The sports world was shocked in November when charges were brought against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for numerous counts of improper relations with minors. It only got worse the more we learned as the evidence against Sandusky mounted. We were left with the question of how this could be allowed to happen for so long. Why didn’t anyone stop it? With the release of the Freeh Report today, now we know there is plenty of blame to go around, but the biggest culprit is the football-first culture that permeated Penn St. A culture that former Nittany Lion linebacker Matt Millen has given a voice to.
Now an ESPN analyst, Millen was trotted out on Sportscenter in the wake of the report to give his thoughts. Spoiler: they were terrible. Millen refuses to lay blame on the football program or Joe Paterno even now. He referred to the Penn St. program as “pristine” and felt that Paterno “made a mistake,” but that it shouldn’t hurt the coach’s legacy. In short, the football more than makes up for the abuse, according to Millen.
That mindset is the very thing that allowed this terrible tragedy to happen. It’s that kind of thinking that allowed a man to continue to abuse children for years after being caught. This is the kind of culture that led a football program, and it’s patriarch Joe Paterno, to cover up the abuse and turn a blind eye to the victims, as long as it didn’t hurt the program. This wasn’t a football team, it was a mob family protecting its own.
This isn’t the first time that ESPN has used Matt Millen for reaction on Penn St. news. When the scandal broke and Joe Paterno was unceremoniously fired, Millen went on camera and broke down in tears defending his coach. Now, he’s doing it again, but looking so much worse for it with all the things we now know.
Matt Millen is delusional about the state of his alma mater. Ignoring the mountain of damning evidence against Penn St. and Joe Paterno in the organized cover-up of a child abuser on the staff for the sake of winning football games to continue being a good soldier for the program is sad and depressing…and the exact thing that got us here.
So Matt Millen, you are wrong. Your beloved Nittany Lions were not a “pristine ” program and Joe Paterno’s legacy will now be that he covered up child abuse in his own house. This wasn’t just a “mistake,” it was a conscious choice to think of the image of a football program before the safety and welfare of a child. And that choice will always be wrong no matter how many football games you won.
You can follow me on Twitter @Teeblerone and Rant Sports @RantSports