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.