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Joe Posnanski: Paterno Book Not the Final Word on Scandal

by on September 14, 2012 7:45 PM

Speaking to several hundred people inside of the Hub-Robeson Center Alumni Hall, writer Joe Posnanski answered questions and discussed the various hurdles that came during the writing of his recently released book about the life of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

Posnanski recalled the process of getting final approval to write the book in Nov. 2010.

"Finally, the people around Joe said, 'If you want to write the book, Joe isn't going to stop you,' " he said. Posnanski's talk was a part of a moderated conversation by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. 

The book "Paterno," which made its debut at the top of the New York Times bestsellers' list, has seen both positive and negative reviews, based mainly on the perception that the book was not hard enough on the former coach's role in the alleged cover-up of longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

"My goal was to present the facts to you, the reader," Posnanski said. "I didn't want to leave out facts, there is information in the book both good and bad. It's what I call an inconvenient fact, something that goes against a notion that may be left out of a story because it counters an argument."

Perhaps the most interesting part of the evening came when Posnanski spoke of how he obtained Paterno's personal files.

"The family told me to come over to the house, they had an old, old, travel bag sitting on the floor and they tell me that it was for me. It's a big bag, it's huge. Sue says, 'this is for you, Joe wanted you to have it,' and I said 'that's great, what is it?' 'They're his personal files.'

"I took it home with me and put it on the table, it was so heavy, and I opened it up and there were notes, scraps, photos, hundreds of pages of files from throughout his career. It was a treasure trove."

Posnanski took questions from the audience that ranged from the writing process of the book to Joe Paterno's possible reaction to the NCAA sanctions. Posnanski spoke strongly against the conclusions of the university-commissioned Freeh Report saying that to have that be the final word was a "travesty, but it should still be part of the conversation."

"The report was incomplete, it was a lot like writing a book about 'The Beatles' without interviewing 'The Beatles.' I've been around the country on book tours and I think the conversation is slowly changing."

As far as Posnanski's next book, it will be "easier," he said laughing.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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