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How Joe Paterno Should Have Gone Out

Joe Paterno
Photo: Getty Images
Joe Paterno

On Wednesday, just hours before the Penn State Board of Trustees voted to fire him, longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had one last chance to save his legacy.

Before his firing, before lawyers stepped in, Paterno had a chance to fall on the sword and to preserve everything he seemed to stand for publicly.

Instead, Paterno released a statement saying "he could have done more," but admitted, by asking to finish out the season and telling the Board of Trustees that they shouldn't waste time discussing his job status, that what he did not do wasn't bad enough to force him out.

What should Paterno's statement have said?

Here's my suggestion:

It is with great sorrow that I submit my resignation as Penn State's head football coach. I never thought it would come to this point.

Although I am not at liberty to elaborate beyond what I told the Federal Grand Jury about Jerry Sandusky, I realize that I had a greater responsibility to follow through on what had been described to me nine years ago.

I was not explicitly told what exactly happened that day, but I should have followed through more. I will live with this regret for the rest of my life.

My failing to take what was reported to me beyond what was my legal responsibility may have had consequences. I never intended to deceive or harm anyone. That doesn't mean I haven't done both.

In my 46 seasons as Penn State coach, I always taught those who played for me that life is bigger than the game. Yet somehow, it appears as though I lost track of my priorities.

What we now have on our hands is a lot bigger than me. It is a lot bigger than finishing out my career on my terms.

I am resigning from Penn State immediately and will cooperate fully in order to figure out how we missed what we did, so it will not only never happen at the school I love so much but at any other school.

I am not Penn State. We are all Penn State.

Joe Paterno

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