First and foremost, we can't imagine being one of the victims, or someone close to one of the victims. We particularly cannot imagine what we would feel about Penn State and certain folks there -- if allegations are true -- had we been impacted after the first bit of evidence against Jerry Sandusky had come to light. Reading the grand jury report will make your stomach turn and it will make you sad. It will reveal very consistent allegations. It will make you very angry.
We can't imagine being Sandusky, and what it must feel like, right now, to be one of the most despised humans on earth. And again, if allegations are true, to have earned it.
We can't imagine being Joe Paterno -- to be at place for more than six decades, to be a head coach there since 1966, to be a legend in a sport, an icon to the masses and an unbreakable figure in your dominion ... and to have it all come crashing down so violently and horribly right at the end. He will be remembered for a lot of things. This scandal will be right at the top, and that's something -- among many things -- he can unfortunately never change.
We can't imagine being a media member in State College. That press conference last night got pretty gross.
But the person we feel we can relate to the most in all of this ... well, we can't come close to imagining being him. We're not saying we feel the worst of all for Joe Posnanski. We're just saying his situation, which is very easy for us to consider, is so enormous and bizarre that we aren't sure we would even know where to begin.
Posnanski, of course, is an immensely talented writer who has long had a fascination with Joe Paterno. As such, he began writing what he hoped would be the definitive Paterno biography. And for the past few months he's been stationed in Happy Valley -- talking to numerous folks close to Paterno, observing the man and trying, in essence, to write the complete version of a life. Those nuances and balances would have been difficult enough. For the most part, though, we imagine the pages would have flattered the old coach.
Then, of course, everything busted loose Saturday. From then until Wednesday night, things went from terrible to even worse. Last night was by no means an endpoint to this sordid saga, but for Posnanski's purposes it was a game-changer. We might never know exactly what Paterno knew, but the proper consensus, when you think about it, was obviously reached. Paterno had specific knowledge of an unspeakable crime. He chose to do something, but he didn't choose to do nearly enough. With that, there is no way he could coach another game. And a complicated life story now becomes a mess.
Posnanski wrote initially when the news broke. He is clearly shaken by all this for a multitude of reasons. His piece finished like this, and it noted he wouldn't be writing more for a long time:
There will be a lot written about Penn State and Paterno and this stomach-churning story over the next while. I’ll read, but I won’t write. Not yet. In time, I will. My old friend Buck O’Neil always used to say that what you do in the dark will come to light. As a writer, it’s dark outside.
We're pulling for you, Joe Posnanski, to find the light and write what could be some very important, incredible words.
You went to cover a sunset, and you walked into a hurricane. We can't even imagine.