As bad as last week was, this one will be worse.
All the stories we heard of how former
This week, as a veteran but hilariously over matched defense attorney attempts to wiggle and writhe and obfuscate a way out, will be worse.
Already we’ve got a new phrase being whisked around:
This defense is, as the New York Daily News' Dick Weiss described it, a final Hail Mary.
But Weiss also writes this: "Sandusky wore a halo during most of his 30-year career as an assistant coach and was canonized as the founder of the Second Mile charity that supposedly benefited troubled youth."
Weiss goes on to say that this trial should have never made it to trial, that Sandusky should have just slunked off somewhere to serve his time. If only we'd been that lucky.
At least now the discussion of Sandusky and those who may have known or may have even protected him will intensify. That could help.
Because the same culture that gave Sandusky the halo and allowed him to wear it through numerous signals that something was not right – and could indeed be terribly wrong – still exists. And within it, maybe Jerry Sandusky believes that he can be set free. Within the warped world that enabled all of this to happen, why wouldn't he feel as though it was simply another defensive stand that must be – and inevitably would be – made?
I've harped on this idea before, but the extent to which much of this catches so many people off guard is disconcerting. We've long known that big-time college sports teams morphed into their own mini-corporations, beholden mostly to their own success and growth. Penn State football happened to be covered in gloss, put there by a compliant media and town that capitalized on its success.
My first year at Penn State was Sandusky's first year focusing on his charity work. So I never covered him, per se. But the football players and coaches I did cover over four years remained strangers to me, and probably to most of the robust media corps. Maybe this is a sign of poor reporting on my part. Maybe it's the necessary adaptation of a football program to a 24/7 news cycle. Coaches have jobs to do, and reporters might be seen as distractions.
But even while acknowledging how competitive
Is this the lament of a reporter who couldn't crack the door, get inside? Sure. Oddly, many readers have and will side with Penn State on this. They see the media prying as nefarious, I guess, and unsavory.
And while it’s preposterous to promise that better access for reporters would have stopped Sandusky, it’s equally absurd to say it would have had no impact. An open culture where unbiased outsiders could have seen players and coaches interacting in real-time would have fostered an atmosphere of accountability, at least to some degree. Instead we were left to cover the façade, and to repeat empty clichés uttered by linebackers who knew Sandusky as a guy who could coach them up and get them a shot in the
Former Nittany Lion LaVar Arrington wrote about his ignorance of the pain felt by one alleged victim in a chilling piece for the
This week, a man who allegedly (journalistic decorum demands that I continue typing that word) perpetrated so much evil by using Penn State's good name as a shield and its near-military code of loyalty as a cloak will thrash meekly against what everyone now knows about him. Actually, Sandusky himself may end up not testifying (Amendola had hinted that he would; now it appears the trial may end by Thursday, seemingly leaving too small of a window for Sandusky to be cross-examined) and will simply have his lawyers do the work for him. They'll try to discredit the alleged victims, paint them as gold diggers. They could also bring respected civilians to the stand – relatives of Paterno, maybe – and get them to say how kind Jerry had been to so many kids for so long, and how important he'd been to Penn State. They'll try to pull us all back into that bubble – that's their job, of course – where none of this seemed possible, where Sandusky was a guy who'd worked for Paterno, was a guy who loved kids, was a cog in a great Penn State/Second Mile machine doling out tickets down a righteous path, a machine above reproach, a machine too busy to answer your questions anyway.