All over the country, reporters are calling young coaches and old rivals alike today for polite reactions to the death of an icon in their profession, Joe Paterno. Most of their statements have been short, courteous and free of inappropriate exclamation points.
Then there's the one old coach who probably would have been better off keeping his mouth shut:
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)—Jerry Sandusky, the retired Penn State assistant coach who faces child sex abuse charges in a case that led to the firing of Joe Paterno, called the death of his former boss a sad loss Sunday.
"This is a sad day! Our family, Dottie [Sandusky's wife] and I would like to convey our deepest sympathy to Sue [Paterno] and her family," Sandusky said in a statement. "Nobody will be able to take away the memories we all shared of a great man, his family, and all the wonderful people who were a part osf his life.
"He maintained a high standard in a very difficult profession. Joe preached toughness, hard work and clean competition Most importantly, he had the courage to practice what he preached."
That's an… interesting choice of words from the alleged beneficiary of Paterno's greatest lapse in the standards-and-practices department, his failure to follow up on an eyewitness accusation in 2002 that Sandusky — a former player and longtime defensive coordinator under Paterno — had been caught molesting a young boy in a Penn State shower. That incident is one of 52 criminal counts Sandusky faces for allegedly abusing at least 10 victims over a span of 15 years, and the one that eventually led to Paterno's ouster last November.
Under the circumstances, Sandusky's statement sounds less like condolences than a cruel taunt that mocks the reputation he helped tarnish. Sometimes, even if you do have something nice to say, you still shouldn't say anything at all.
The official cause of death, according to Mount Nittany Medical Center, was "metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung," indicating a cancer that has spread from one part of the body to an unrelated area. Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer within days of being fired and had been undergoing radiation treatment for the last two months. He was reportedly hospitalized on Jan. 13 and fell gravely ill on Saturday, when his family was called to his side. He was pronounced dead today at 9:25 a.m.