Sports Illustrated writer Joe Posnanski, who graduated from UNC Charlotte and began his journalism career at The Charlotte Observer, has been in State College, Pa., this football season working on a book on Joe Paterno.
Posnanski, who recently moved back to Charlotte, is now trying to figure out the direction his book goes after the scandal surfaces this week. I will tell you this -- he will figure out something, because Posnanski is one of the most gifted sportswriters in America. But he is wrestling this week, as so many are, with all the twists this dark story has taken.
In his SI.com blog, Posnanski explained what drew him into writing about Paterno:
"A few months ago, I began working on a book about Penn State coach Joe Paterno. I have spent the last few months living in State College, Pa. Paterno gave me permission to write the book, but plays no editorial role in it. I decided to write about Paterno for a hundred reasons, but mostly because I’m fascinated — fascinated by a 60-year coaching career, fascinated by the Grand Experiment, fascinated by his motivations and values and the apparent and interesting contradictions of his personality. There have been other books written about Paterno, good books. It seems to me that there is more to say…"
Posnanski also included his thoughts on where the book is headed and why he will hold off on writing his opinion on what's happened with Paterno this past week, writing: "I need time. This story, for me at least, needs time. This thing is so vile, so grotesque, that it is human nature to want everyone to pay. Innocent children were hurt, scarred, and as a parent this is something so horrible that I cannot even think of a penalty harsh enough. There is no way to see this thing clearly now, not for me, anyway.
"Writing about Joe Paterno is a challenge for many reasons, but probably the greatest challenge is that his personality attracts extremes. He is called saint. And he is called hypocrite. He is a hero. And he is a villain. He is real. And he is a phony. And I believe deeply that he is none of these things… it wouldn’t be much fun or a challenge to write about him if he were a simple label or a simple man. I came to State College to write about a real man. I won’t tell you anything surprising: This terrible, evil story has made it harder. But I do buy into Tom Hanks’ line about baseball. It’s supposed to be hard …"
In Posnanski's personal blog , he refered to the Sports Illustrated blog and said that's all he planned to write on the situation for now:
"I know there are people who believe that I have a responsibility to write more, to have an opinion, to come out strong, I know this because many, many people have written to tell me that in no uncertain terms.
"I respect their opinion. But I disagree with it. The way I see it: I have a responsibility to write the best, most insightful and most honest book I can possibly write about Joe Paterno. That's what I signed up for. I'm not backing down from that because of this awful, evil situation. I'm also not walking away from a life and a man. When something this horrible happens, it's hard to hear yourself think -- it's impossible for me to hear anything. I won't add to the noise. If you want to read instant and strong opinions about Penn State and Joe Paterno, I can assure you there is no shortage of howling there."