Which Memory Will You Choose?

Ever since the recent news of the Jerry Sandusky controversy at Penn State and Joe Paterno’s involvement, it seems like there’s a significant divide between those that still revere Paterno and those that now despise him. With his death, it appears as though most people (especially in the Pennsylvania area) still look upon Paterno as the perfect man, a legacy that will become timeless. Meanwhile, there are people like me that prefer to look at his decision to enable Sandusky to rape young boys by not coming to authorities about these crimes.

I have a friend that was a transplanted Pennsylvanian that briefly lived in Minnesota. As I follow him on Twitter, I sometimes hear about their sports news more than I care about. One of these things were all the well-wishes being said about Paterno after he died yesterday. With that, it shocked me. How could all these people be blind or ignorant to what he did, or perhaps more appropriately, did not do?

Then I had a thought, and another person popped into my consciousness – a man that was a hero to me when I was growing up. A man that himself had his public image do a 180 in some people’s eyes, right before his sudden death.

That man is Kirby Puckett.

Kirby, a man that helped bring home the only two World Series titles the Twins have ever seen. A man that I took a liking to immediately, simply because the Metrodome crowds always cheered the loudest for him and Bob Casey always said his name with the most flair. A man that was charged with sexual assault after his retirement.

To some, Puckett was a sex offender. But to many Twins fans, he will be remembered as the heart and soul of many Twins teams. After all, he has been honored with a Target Field gate named after him, and there is a statue of him on Target Plaza. Clearly most of us were willing to ignore what he did after he retired.

I’m still not going to pay my respects to Joe Paterno, and yet I’m okay with Kirby Puckett. It’s tough to change my mind when I had no emotional ties to one, and the other was my childhood hero, and well, that makes me a hypocrite.

After reading this, I bet some of you are hypocrites as well.

Note: After discussions with the Pennsylvania friend I mentioned above, I’d like to point out that the comments on Paterno’s involvement in the case are not entirely true, but are rather my interpretations of the incident. That’s what bias can do to you.

14 Responses to “Which Memory Will You Choose?”

  1. TT Says:

    For Kirby Puckett’s reputation as a baseball player to be tarnished you would have to find that he did something wrong as a player. That he gambled on baseball or threw games for instance.

    Paterno, as head coach, turned a blind eye to a child molester. Apparently to avoid embarrassment to his program. Its not that he did something outside of his role of coach. Its that he failed basic requirements of decency as a coach.

  2. TT Says:

    “Clearly most of us were willing to ignore what he did after he retired.”

    To be clear. I am not willing to ignore it. I am willing to separate what he did as a player from what he became as a human being. You don’t have to choose between “sex offender” and “heart and soul of the Twins teams”. He was both at different times.

  3. jbiowa Says:

    For me, Kirby Puckett’s memory is far more tarnished than Joe Paterno’s.

    Puckett acted — and not in a positive way.

    As far as I can tell, Paterno “failed” by not going to the police or by not following up on McQueary’s complaint. I have not found anything that indicated he told McQueary not to go to the police or that he told McQueary to hush it up. I also haven’t seen anything that said he told the administrators to hush it up. From everything I have read, his “sin” was one of omission not commission.

    I hope that if you reach the age of 85, you won’t have any of those regrets. I’m in my mid-50’s and have several of them already — there are several instances where I wish I had done “more”. No, none of those instances involved the molestation of children but they are regrets nonetheless.

    It is very easy to say that you would have acted differently given what we know now. But would you really have acted differently if you were a 75-year old who was given only a general description of what had happened and when you were no longer Sandusky’s boss? Or would you, like Paterno, have “passed the buck” to an administrator to deal with? (My late father was almost the same age as Paterno and was also a deeply Christian man. I can envision him taking exactly the same actons as Paterno and, with the benefit of hindsight, having exactly the same regrets.)

    Paterno actions in life far outweigh his sin of omission. I believe that history will treat him far more kindly than today’s media.

  4. thrylos98 Says:

    Ok. I live in PA. And I do not care about Penn State sports. And I am not going to pass judgement here, just relate the legal facts:
    – Paterno was a State of PA employee, so were his bosses.
    – Per State Law, he was obligated to call the Police when sexual allegations against minors (in State property mind you) were brought to his attention.
    – He didn’t. He just mentioned it to his bosses. They did nothing.
    – So he and them did not only act illegally (which cost them their jobs, but should have also had land them in jail.)
    – They allowed a child molester to continue his act.
    – The PA climinal law system was too lenient for Paterno; however, his estate is liable for everything that happened after that particular incident, so…. this story is not over.

    And that’s the legaleese…
    and comparing that (and crimes against children) with what Puckett allegedly did (he was not convicted) is comparing apples and pineapples.

  5. Pork Chop Guy Says:

    Great local analogy. You have to remember both the good and the bad Unfortunately our sports heroes often disappoint us.
    I can throw in my version since I grew up in NY – Lawrence Taylor.

    I was amazed at how many people mourned
    Michael Jackson. People (in general) want to remember the good things. No matter how many ways you want to defend it, when it counted most, Paterno failed at protecting a child. Imagine how you would feel about Paterno if that was your kid, or if Kirby treated your sister like that.

  6. Bryz Says:

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone. Apologies for not having all of the facts straight, but this is the one part that you all should take away from it, regardless:

    I am not pleased with Paterno not reporting the incidents to the cops, I am okay with Puckett, and I’m indifferent to Michael Jackson. Excellent consistency there. *rolls eyes*

    • Pork Chop Fan Says:

      Does anyone want 4 free Twins Fest tickets today?
      Just need to confirm with me that I still have them before you promise them to anyone.
      I can email the tickets.

  7. Mr. Truth Says:

    Hey, aren’t you the dick who reports to facebook anyone who is critical of the Twins? Yep, that’s you!!

    • Andy Says:

      No that’s me.

    • Bryz Says:

      Going right to name calling? Ah, you seem familiar.

      No, I’m the dick that doesn’t appreciate it when people use the safety of their computers to attack someone else, especially when it’s for their disability. I don’t care if he is autistic and has been a hassle, you all have been acting like children. Actually, worse than children.

      You can keep posting on my blog if you choose. But I’ll let you know one thing. I’m not scared. I won’t back down.

  8. Narcs Blow Says:

    So then you are that gutless Dick! Congrats on being a power mad thread Nazi you worthless hack.

    • Bryz Says:

      More name-calling? You must be from the Twins group as well. I’m amused both of you went to the simple bro word, “dick.” I’m glad to see you and Mr. Truth were educated long enough to compile such a vast vocabulary.

      You guys are pissed because I ruined your little Twins “discussion” right? Well, it’s odd because I never had an issue with you guys talking negatively about the Twins. This “discussion” you claimed you were having involved attacking a guy with autism. That’s why you were reported.

      Man up and leave him alone. But if you’re going to continue to act like scum of all humanity, then you should know that you’re not going to win.

  9. Going Beyond Sports « Off The Mark Says:

    [...] those that were harassing Tim, I see that some of you have found my blog. Mr. Truth and Narcs Blow, welcome to Off The Mark. By the way, I’m glad to see one of you [...]

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