decisions on whether or not Sandusky would be allowed to have the access he did after retirement would have been at the discretion of a higher authority than Paterno.

If it sounds like I’m making excuses for Paterno, well right now I suppose I am. If we eventually learn that Paterno avoided the situation just the same way Curley and Schultz buried it, then I take back all of this. But for right now everybody is playing the attack Joe card, so somebody has to play the Devil’s advocate.

The fact is Paterno is just a minor player in all of this. This is not a Paterno story because, believe it or not, some things at Penn State are larger than Joe Paterno. This is more about the secret life of a longtime Paterno assistant, the lack of action by the athletic director and head of the university police, with jurisdiction.

If this is how Paterno goes in to retirement it will be a shame for a number of reasons, but we will have to wait and see. Just remember that Paterno is only a minor character in all of this in State College. He is an easy target, but he should not be the big target.

10 Eagles to watch during 2017 training camp

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USA Today Images/CSN

10 Eagles to watch during 2017 training camp

The Eagles kick off their 2017 training camp this week for a season with higher expectations than a year ago. 

A big reason for that is because Carson Wentz is entering his second season after an up-and-down, yet promising, rookie campaign. We're not going to list him as a player to watch because we're all going to watch him anyway. 

Another big reason for optimism is plenty of newcomers. Many of them are listed. 

Here are 10 players to watch during Eagles training camp 2017: 

Nelson Agholor 
We mentioned the newcomers, but let's start with a guy who has been here for a couple of disappointing seasons. Agholor will probably never live up to his draft status, but now it's just about making him a decent NFL player. This spring, he was the best receiver on the field, which was undeniable as it was infuriating to fans. Because it just hasn't translated into games and until it does, no one will care much. But it's worth watching to see if he can continue his impressive offseason. Maybe this year, with a reduced role, he won't be a headcase. 

Derek Barnett
The first-round pick showed some impressive signs during the spring, especially when he beat Lane Johnson a few times 1-on-1. But now the pads go on and the real football begins. Barnett has a real chance to not just earn playing time but also earn a starting job during this training camp. 

Ron Brooks/Joe Walker
We cheated a little here by lumping these two together, but it kind of makes sense. Both are coming back from serious injuries, which is why we need to see what they can do. Walker tore his ACL during the preseason a year ago. Before he did, he was set to be the team's backup middle linebacker. It wasn't until his injury that the Eagles went out and signed Stephen Tulloch. And Brooks was playing OK as the Eagles' slot cornerback before his ruptured quad tendon in October. Jim Schwartz seems to really like him, but many folks have seemingly forgotten about Brooks this offseason. 

Timmy Jernigan
Of all the newcomers, Jernigan might be the most overlooked, but could also make the biggest impact. He's here with just one year left on his contract but will get a chance to put up some serious numbers while playing next to Fletcher Cox on the interior line. 

LeGarrette Blount
Blount reportedly has language written into his contract that gives him bonuses based on staying under 250 pounds. Even if he's under 250, Blount is still a big back, about 20 pounds heavier than rookie Corey Clement. Blount is up there in age and had a huge workload for the Patriots last season. How much does he have left? 

Rasul Douglas 
Of all the Eagles' rookies, Douglas might need to have the most immediate impact. The third-round pick might be thrust into a major role this season just because of the lack of talent at the cornerback position. He was impressive in the spring but is bound to have ups and downs as a rookie. 

Alshon Jeffery 
The Eagles actually have a real No. 1 receiver. Jeffery made some spectacular catches during the spring, but he and Wentz need to build their rapport, which they had extra time to do when the receivers went to North Dakota. We'll see how far along he and Wentz are soon enough. 

Donnel Pumphrey
It's pretty shocking to see how small Pumphrey looks without pads, especially standing next to Blount. How will the Eagles use the tiny running back? Will he be more of a receiver out of the backfield and in the slot? And can his body really hold up in the NFL? 

Isaac Seumalo 
Yeah, we're telling you an interior offensive lineman is a guy to watch. Seumalo has a real chance to beat out Allen Barbre for the starting left guard position. Either way, Seumalo figures into the Eagles' plans for the future as a guard or as the center who eventually takes over for Jason Kelce. 

Mack Hollins
Of the rookie receivers, Hollins was clearly more impressive this spring. I became convinced Hollins can play football in shorts and a helmet. Now, we'll get to see how he does when the pads go on. With his size/speed combo, he's certainly an intriguing prospect.

Union's Andre Blake helps Jamaica stun Mexico to reach CONCACAF Gold Cup final

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USA Today Images

Union's Andre Blake helps Jamaica stun Mexico to reach CONCACAF Gold Cup final

PASADENA, Calif. -- Kemar Lawrence scored on an exquisite 24-yard free kick in the 88th minute, and Jamaica advanced to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final with a 1-0 upset victory over Mexico on Sunday night.

Jamaica will face the United States on Wednesday night at Santa Clara, California. The Reggae Boyz are seeking their first championship in soccer's North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake kept the game scoreless with a series of saves while Mexico dominated possession despite missing most its top players.

Lawrence's late strike froze goalkeeper Jesus Corona. The ball rose past a five-man wall and curled into the left corner just below the bar for the New York Red Bulls defender's third career international goal and first in three years.

The Reggae Boyz have reached the final for the second straight Gold Cup tournament, but this stunning upset at the Rose Bowl ranks among their biggest international wins. Mexico has won seven Gold Cup titles, the U.S. five and Canada one.

Trying to win its second consecutive Gold Cup and fourth in five tournaments, Mexico used the deeper reaches of its player pool following the World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup last month. While teams were allowed to make up to six substitutions for the knockout rounds, El Tri coach Juan Carlos Osorio said he was blocked by Mexico's clubs.

Mexico hadn't trailed in the tournament before Lawrence's late goal, but El Tri also hadn't been impressive -- no player scored more than one goal. That lack of finishing skill ultimately cost Mexico, which failed to advance to the Gold Cup final for just the second time in the last six tournaments.

The crowd was dominated by Mexico's vast Southern California fan base, but the Rose Bowl was less than half-full with just 42,393 fans. The absence of Chicharito Hernandez and other top Mexican stars, combined with El Tri's unattractive performances in the Gold Cup to date, apparently kept many of their usual faithful at home.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino watched the semifinal from the Rose Bowl stands. So did Osorio, who served the fifth game of a six-match FIFA ban for his conduct toward officials during the Confederations Cup.

Blake made two brilliant saves in succession in the 12th minute, diving twice to stop close-range chances by Jesus Duenas and Erick Torres, the Houston Dynamo star and the only player on the current roster from outside Mexico's domestic leagues.

Blake did it again in the 25th minute, stopping Torres' point-blank header from the top of the 6-yard box with improbably quick reactions.

Jesus Molina sent Blake crashing to the ground with aerial contact in the 34th minute while competing for a ball in the box, but Jamaica rallied and forced Corona to make his own diving stop in the 38th minute off a free kick.

Jesus Gallardo's 22-yard free kick also was punched away adroitly in the 65th minute by Blake for his sixth official save.

Jamaica got a chance in the 56th minute, but substitute Ricardo Morris' 14-yard shot went straight to Corona. Damion Lowe got another golden chance with a sharp header off a free kick in the 78th minute, but Corona dived to swat it away.