Guest Column: They Weren't, but We Are...

(Photo: MVP/BSD)

By Eric Thomas

Let me get a couple of things out of the way first.

This letter, or column, however you want to define it, is to you the core of the PSU base. It doesn’t represent the thoughts of any place I freelance for, it represents how I, the alumnus feel.

I think BSD is the best non-newspaper/rivals/scout/24-7site out there for PSU football because it’s the voice of the fan.

I’ve been able to separate myself from the writer who once covered PSU football, and still, to a degree do for an in-town publication.

Being a beat writer is the greatest job in the world, I’ll argue that until the day I die, and growing up in Central PA, all I wanted to do was follow in the footsteps of those before me. I did to a degree.

That’s another life.

This is real life.



Like many PSU alums and fans out there, all I’ve felt since last November is fits of rage, sadness, remorse for victims, anger, like I should personally do something to correct it. I’ve felt helpless and restless;this scandal has bothered me from the get-go.

Well what I am doing is appealing to you, the PSU base out there.

Stop pretending to "protect statues," stop revering people as gods they are not. Stop trying to protect people who shouldn’t be protected, focus for a second, deep down, at what really happened here.

We were all lied to, if not by a football coach, by a group of individuals hell bent on protecting an image already achieving a legendary and iconic status.

The Freeh report tells us that Joe Paterno worked hand-in-hand with others to cover up the mess left by his former defensive coordinator.

There wasn’t a need to. He had already achieved a status few in his profession could achieve.

Now that’s gone and buried.

See, Penn State football once meant something.

It meant success with honor, it meant graduating, and it meant becoming a person before being a football player. It meant doing it differently than every other school out there because of who was leading the charge and why he was doing it.

That’s gone now.

I’ve battled my emotions for a few weeks now. I consider State College a second home. I worked there for a great broadcasting company, I developed many friendships in that town, sat in many a bar and argued with fans or students, other journalists, enjoyed walks down College Ave and stops at the creamery and usual trending locales.

Spent money in shops, ate at the Corner Room.

I did this all through my youth and college life, and later spent at least seven weeks a year covering the Penn State football team for a couple of seasons.

Some of you agreed with the way I saw things on both the radio and in print, others didn’t, whatever. It’s not about that.

Here’s what it’s about now.

To the Paternos...

All I want from the Paterno family is less defiance, and a "We are….sorry." Just tell me you’re sorry it’s got to this point. Tell me you regret any misgivings the father committed that hang over the entire family.

Just tell me you’re sorry.

Don’t thank anyone for being supportive; don’t pretend your own investigation will correct any misjudgments you think have come down.

Just say it, one time, you’re sorry.

Then drop the mic and walk off stage.

To the NCAA...

Deep at my core, I do not feel it’s right that a football season goes on. I can’t feel it’s right, but you know what else I feel? I feel you can’t punish a town that has to thrive off Penn State’s success.

It sounds greedy, it sounds apologetic, it sounds too fan boy, but slapping the death penalty on the Penn State football program will only prove you had to do something for the shortcomings you offered when you had the chance to slap other schools around too.

And it would kill the economy of Pennsylvania.

One local television station in Harrisburg, where I live, had a piece on the economic struggles that could happen if the season is wiped out, a possibility two weeks ago I scoffed at, but is very real at this point.

They estimated that $70 million is generated over the seven weeks Penn State has a home game.

Seventy-million.

That’s in lodging, food, airports, bars showing the games, the student earning a few bucks selling programs so he can buy books or groceries.

We can’t lose that.

It’s 2012, we simply cannot lose that. Not when cities are going bankrupt, not when jobs are being cut and lost right and left, not when the economic structure of State College could crumble and linger far longer than a couple of scholarships being swiped from Bill O’Brien’s disposal.

Think about that before you levy a punishment.

To the alumni...

...including the players I still keep in touch with today. Be the best person you can be, whether you hold disdain for your job, struggle to keep your family afloat, be the best person you can be and in turn, you will be the best representative you can be for the school that deep down you know you still love and is forever a part of you.

Outside the Penn State bubble, people need to know the school churns out good, hardworking, respectful people.

You’ve got to be the ambassador that takes Penn State into the next generation. You’ve got to set the tone for the next few decades.You’ve got to be the best person you can be in your daily life and show everyone what that school made you.

That stretches from guys like Michael Robinson and a guy I love and respect in Daryll Clark, to the engineer, to the teacher, to the business owner and all on down the line.

If you’re an alumnus, keep the positive vibes flowing.

That’s how everyone will heal.

For the players, if your season keeps on keeping on, show us how much you care for helping the community heal by leaving everything out on the field. Go 3-9, go 12-0, record won’t matter long term, but being a rock will. I don’t know Bill O’Brien like some have gotten to know him, but I know he will pull every ounce of energy, love, respect and sportsmanship out of you that you have to give.

Leave it all out there for us as a family.

Those who are responsible for this great horror showed their true colors, that they are anything but the Penn State we believe existed. But really, were they ever Penn State to begin with? It doesn't seem so, and that leaves us with this one realization. It is up to all of us to prove what Penn State is and has always been.

It is up to us to show the world that they weren't, but We Are...

I’m open to any discussion via e-mail, you can write meat ethomas626@verizon.net or tweet at me at www.twitter.com/byericthomas.


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