In the days following the sanctions my nights were haunted by a re-occurring dream. Awoken by the feeling of the ground trembling beneath me, it starts abruptly. Looking out my second-story window, I could see a fog coming toward State College off in the distance which seemed to originate from the direction of Bristol, Connecticut. As the fog nears, birds begin to fall from the sky and a chilling silence overcomes the area. A sense of cold coming from within my own body makes me begin to shiver.
The troops appear out of the fog. A media blitz of negativity and assumptions carpet bomb all of the major buildings, none are left standing. Initially the locals stand in place, watching the destruction in awe. Some are shocked that there is so much unnecessary collateral damage. Gone are the engineering buildings. Representatives from the University of Illinois run down North Atherton carrying the P that had been hanging on the front of the library, all wearing the masks of Guy Fawkes. Looters chase after them to get video footage for their television shows. Some choose to flee the scene, taking refuge in a Redd and Brown colored Fortt called distance. Others choose to defend themselves.
Protests are called riots in the news that reports the events. Supporters of justice and due process are labelled sympathizers of a pedophile enabler. It didn't matter that there was no enabler. The coach is fired then drawn and quartered while standing on his front porch and then later from his hospital bed and after that his grave.
Paterno's associates are chased into a safe house, surrounded, and then murdered in the court of public opinion after being charged with perjury. No judge or jury is present, and no defense is heard as their good name's are ruined.
The troops make their way to the stadium and surround the statue. A truck with a satellite dish on the top ties a rope around the statue and begins to drive away. The statue tilts to one side as they pull it down. In the process the eyeglasses come off the statue, falling to the ground and shattering beside the black shoes.
That's when the dream begins to turn a little, I remember the black shoes. Running away from this fog, I run toward the light and clarity of reason and put the worldwide leader in sports behind me, and punch out the rear view mirrors.
As I run away from the fog, my vision gets pulled to notice Cael Sanderson, facing away from me and kneeling toward Cari Greene. He is offering her a ring that his great-grandmother wore for 48 years. Before my attention turns elsewhere I see Cari mouth the words 'I do'.
And then BSCaff comes out of nowhere and pins Sanderson in to submission. As I run off, I see Sanderson, carrying his new bride over his shoulder, mouth the words toward BSCAFF, 'you were better than me'. And BSCAFF mouths 'get off my lawn'.
As I float away I mouth the words 'oh my God...dude'.
So this is where the dream gets very scary, just before I wake up.
A chorus of schoolgirls begins to dominate my attention. After a couple of seconds, I realize that these are the same kids who were jumping rope in the Freddy Krueger movies. Their song was similar to the movies' theme song but slightly different. They said...one two he's coming for you...three four better lock your door...five six hide your championships...seven eight no more bowl game dates.
That's when I see him. He's hideous. His black and red striped shirt, and knife-like fingernails could not overshadow the torture that it was to look at his face. Mark Emmert. Some who looked straight into his eyes were turned to stone and others were turned to pillars of salt. My eyes were cast into the distance, far far away as his hands went through my pockets.
And this is when I normally wake up in a lukewarm, comfortable sweat. There is no fog. My inner-peace, contentment in life, and overall satisfaction are intact. Nothing of meaning has been taken; I am whole.
The birds wake me from my sleep. The sun is lighting my bedroom from a very slanted angle. I remember that my experience in being a PSU football fan was not ruined by the actions of an angry, mis-guided mob. It re-affirmed to me that the character demonstrated by the men on the football team and the coaching staff mean more to me than wins, bowl games, and championships. The character of the young men on the football team was a demonstration of what success with honor is all about. It had survived the passing of its founder.
The degree on my wall has not been negated, Spaniers' singature and all. The knowledge, experience, and time spent at PSU was still as valuable to me now as it was before IT happened. Those who felt that they should penalize me for IT took away from me what was least important. The championships, the bowl games, the accolades for things that I personally did not accomplish.
They left the college experience, the top notch education, the ability to play in front of 100,000 fans for the current players. While nothing should have been taken from them, they were given the chance to show their integrity and commitment, their maturity and fullness in character.
The angry mob wanted this team to be used to shame us, but it had only given the team the opportunity to make us more proud of them than we ever thought we could be. They took away from us what they thought we wanted most. We didn't skip a beat. They were wrong. We are a group of people who aspire to more than we are asked. We are a group who will pursue success in an honorable way. We are...Penn State.