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FRENCH RIVER…. The Freeh report regarding the Jerry Sandusky incidents at Penn State University was delivered last Thursday, and the report, compiled by former FBI Director Louie Freeh, was damning in its scope of the incidents of the now-convicted Sandusky. The report also put the hammer on the late Joe Paterno, former university president Graham Spanier, and former athletic director Tim Curley. As of this writing, I have found statements from all except Spanier refuting the findings of the report. Paterno’s family issued a statement denying the findings of the report.
The report alleges a combination of outright cover-up to oversight negligence and more. The report outlines a distinct pattern by Paterno to keep the incidents that Sandusky has now been convicted of from coming to the light of day, thus protecting the PSU football program and its carefully crafted image from public scrutiny and potential legal situations. Like many matters of importance that also have legal implications attached, public opinion has lined up on both sides of the report.
For me, the report has probably finally hammered home to me that one of the greatest athletic icons of my lifetime just might not be the person I thought him to be. I have struggled to grab hold of this. On the one hand, the university hired Freeh to handle the investigation, so part of me is saying that he was going to find something on someone if for no other reason than to justify his hiring by PSU. Additionally, and regarding Paterno, these findings come out at a time after Paterno’s passing, whereby he is not here with us to refute the findings or defend himself.
However, upon skimming through the report, there is incident after incident where Paterno clearly demonstrated that he was aware of what was going on and didn’t move forward to have Sandusky investigated, indicted, and halted from doing what he was doing. I don’t have to remind you that in correctional facilities, pedophiles are generally considered to be the lowest of the low. You can draw conclusions from the report that the program and its image were more important to Paterno than seeking justice for Sandusky’s victims, and that others in positions of importance failed to act as well is disappointing, to say the least.
I have to state that I am not really a PSU football fan. I WAS a Joe Paterno fan. In the cesspool of big-time NCAA football and basketball, Paterno was the light. He was the one guy whom we thought was one of a very few who was able to stay out of the abyss. So, my heart sank a bit more with each page of the report I saw. In a society chock full of liars and cheaters in all walks of life, this one hurts. It’s like watching a historical landmark on fire. You keep thinking that the firemen are going to be able to put it out until it finally does collapse and is gone. Gone for good, just like Joe’s program and his image….
SUFFICE IT TO SAY THAT the Minnesota Twins are at rock bottom. To watch the weekend series versus the Oakland A’s was pure baseball pain. The team is amongst six clubs vying for the bottom of MLB standings. There was a stretch before the All Star game break where I thought the club just might be turning the corner. They had a 7-3 stretch of ball that seemingly had them about to turn the proverbial corner. They were about 8 or 9 games out of the AL Central lead, and considering how bad this division is, I entertained for a brief moment that the team just might be able to find some consistency and move up.
Then baseball reality hit. A 13-14 month of June has been followed by a July record to date of 4-7. The team is last in the Central, and is sporting an MLB worst 101 run differential. The A’s series was painful, just plain painful. Twins pitching surrendered 9 homeruns in the 3-game series. The ineptitude of the Bill Smith rein as GM is coming home to roost. The question most fans have is this: can Twins GM Terry Ryan right the ship? Will he have to make another Eric Milton type of trade to bring back some talent to the fold to put the team back on top? Can he? Twins fans everywhere are hoping so!
THE MINNESOTA WILD are still basking in the light of the Parise-Ryan signings. The club held its annual prospects camp last week, and for the scrimmages the fans showed up in droves to see the team’s rookies and prospects. Attendance for three scrimmages was estimated at 7,000 for the first two and 7,500 for the last one. Things are definitely on the upswing for the locals!! Let’s go, Wild!! Peace
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Marc Elliott is a freelance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott recently wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County News Chronicle for ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710AM in Duluth.