Jay Paterno: ‘People Don’t Know What Really Happened’

Frustrated by the Freeh Report and its effect on his father’s reputation, former Penn State quarterback Jay Paterno has authored Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father.

But why? People know about Jerry Sandusky. They know what happened at Penn State. Why not just go away?

“Well, the thing is, people don’t know,” Paterno said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “They don’t know really what happened – and I address it. The first full chapter of the book is called ‘The Elephant in the Room’ and it addresses a lot of the misperceptions about what happened at Penn State. There’s a lot of things that people think . . . as it relates to Penn State and Joe Paterno that are not true. And I understand why. Very early on, there were some narratives that came out that were ill-informed and not accurate – and (I) felt like if it was your school and your father and a program you gave a lot if your life to, you would certainly want to correct the record. That’s a big part of it. But also, there’s a lot of things in my dad’s life that are lessons worth learning and can have a lot of impact on people’s lives in a very positive way.”

But what exactly is it that we don’t know? What is it that we have wrong?

“Well, I think one of the perceptions is – because of the report Louis Freeh issued – was that there was an attempt by Joe Paterno to cover this up,” Paterno said. “And the truth of the matter is, the prosecutors in this case – who saw far more evidence than Louis Freeh – have stated repeatedly that Joe Paterno was honest, was cooperative, was forthcoming and was in no way shape or form involved in any attempt to conceal or cover up. End of story.”

Only it isn’t.

“There are a lot of people who don’t believe that, but that is what the evidence tells you,” Paterno said. “We get right into that in chapter one, and I wanted to do that intentionally. I wanted to hit that right in the gut – right out of the gate – so that then people could put that behind them and say, ‘Okay, this guy lived one heck of a life and there are a lot of things in here, and we can remove this from our thought process as it relates to Joe Paterno and his career and legacy.’”

But when Mike McQueary told Joe Paterno what he saw in 2001 – Sandusky and a little boy in the shower – why didn’t Paterno do everything he could to keep Sandusky away from the program?

“Well, here’s the thing: That is part of what people have wrong,” Paterno said. “In 2001, Jerry had been retired for two years, No. 1. No. 2, in 2001, Joe went (to his superiors) immediately, as he was required to by Pennsylvania law – and as he was limited to by Pennsylvania law, because anything involving child sexual abuse is a very sensitive investigation, so you are only allowed to go report to your superiors and then you are not allowed to follow up because it could compromise an investigation.”

“So, after that, Jerry was not around our program,” Paterno continued. “Jerry was not at practices. After he retired in ’99, he was not at practices, he was not on away-game trips, he was not on the sidelines for games – he was not a part of our program. But again, that’s a perception that persists because of what Freeh put out in his report, which has been reviewed by many, many outside sources and has been shown to be fatally and tragically flawed.”

“So again, it’s one of the reasons that I write the book. And look, I understand why people think that – because that’s what they heard in July 2012 when Freeh went on national television and issued that report. That’s why I think it’s important to get this right.”


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