Love and Loyalty
The most personally satisfying way for me to approach this blog is to tear Sara Ganim apart. Because it’d feel good and I could do it very well and she deserves it. That's how I began writing on Sunday, venom pouring from my fingers. My head exploding on paper into three pages worth of up one side and down the other.
This morning I watched Penn State Football’s video of James Franklin’s postgame interview. I can’t say I listened to even one of his answers though because I was transfixed by his daughters in the background. Younger daughter, Addy, giving her daddy bunny ears, which older daughter, Shola, finds funny but then appears to try casually, unsuccessfully to get her sister to stop. They’re exactly as you would imagine two smart, adorable sisters trying their best to wait patiently.
And suddenly I just couldn’t. I don't want to be that person who angrily, sarcastically, yet truthfully destroys the credibility we already know Sara Ganim lacks. I don’t want to rage against Mike McQueary and his ever-changing story. I don’t want to scream at the media outlets who publish without fact checking. It would feel so good. It’d be my default mode. But today I’m choosing differently, maybe even bravely.
I hit delete because of Addy. And Shola. And my son and stepson and my nieces and nephews. And your little kids. And all the kids who will grow up to be Nittany Lions someday. I’m not that person. We are not that Penn State. We will sing of love and loyalty.
I don’t know what Sara’s motivation is for publishing a rehash of this narrative at the beginning of football season for the second year in a row. I don’t know how she reconciles betraying her alma mater. I don’t know why Mike’s versions of the 2001 incident he witnessed keep changing. I don't know why he chose not to intervene in that locker room.
Am I furious that these lies continuously resurface and not one of our leaders refutes them? Yes. Am I heartbroken that the Paternos’ good name is dragged through the mud once again? Yes. Would I rather put up my dukes and knock out every single last hater? Yes. Could I sit here and disprove Sara’s article nearly line by line with actual documented facts? Yes. At the end of the day, what does that accomplish? We are all educated on this enough to know the truth and those who aren’t, aren’t listening.
Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not advocating “moving on.” I can't stop the Saras and the Mikes or anyone else from making choices I don't like. I can only control my response. I have always been motivated by integrity and truth telling. I have always felt called to say the hard thing. This time I just don't know what to say. There's plenty of hate and anger here still and I'm not sure how to choose love.
For now, I focus my energy on following the example of the alumni who tirelessly work to reverse these erroneous reports. I email CNN and Sara Ganim and ask to see their sources. I try very, very hard to conjure up the benefit of the doubt: that we both want the truth.
And, I turn my attention back to our fearless football family. To the players who have endured a narrative they did not create nor do they deserve. To those who stayed with us and those who chose us freely. Those who show up each week, ignoring what CNN is publishing, ignoring the rivalry Pitt keeps baiting, and focusing on the task at hand. Doing the next right thing. Bringing their best against the next opponent.
And that's what we are going to do. We are going to be Penn State. We are going to go out there day after day and Saturday after Saturday and be Penn State. We bring our best and we fight on for the truth and for the win.
We are as bold as Trace McSorley rushing for 35 yards. We are as determined as Saquon Barkley marching in for a touchdown. We are as fierce as Marcus Allen tackling Pitt in their own end zone. We are as steady as James Franklin taking it one game at a time. We are courage, honesty, wisdom and strength on the field and off. We know know who we truly are. We are Penn State.