Paterno and Grace: Is There Any Chance They Go Together?

One of the blogs that should have made my spotlight list was the People Of The Second Chance Blog.  This blog focuses on overthrowing judgement and liberating love.  Over the past several months, they have featured pictures like the one shown above of various criminals, thugs, and misfits who have killed, raped, and committed various sins.  The question always asked with these pictures is the same: “Who would you give a second chance?”  The blog asks readers to post their comments but to also post their thoughts on their own blogs.  When the opportunity to comment and blog about Joe Paterno came up, I thought it would give me a chance to “stretch” my own mind and heart a bit.  So here goes…

First, you should know that I live in Pennsylvania, and I am a Penn State alum.  While I didn’t graduate from the main campus, I’m still a Penn State and JoePa fan.  So as the news broke a couple of weeks ago about the child sex abuse allegations and the apparent cover-up, I was deeply saddened.  Is it really possible that Joe Paterno knew what was going on and didn’t say anything?  Is this how it’s going to end for a man who has meant so much to so many players, students, and fans?

I haven’t read many of the reports or seen many of the TV interviews, but I’ve heard enough from the water-cooler conversations at the office and the passing radio reports that there was obviously inappropriate activities happening up in Happy Valley.  And Paterno even admitted that he should have done more to speak up and stop what was going on.  So why didn’t he speak up?  Was he protecting his friend?  Was he protecting his football program?  Was he protecting Penn State?  Was he protecting his own name?

The Bible says that a good name is worth more than any riches (A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.  Proverbs 22:1).  In a week’s time, a name that was synonymous with greatness, values, and winning has been all but destroyed.  Paterno was fired for his lack of action.  He’s been all over the newspapers, internet, and television where he’s been labeled a hypocrite.  He was removed from a list of names in line to receive a prestigious award from President Obama.  And I heard yesterday that his name was removed from a championship trophy.

The morning after Paterno was fired, I talked with my son about the importance of standing up and speaking out when things happen around us that are wrong.  Whether or not you’re a kid in sixth grade or a nationally known football coach, it can be hard to speak up.  But these recent events are a great reminder that we can’t just sit on the side lines and pretend that things around us are always perfect.

So I guess this brings me to the question on the poster.  Do you think Joe Paterno deserves a second chance?  Do you think there’s room for grace in the middle of these awful allegations?  I guess I fall on both sides of this thing.  On the one hand, our actions (or lack of action) have consequences.  There’s no getting around this.  If the allegations prove true, many kids lives were forever blemished.  You cannot overlook this.  Having said that, I believe that there is still time for Paterno to make the most of this situation.  First, he can come clean on whatever else he may know related to these allegations.  And second he can do whatever he can to make things right – especially for the families of those who were most closely impacted.  So yes, I believe that there is hope, grace, and second chances for Paterno.

What do you think?  Have you ever been guilty of failing to speak up?  Does Paterno deserve a second chance?  Drop a comment here and be sure to stop over at the POTSC blog to add your input to the conversation.