What really killed Joe Paterno?

No matter how many incredible things a person does for society, one misjudgment can change everyone’s opinion of him. Joe Paterno (JoePa) was a legend…correction…is still a legend in the eyes of many, but will not be remembered for his positive attributes to the community. He will be remembered as the man that didn’t do nearly enough when his defensive coordinator, Coach Jerry Sandusky, sexually abused little boys.

The Joe Paterno Statue

JoePa died at age 85 on Jan. 22, 2011. His medical records displayed that he died of lung cancer, but could something else have been the killer?  Did the negativity from the media and society contribute to his death? I believe so!

Joe said himself that he wished he had done more. Don’t get me wrong; I despise the fact that Joe did not do more to turn Sandusky in, but he was not the only person in a position to stop the abominable acts. The Board, the Athletic Director, janitors and others also could have turned Sandusky in, but didn’t! So why did Joe take the fall? Maybe it is because our society likes creating heroes, but we love tearing them down.

Does Joe’s legacy outweigh the sexual abuse scandal? JoePa has too many awards and honors to count. He turned Penn State football around and made the boys on the team not only better players but better people. He is a loved man around Pa. and fashioned an admirable reputation throughout his lifetime. Positive PR was created just through him living his life and working to better society, which also made Penn State look good. He was creating relationships within his organization that extended to the outside world, which no PR team could do in the same genuine way that JoePa did.

Where did Penn State go wrong?

After JoePa turned his information over to the school the PR team kept the information a secret to protect their reputations. Not reporting the scandal first and trying to turn in a criminal was their big mistake! Being in PR classes, I have learned that you always want to report your issue to the public before the media can beat you to it. Penn State failed to report the scandal first and because of that their reputation is now tarnished. It is almost impossible to regain trust in the world of PR once you lose credibility.

If the media didn’t assume and didn’t instantly blame Joe would he still be here? I guess we will never know. JoePa is an example of why social media and news sometimes scares me! In Joe’s case it may have led to his death.


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