Mike McQueary Will Have to Publicly Live with His Cowardice: A Fan’s Perspective

Mike McQueary never asked to be a hero. On March 1, 2002, then a 28-year old graduate assistant for Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions football program, McQueary was doing what so many young coaches do as they scratch and claw from the bottom of a competitive totem pole to earn a respected place in their coaching community. He was working late.

Now (or for the time being) the recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach for PSU, McQueary entered the locker room at approximately 9:30 p.m. to put away a new pair of sneakers and to grab some recruiting tape to undoubtedly pour over through the night. Coaching at that level doesn't put a damper on free time, it extinguishes it. There are never enough hours in a day. So, when McQueary entered that locker room like he had so many times before, there is no doubt that what he came upon would bewilder, frighten, and possibly confuse anybody of right mind who stumbled upon it. The following was taken directly from the grand jury report, and if you haven't read it, it's graphic in nature:

"As the graduate assistant entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard rhythmic, slapping sounds. He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him. The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught."

There can't possibly be anything that would prepare you to see something that egregious in the realm of humanity. On its base, I feel for McQueary for having to witness it. However, in comparison to how I feel for the unnamed, faceless ten year old boy that was treated to the business end of sodomy by a sadistic, purely evil, predator, McQueary was treated to ice cream that night. And that is why his cowardice in fleeing the situation is as high in culpability as the perpetration of the crime itself. Something in McQueary's head told him that running to his office to call his father to ask what to do was the prudent move. Something in his father's head thought the prudent thing to do would be to have his son leave the building and come over to the house to discuss it. Meanwhile, there was a 10-year old boy in the shower with a monster. He was left there. This was not some infant swaddled in warm blankets abandoned on the front step of a hospital. This was a boy, a thinking, petrified, innocent child being left out in a cold that not many of us could ever imagine.

When the common citizen conjures up images of a "grad assistant," they may picture a frail, nerdy, insecure college graduate living in libraries because their sociability is at its apex amongst books. That is not the case here. Mike McQueary is a tall and brooding red head, standing well above six feet and carrying 200-plus burly football player pounds. He was a quarterback at State College High School and Penn State. He is said to have been a vocal leader on the field in Happy Valley and a brilliant persuader of young men when recruting in a living room.

He is said to be a "leader." What a frighteningly sad reality it is when a community as large as Penn State's can so horrendously mischaracterize someone who's stature on the sidelines of every Penn State game is as evident as Joe Pa himself. A leader sternly and angrily screams into that shower to stop. A leader grabs the closest towel or blanket and scoops that boy up, running at break neck speed to the closest area hospital while feverishly dialing 911 on their cell phone. A leader might take a moment to knock out Jerry Sandusky with repeated blows so when the police arrive on scene, he'll still be there, right at the scene of the crime. A leader stands up. Leaders don't cower. Leaders don't run to daddy to ask for advice. Yeah, let's mull it over in front of the family fire place over cocoa while a ten year old endures a life-changing, earth-shattering assault. Lets look out for my own rear end by, in essence, protecting someone who in 2002, didn’t even work there anymore.

The grand jury report identifies and tells the stories of eight victims of Sandusky's heinous crimes. It is graphic, woefully disturbing, deeply upsetting and more macabre than any horror film. It was a sadistic operation, routine in its application. Sandusky was like an insect feeling out his prey, testing the waters, easing into the unthinkable, not all at once, but with malicious calculation. He should be put to death, but that's a whole other article.

At least one other victim's story in the report came after 2002. Most of the victims' stories were documented from evidence in the late '90s, before Sandusky was asked to leave the Penn State football program, but considering the story of the one victim that took place at Clinton Area high school in the period from 2006 to 2008, you have to wonder just how many boys between 2002 and 2008 Mike McQueary could have spared that night. How many boys, now men, wouldn't have to wake up to the nightmares? How many hours of therapy could have been avoided? How many relationships in the lives of Lord knows how many victims were destroyed or hampered because those boys just couldn't bring themselves to let anyone get close to them again? How much sorrow? How much pain?

Mike McQueary, I ask you, will you stand in front of a microphone and answer the question—what were you thinking? Your father told you to go to Paterno and the administration, It lends a lot of evidence to the kind of man you are knowing the man that raised you didn't tell you to contact law enforcement. Will you stand up for your father if I call him a coward to? What were you thinking, Mike? Do you have children? What if it was your son? I'm not sure if you're married, but think about that old scenario where the spouse walks in on their wife with another man? Would that have been enough to make you act? Or would you have just walked out of that room distraught as well? What would dad have told you to do there?

We all know Mike McQueary didn't walk in that locker room expecting to be faced with a situation where heroism was needed. That boy didn't need an out and out hero that night. Neither did the victims after him. What they needed was a leader. Hell, what they needed was a human being.

Instead, they got Mike McQueary.



GRAND JURY REPORT—Sandusky Grand Jury Presentment


Pete Lieber is a freelance writer and a Philadelphia sports enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter at @Lieber14.

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Updated Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011