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Paterno Insists He Knew of No Prior Sandusky Allegation in Complete Posnanski Excerpt From GQ

by on August 15, 2012 11:50 PM

Nebraska. All Joe Paterno thought about when his son, Scott, repeatedly asked him what he knew about Jerry Sandusky’s inappropriate contact with children was the next game on the schedule. Nebraska.

This comes from the full excerpt of Joe Posnanski’s soon-to-be-released biography, “Paterno,” set to hit bookshelves Tuesday. GQ released teasers of the excerpt online Wednesday. Spend $5 for the magazine, and you get the full text before it's posted online Monday, including the complete scene when Scott reads the grand jury report for the first time, understands the gravity of the charges could end his father’s career and presses his dad for information about any other episode of Sandusky’s deviate acts other than the 2001 shower incident involving Mike McQueary.

“I didn’t hear anything, why are you badgering me? What do I know about Jerry Sandusky? I’ve got Nebraska to think about, I can’t worry about this.”

“I had to do everything I could to not cry right then,” Scott recalled.

Headlines exploded Wednesday with the image of Paterno uncontrollably sobbing the day after he was fired by phone. Left out is that Paterno was more jovial the following day. The tears were gone; he was thankful for his grandchildren, wife, Sue, and life spent coaching football at Penn State for nearly 46 years.

Other highlights from the excerpt, all via GQ:

  • Paterno knew 2011 was going to be his final season but kept that decision private for three reasons. 1. Nobody needed to know. 2. He did not want a grand farewell tour throughout the season. 3. He may have second thoughts and decide to keep coaching beyond 2011.
  • Former university president Graham Spanier visited Paterno in his home, sat at his kitchen table and read his statement that granted “unconditional support” for Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, two PSU officials charged with perjury in connection with the Sandusky scandal. Paterno thought the statement would do more harm than good. Four days later, both Paterno and Spanier lost their jobs.
  • Paterno did not read the grand jury report until two days after it was released, and it was this heated exchange between Paterno and family adviser Guido D’Elia that led to Paterno reading.

“You realize that the people out there think you knew about this? They think you had to know because you know about everything.”

“That’s their opinion!” Paterno shouted. “I’m not omniscient!”

“They think you are!” D’Elia roared back.

According to D’Elia’s recollection of watching Paterno read the presentment, the former coach asked Scott, “What is sodomy, anyway?”

  • Members of the Paterno family and friends prepped the coach for his scheduled Tuesday news conference before it was canceled. The night before, the university sent out a press release saying all questions would be limited to football-only topics, but Paterno said he was never included in that decision.

Posnanski, the former Sports Illustrated scribe, gained unfiltered access to Paterno during his final season and up through his final days before his death Jan. 22.

His book is one of the most highly anticipated in its genre, in large part because of the controversy surrounding the coach in the wake of the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and university-commissioned Freeh Report, which, contrary to Paterno's grand jury testimony and words in the above excerpt and a previous interview with the Washington Post, concluded he knew about a 1998 allegation against Sandusky and helped conceal the former defensive coordinator's abuse out of fear of bad publicity for the university.

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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