I went through all 198 pages of the 2013 Penn State football media guide and I saw just two pictures, 8 mentions of Joe Paterno. And the PSU SID referenced Paterno only when they absolutely had to. I’m guessing you already know how many mentions of Jerry Sandusky and The Second Mile are in the Penn State football history book.
This shows you that the Penn State football program is doing the right thing in damage control. They’re accepting the NCAA sanctions and moving on; while the “JoeBots” and “Joe Paterno was framed” subset of Nittany Nation still refuses to accept reality. This cadre of Penn State football fans still tries to overturn reality while the actual PSU players are instead working within it.
PSU Safety Malcolm Willis has a solid message.
When it comes to Media Day, you bring the best who will represent your school to the utmost. At Big Ten Media Day, each school brought the three players who are the best in media relations and when possible also the stars of the team. Maybe both when possible. Basically, it’s the top character guys. Penn State football was represented by OL John Urschel, who had the distinguished position of giving the keynote address at the league luncheon, LB Glenn Carson and Safety Malcolm Willis.
I didn’t get the opportunity to speak with Urschel about the program’s recovery from the pedophilia scandal/sanctions, and Carson didn’t offer anything print-worthy in his responses, but Willis assessed it quite well.
“We have a metaphor. We’re on a train, and there are various stops. A year ago was a crazy stop on our train ride,” Willis said,
“After we had our meetings about who was going to stay and who was going to leave, we talked about moving the train forward. We’re still on that train and we need everybody on board. Each game and each practice is a stop on that train.”
So what do you tell the holdouts so that they can get on board?
“The only thing we do tell people is we’re moving forward, why can’t you? The people who were actually affected by what happened and actually suffering the consequences for it, speaking of the football team and the football program- we’re trying to move forward so why can’t everybody else? That’s how we try to get out to the community and get people to get past what happened,” Willis continued.
That’s probably the most important soundbite of the media days; and it coincidentally came from the guy who was probably the best dressed too. The message from Malcolm Willis is one that should be heeded by the lunatic fringes within Nittany Nation.
Obviously, “the people who were actually affected by what happened and actually suffering the consequences for it” are first and foremost the actual victims of Jerry Sandusky. Their welfare and their concerns trump that of the Penn State football program, but it’s not Willis’ place to speak on their behalf. It’s his responsibility to speak on behalf of the Penn State football program; nothing more. And he does a fine job of doing so. I’m sure the leading member of the PSU secondary knows that the team’s attitude about this situation is secondary to the victims of that monster.
But Willis is still a good ambassador. For those Penn State football fans still seeking to redeem Joe Paterno; they’re better off following the word of their star defensive back Malcolm Willis.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, a Fox Sports affiliate. He is also an analyst for 95.7 The Fan, and writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows his Twitter account (@paulmbanks).