Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Modest Proposal of an (In)sane Theory

I’m normally not much of a conspiracy nut because, for the most part, I tend to gravitate toward reasoned argument over, well, nuttiness. I think Oswald shot Kennedy, Armstrong actually landed on the moon, and Jordan really was just burnt out on basketball in 1994 (well, not really with that last one). I have a lot of gripes with the media not doing their due diligence, but I tend to think that we are getting a reasonable facsimile of truth. But I have a doozy of a conspiracy, and I believe it enough to at least bother writing about it. Get ready because I’m about to blow your collective mind.

I think Joe Paterno faked his own death.

Think about it. No, really think about it. Practically sainted coach gets dragged down in massive scandal in which he either perjured himself or at the very least misled investigators about his place in an institutional cover-up. University fires coach and commissions report to investigate said scandal/cover-up. Coach dies merely days after his firing, practically amid a vigil of his own supporters. Months later news of cover-up is released and it’s much more damning than we thought (but the coach would have known what was coming).

Now I know what you’re saying, that Joe Paterno was older than man itself. He coached football before football was football, you protest. He even had cancer (or so we have been led to believe). And you’re right, because it seems totally logical that an 85-year-old with cancer would die pretty quickly after being publicly stripped of the one thing that kept him going. That’s the genius of this. No one would ever suspect it, and the media would never probe deep enough to find out.

Consider: Joe Paterno saw the writing on the wall when he was first interrogated by the Grand Jury about Sandusky and he renegotiated the retirement clause in his contract to better take care of himself and his family post-coaching life. Whether he was worried because he knew this scandal would out or that he would be in added trouble for misleading investigators (“I’ve never heard of rape and a man.”), we do not know. But he was certainly savvy enough to know that the facade was fast crumbling.

If Paterno lives long past the end of his coaching, we get an entire final chapter instead of the truncated ending that played out. We see him investigated under oath, almost certainly publicly dragged into a courtroom. He’d be in a position to have to defend his action (actually, inaction) and there’s really no way to spin that. He could even have plausibly faced jail time. Imagine if he were alive to see his statue torn down. How is that not the indelible image of Paterno’s career?

Paterno was the ultimate tactician, and that extended especially to his own legacy. After his death, Paterno’s supporters could shift blame to the University for essentially killing him (HE ONLY LIVED TO COACH!) and firing him in a classless manner. By dying, he essentially martyred himself, insulating his legacy as much as possible. It’s certainly been sullied by the findings of the Freeh report, which again, he would have known were coming, but people are generally kinder to a dead man than a living one. By dying, he shifted and diffused blame. But I don’t think he’s dead.

I think he's alive somewhere, with his renegotiated millions and clandestine access to the PSU jet, safely away from the prying eyes of investigators, wishing he would have done more to stop Sandusky (both for the sake of the children and his own legacy). I think Paterno knew that faking his own death was the only logical decision.

Also, Tupac and Biggie are both dead.

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