“Paterno” Excerpts Show Glimpses of his Worst Days

Last summer, Joe Paterno invited Joe Posnanski, a former senior writer at Sports Illustrated, to come to State College and spend the 2011 season writing a book about his life.

Then, in November, all hell broke loose…

GQ has posted a few short excerpts of the book on the publication’s website. The full preview will be published on Monday, a day before the novel’s release. “Paterno” is set to hit shelves this Tuesday, and can be pre-ordered here.

The brief excerpts from GQ, which give us a glimpse of Paterno during the worst days of his life, can be found below:

Paterno’s son, Scott, reads the grand jury case against Sandusky for the first time:

Scott Paterno was the first in the family to understand that the Pennsylvania grand jury presentment that indicted Jerry Sandusky could end his father’s career. This wasn’t surprising; Scott tended to be the most realistic—or cynical, depending on who you asked—in the family. He had run for Congress and lost and along the way tasted the allure and nastiness of public life. He had worked as a lawyer and as a lobbyist. He would sometimes tell people, “Hey, don’t kid yourself, I’m the asshole of the family.” When Scott read the presentment, he called his father and said, “Dad, you have to face the possibility that you will never coach another game.”

As the Sandusky scandal explodes, the Paterno family hires a high-powered PR specialist, Dan McGinn, to help navigate the storm:

This is when McGinn learned just how far Paterno’s influence and reputation had fallen. He asked [family adviser Guido] D’Elia for the name of one person on the Penn State board of trustees, just one, whom they could reach out to, to negotiate a gracious ending. D’Elia shook his head.

“One person on the board, that’s all we need,” McGinn said.

D’Elia shook his head again. “It began in 2004,” he whispered, referring to an old clash Paterno had with [university president Graham] Spanier. “The board started to turn. We don’t have anybody on the board now.”

That’s when McGinn realized that this was going to be the worst day of Joe Paterno’s professional life.

At Paterno’s house the day after he is fired via late-night telephone call from the Penn State board of trustees:

On Thursday, Paterno met with his coaches at his house. He sobbed uncontrollably. This was his bad day. Later, one of his former captains, Brandon Short, stopped by the house. When Brandon asked, “How are you doing, Coach?” Paterno answered, “I’m okay,” but the last syllable was shaky, muffled by crying, and then he broke down and said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.” Nobody knew how to handle such emotion. Joe had always seemed invulnerable. On Thursday, though, he cried continually.

“My name,” he told Jay, “I have spent my whole life trying to make that name mean something. And now it’s gone.”

Posnanski was one of the few people that had access to Paterno during those final months. His story could be the last true insight at the end of a life that few in the public truly know.

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Ryan Beckler

Ryan is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He is a Lion Ambassador who loves giving tours to prospective students. His favorite activities include distributing news and consuming Chipotle.

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