Overheard on CNN.com: 'If you didn't go to Penn State, you wouldn't understand'
Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has died, his family confirmed Sunday. He was 85, and is seen here in 1988.
January 24th, 2012
06:12 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 'If you didn't go to Penn State, you wouldn't understand'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Many of our readers are having a hard time reconciling the legacy of Joe Paterno, who died Sunday at the age of 85. The late Penn State coach took criticism for his response to allegations against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant. We heard from many supporters as well as many who were outraged.

Mourners line up to pay respects to Joe Paterno

This commenter, along with many others, was critical of Paterno.

joeyshmoey: "He was the head coach. He made all decisions as to who was his coaching staff. He looked the other way and kept this monster on his coaching staff. Winning was more important then the lives of those kids. How can you justify continuing to work with the guy for so long. ..."

Some readers said Paterno was taking too much blame for the Sandusky case.

atomicwaste: "Those that JoePa worked for killed him. If any of those clowns would have done the right thing JoePa would be alive today. JoePa told his boss and his boss told his boss and nobody did squat. JoePa was innocent of any crime. JoePa's mistake was trusting his bosses to do the right thing. May JoePa rest in peace and may his bosses never have peace."

The following comment references a popular sentiment among Penn State fans. There is a Facebook group named similarly.

inmyopinion8: "As the article said, if you didn't go to Penn State, you wouldn't understand. Also, you disgusting hypocrites need to shut your mouths. It's laughable how all of these so called Christians are saying it is wrong to mourn the death of Joe. All I have to say is, it doesn't matter one bit what you think, it's all about what the Big Man Upstairs thinks, and he is way more forgiving than you ... If this wasn't censored I would have a whole lot more to say to you. Absolutely disgusting."

knowthat: "That is the problem. People in the Penn State bubble don't get it, and the rest of the world does. Take away football and Penn State, and all you have is an old man who allowed children to be continued to be abused. I only cry for the victims that could have been spared had your beloved Joe done the right thing."

Some said we need to change our criteria for selecting role models.

blade329: "I don't want to disrespect the deceased too much, but it sickens me how guys like this are idolized and worshiped. He was a freaking football coach. I have more respect for the nameless EMT's in my city who save lives everyday. He won football games and he brought in tons of money for the school. Yet, he had more power than the top officials at the University. Is that really worthy of such hero worship? No. Everyone points to all the money he donated to improving the school. Oooh...Ahhhh. Yeah, it was done with money that he was paid for by the school."

Some thought Penn State is engaging in hypocrisy.

FixedAngle: "Penn State fires the guy and now they are beatifying him. The epitome of disingenuousness. This is all about trying to win back disenchanted alumni. Sadly, it will probably work."

Midnitejax: "I concur! It's damage control. Backstabbers have no ethics. They rode on Paterno's back and raked in the money and watched the campus grow into the powerhouse it is from his hard work. What a bunch of weasels."

RaynJay: "Nah, they are just trying to make a big deal over someone whose statue they can't be bothered moving off the campus grounds. That sense of apathy was true of him too."

Some felt criticism of Paterno is inappropriate.

coronaboy: "RIP. JoePa was an exemplary man who led by example. He lived 85 years of dedication to his faith, his career and his family. Those people who criticize him are uninformed and sanctimonious, and that includes the group of abused Catholics. Their problem is the church, not Joe Paterno. Coach Paterno did not abuse anyone and when he was told about an incident reported it to the campus police. he did not hide anything, he escalated it. What happened after that is not good, but Joe did not cause that."

Mike McQueary, former assistant football coach, was also a target for some commenters.

hope4now: "At what point are you people going to realize that he violated no one. He wasn't told the entire story and he went to his superiors. Let's not forget his age at the time. Frankly, why did a 28-year-old man (McQueary) see (alleged abuse) and not intervene then and there? For me, that is the hot question. The Penn State Police were notified. Why did they sit back? Why did the trustees and Joe's superiors sit back? There is a whole lot of blame going on, but I think it rests with the assistant coach. He could have stopped the whole mess that night and he didn't talk to Joe that night he called his dad. Really people! This man made some phone calls he called his boss and his boss did nothing."

The photo on the story, included here, was a topic of conversation.

cooldude2011: "The above picture of Joe Paterno is so appropriate. Those are not sunglasses - those are blinders! Those blinders helped him filter out and block any images of completely preventable child abuse. See no evil."

Others came to the defense of Paterno.

dd31987: "This man was an iconic legend. Aside from being the greatest coach in NCAAF history, he was also a mentor, educator and solider. The board of trustees should be ashamed of themselves for the way they handles this situation. Paterno took this swamp university and it turned into a powerhouse, not just athletics wise, but academically as well. May he rest in peace. ... I'm just ashamed for this country when I see trolls on here saying some awfully disgusting things. The man just died; have some respect for the life he lived. This man dedicated his life to a university that was nothing less than a swamp when he first took over. This is a man who served our country in WWII, attended an ivy league school, preached education and change the lives of thousands of students with his support and words of wisdom. How often do we see a man like Joe Paterno with all his wealth give back so much to one university? Or drive the same for almost 30 years? Or live in an average-sized ranch for almost 45 years? He was a humble human and was by far Penn State's greatest ambassador. Best of luck, Joe! You truly were a hero!"

But what is a hero?

somfincute: "Just teaching boys to run around a field with a ball does not make someone a hero. A real hero would have done everything in his power (which this man had a lot of) to stop the child rapist. A hero would not have been able to still look at and be around that monster. Why does the love of football make people so blind?"

This commenter said Paterno wasn't a perfect man, but he was human.

drt0800: "I had to see what people were saying about this and as expected, there was the Paterno faithful and a bunch of asses whining ... the usual CNN crowd. The man died ... he wasn't a god and he wasn't a saint. He also wasn't evil, mean spirited or a bad man ... he was just a man. Do you really have to worship or complain? Can't you just feel for his family who lost a husband and a father?"

What do you think about Paterno's legacy? Do you have memories? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Ma Griffe

    The flawed thinking is that everyone has convicted JoePa based on raw emotion and a natural instinct to punish somebody for what these boys endued.........when it was SANDUSKY who committed them. That stupid silly minded people would brandish the whole state of Pennsylvania and by extension Penn State as the capitol of Pedolilia is flawed thinking, and totally unfair to those who attended Penn and who live in Pennsylvania. This man just died. None of you know anything about him, and yet you all are so quick to judge.....thank god none of you can sit in judgement of anyone, because judges have to follow the letter of the law, and not what you may personally hate. What's not to understand? How about innocent until proven guilty? And as he wasn't charged with anything, he died innocent. But the people whowant bloo

    January 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      THANK YOU........ He didn't commit a crime..... He didn't personally see a crime being committed .... another person actually saw it..... but nobody knows his name....right?????

      Let Joe R.I.P... now

      January 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mmmmm ♔♕

    ....gov mitch daniels, gop response, has no credibility either!

    January 24, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Prince Matchabelli

      Have to agree with you there!

      January 25, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff Frank ( R - OHIO ) "Яight Wing Иutcase"

    Overheard on CNN.com: "If you didn't go to Penn State, you wouldn't understand"

    Is that what the adolescent victims were told?

    January 25, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Prince Matchabelli

      Another gut reaction from a rebel without a clue. Let's ask the adolescent boys who abused them, shall we? Bet they don't say a dead man did it. But the blame squarely where it belongs, and not the man who put Penn on the map just because he was the bestuknown figure.

      January 25, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. @Princess (tryand) Matchyourbelly

    Joe Paterno was all about football. When he found-out he had a flamer working for him, it was a HUGE distraction. He didn't have the time to deal with any bi-se xual freak like Sandusky. And who wanrnts thir head coach sick at his stomach all day? Nauseated. Scratching his head wondering what makes a man want to hump on another male. "Dang Jerry, you have a wife for God's sake. What in the world has you lusting to hump males?" RIP Joe Paterno. Sorry you were exposed to that freak..

    January 25, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Whaaaaaaaaaat?

      Princess, you know all of this......how? By looking in the mirror?

      January 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tingle

      You're flat-out-straight-up weird. Do you react this way to every opinion...making fun of their name? Are you in need of some meds? And your reading skills suck. That's P R I N C E.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. @sir contemptable

    if you clog your arteries with as much bs as you clog the blogs with, ur a heart attack waiting to happen. you need to get laid.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tingle

      W T hell? Is everyone nuts on this thread?

      January 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tingle

    We're exposed to freaks all the time. Some are freakier than others.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pete

    Did anybody look at the facts, if I'm correct the Sandusky guy was not on the sidelines with Paterno,or even on his staff when this supposedly took place. The people who allowed him the use of Penn State facilities are still on the board, how come no one talks on them

    January 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hecate

      A scapegoat is a scapegoat is a scapegoat. Facts are not an issue when someone wants to tar and feather a dead man....

      January 25, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
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