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Andy Wolfenson

Andy Wolfenson
Location
Randolph, New Jersey, United States
Birthday
December 04
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I was advised not to tell
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www.baldinglegal.com
Bio
Author of the recently released "In His Ex-Wife's Defense," as well as "Deadly Fantasy: A Baseball Story," "In His Own Defense," and "Bloggin' Baseball (from the bench)", all now available on amazon.com and Kindle. www.baldinglegal.com www.inhisowndefense.com Frustrated wanna-be sportswriter who, in his spare time from traveling from the office to other work locations and attempting to write a succession of wildly-successful novels, occasionally pens blogs about sports, the Yankees, and other topics.

Andy Wolfenson's Links

Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 8, 2011 8:29AM

The Deaths of "Smokin' Joe" and Joe Pa's Reputation

Rate: 13 Flag

                Joe Frazier and Joe Paterno. Two legends, two icons linked by their connections to their adoptive state of Pennsylvania. Two giants of their respective sports. One died yesterday at the age of 67, losing his battle to liver cancer. The other should voluntarily leave his position today, resigning under the cloud of a scandal that threatens his football program and legacy.

*****

                Smokin’ Joe Frazier was once the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, and was the first man ever to defeat Muhammad Ali in the ring. Born in South Carolina, he moved to Philadelphia and, before Rocky Balboa ever graced the silver screen, was the name and face most associated with Philadelphia boxing. He was champion during the 1970’s,  what must be considered the “golden age” of boxing during our lifetimes, an era where the heavyweight division boasted at least four bona-fide superstars: Frazier, Ali, George Foreman, and Ken Norton. While Ali was the center of the boxing universe, the other three all engaged in memorable battles with the self-proclaimed “Greatest”; none more so than Frazier. The men battled in two of the greatest fights in boxing history: 1971’s “Fight of the Century”, where Frazier beat Ali in Madison Square Garden, and the “Thrilla in Manila,” where Ali beat Frazier in 14 rounds in the Philippines.

 (1)

                The second fight was marred by Ali’s pre-fight taunting of Frazier, calling him a “gorilla” and an “Uncle Tom”. Though Frazier was articulate and intelligent, the labeling of him as a “gorilla” by the vocal, charismatic Ali led many to believe to the contrary. Frazier (and Foreman, who later gained fame as a Preacher and television salesman) became foils to Ali’s intelligent persona. Not until after his retirement did the affable Frazier emerge. He re-emerged from boxing retirement as a lounge singer, appearing in venues and strutting his moves through a memorable Miller Lite commercial. He was an ambassador for the sport, along with Foreman, especially important at a time when Ali’s Parkinson’s Disease prevented him from being a voice for the sport’s magical era.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHkqN52xqD4

                Joe Frazier died yesterday at the age of 67. He leaves behind a legacy befitting a heavyweight champion, memories of his defeat of Ali in 1971, of the brutal battle between the two in Manila, and of other memorable battles with George Foreman and others. At a time when boxing has been searching for men like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, a time when 49-year old Evander Holyfield has indicated that he wants to return to the ring and face the Klitshko brothers, who apparently hold the current boxing belts (a fact known to at least 10 people, perhaps), the passing of Joe Frazier reverberates even stronger. Farewell, Smokin’ Joe. You were one of the greatest.

*****

                Joe Paterno has been the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for half a century. “Joe Pa” is the face of the football program, and numerous Heisman Trophy winners and future NFL players have blossomed under his tutelage at what has come to be known as “Linebacker U.”

 (2)

                Originally from Brooklyn, he has made his professional home at Penn State since 1966. He is 84 years old now, and the whispers of his needing to retire have never grown into shouts despite his advanced age.

Until now.

The Penn State program has been rocked by allegations of deviant sexual conduct by one of its former assistant coaches, conduct which involved young boys and which took place in the Penn State locker room, even after that coach had retired. The Coach in question, Jerry Sandusky, joined the Penn State staff in 1969, and remained as on the staff for 30 years with Paterno, retiring in 1999 at the age of 55. From 1994 through 2008 or 2009, it is alleged, Sandusky alleged in improper sexual encounters with young boys, often at the Penn State facilities. Several of these encounters took place while he was still actively employed with the University. Others took place after he retired, but while he still enjoyed access to the football team’s facilities, including its locker room and showers.

Joe Paterno was advised of these activities as early as 2002. It is difficult to believe that he was not aware of any deviant conduct prior to that time, as there had been a police investigation into allegations involving Sandusky, in which he admitted improperly showering naked with and hugging a young boy, as early as 1998. One would think that the head coach of the program would have been notified of such conduct being perpetrated by one of his assistants, especially when University police were involved in the investigation.

But even taking Joe Pa at his word, that he did not hear of Sandusky’s conduct until 2002, is not enough to absolve him of blame in this scenario. The newspaper reports speak of Sandusky having sodomized a young boy in the locker room’s showers, an event which was witnessed by a graduate student/assistant coach. But these reports don’t really show the magnitude of the event. This is what happened, in more graphic and appropriate terms:

On March 1, 2002, a graduate student/assistant coach for the Penn State Nittany Lions, walked into the team’s locker room. He looked into the shower, where he saw former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, then in his late 40’s, shoving his dick up a 10-year old boy’s ass. Sandusky had the boy pinned against the wall of the shower. And this 20-something-year old did nothing to stop it. He did not try to help the boy. He did not ask Sandusky to stop. He simply turned and walked away. The next day, he told the most powerful man in Happy Valley, Joe Paterno, what he had seen.

                And Joe Paterno, who is now possesses the record for most wins ever by a Division I football coach, simply shrugged his shoulders, the giant shoulders upon which the fortunes of the entire Penn State football program rested, and decided that he would take no affirmative action against Sandusky for his actions. The ripped anus of a ten-year old, apparently, was not important enough to besmirch the public reputation of his beloved football program. He took his hands, the hands that had molded students at Penn State since 1966 into football players, the hands who had created Heisman Trophy winners, first round draft picks, and NFL All-Pros, and washed them of any responsibility in the matter. He simply called the Athletic Director the next day and went back to drawing x’s and o’s on the chalkboard in preparation for next fall’s football season. There is no indication that he ever followed up with anyone, including the Athletic Director, to see if the boy was OK, whatever his name was, or whether any action had been taken with respect to Sandusky.

 (3)

                This followed up a prior situation, in 2000, when a janitor saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy estimated to be between 11 and 13 years of age in those same showers. The janitor told several people what he had seen, including his supervisor, but never filed a formal report. It is difficult to fathom, however, that the powers that be in the football program never heard about the incident.

                Paterno essentially turned a blind eye to the situation. Even through the coke-bottle sized lenses in his glasses, however, he should have seen that he was the proper person to take action against Sandusky, at least with respect to the 2002 incident. His former assistant had access to the site at his discretion. This was going on under his bulbous nose. And anyone who thinks that the Athletic Director wields more power at Penn State than Joe Paterno has never followed Penn State football. Joe Paterno is Penn State. At least until this morning, that is.

                Today there will be a press conference addressing the situation. There have been resignations at Penn State, and indictments handed down against Sandusky and those who helped him to cover up his actions, including the school’s Athletic Director. Joe Paterno has not been made part of the indictment, nor does anyone expect that he will be. Nor has the University seen fit to fire Joe Paterno, presumably because he has not been criminally implicated.

                But there is a difference between legal obligation and moral obligation. Joe Paterno had a moral obligation to step in and stop Jerry Sandusky from abusing young boys. Instead, he passed off any possible obligation to the AD, and never did any follow-up whatsoever as to what may or may not have been done to stop Sandusky or to comfort the poor boy who was left in the shower to suffer additional indignities being inflicted upon him by Sandusky. At a time when the NCAA has tried to clean up its act, a time when former coach Jim Tressel is no longer patrolling the sidelines at Ohio State because he looked the other way when players of his were selling their uniforms for profit, it is inconceivable that Joe Paterno, legend or not, will be permitted to coach the Nittany Lions this weekend.

                A few days ago, one of my favorite writers, Jonathan Wolfman, posted a blog about a Florida man who was sentenced to life in prison for possessing child pornography on his computer. Many of my fellow writers agreed with that sentence, presumably based on the argument that possession of such pictures would lead to molestation. The Penn State locker room showers became a site for such molestation, as evidenced by the allegations and investigations detailing such activities from 1994 through 2008. At least eight boys were involved, although as is so often the case in circumstances like this, there are likely more who will come forward. And Joe Paterno, coaching icon, stood by and allowed and enabled one of his own, one of his assistant coaches, to engage in that very form of child molestation. Shouldn’t he be held, at least in part, accountable? Was there no moral pang of guilt which should have caused Paterno to put a stop to Sandusky’s actions? And, in a way, isn’t his permitting the molestation to continue a worse offense than a guy in Florida simply looking at pictures on a computer?

                Joe Paterno should resign his position as head football coach at Penn State today. Nobody expects him to do so, and nobody expects the University to take any action against him, especially since he is in his mid-80’s and this is the last year of his contract. These expectations, however, are as wrong as the actions which should cause such actions to be taken. To absolve Paterno of any responsibility in this matter, despite his advanced age and cultural icon-like status, is tantamount to raping those young boys in the shower all over again. And Paterno’s reputation is sullied. No amount of mea culpas can save that now. The water washing down the shower drains mixed with the tears of the young boys whose innocence was robbed from them, but did not absolve the coach of his obligations or his patent failure to step in and do what was right, by any moral compass.

                Farewell, Joe Pa’s reputation. You were one of the best. Until now.

photo credits

(1) www.espn.go.com

(2) www.thestatechamp.com

(3) www.crossingbroad.com

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I don't know how I feel abt Joe Pa resigning. Want to learn more. I will, in any case, recall him for his $4M grant to PSU in order to save its Classics Department.

Rated.
Nice summaries Andy. Smokin' Joe was certainly a force back in the day. Ali's own reputation became so much more elevated by going up against him.

As for Paterno, no doubt he did plenty of good in his time, as JW points out. But wishing away sexual abuse of minors is a pretty awful blemish, regardless of offsetting virtues.
And just to be sure this is clear, I was not in favor os life w.o parole for the 26 yr old FL guy largely bc this was the 1st time he'd ever been charged w any crime at all and bc in FL a life sentence w.o parole would be giving this fellow a far stiffer sentence than most FL murderers get. Nonetheless, I agree that Joe bears some resonsibility here and I want, as I say, to learn more and you have done me a service here. Thank you.
Abrawang, thank you. Jon, you're welcome. While there is no doubt more to learn about Paterno and what he knew or didn't know, I can't help but believe that any additional evidence will simply prove that he knew more than he has admitted to date.
Wow ...how strange is this? Not that coaches have never abused kids before...but the way this PS horror has evolved. Not only is it shocking that no one acted, but what could be even more shocking is why this horror was allowed to pass - who (what kind of person) would cover for a subordinate in such a case?
Neil and Snowden - you are both correct.

Meanwhile, Penn State just canceled Paterno's weekly press conference so we are going to have to wait to see what his public response to the situation will be.
Andy Wolfenson: stellar sports columnist.

- Kudos!
Andy, it is noteworthy that Jerry Sandusky has a book published. The title of the book is "Touched". Here is the link at Amazon [I won't make this an active link]:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1582613575/ref=sr_1_1?p=S00L&keywords=Jerry+Sandusky&ie=UTF8&qid=1320700779
Catherine - I will check it out - but I will note that the title alone has me cringing.
Joe has to go.

He hired a guy that turned out to be a pervert.

Then he fired the guy in 1999. Because he felt he was not singularly focused on the football program, but rather overly involved in his charitable foundation.

As the leader of Penn State -- he gets some of the blame.

BUT.

Paterno wasn't a cop. He wasn't directly involved. Was there clear evidence of a crime? Then where were the campus police. the community police, etc.

And just hypothetically, what if it were two male homosexuals over 18 going at it in the Penn State locker room?
My point is that I don't see Paterno as any more or less morally responsible than anyone else that potentially COULD have done something.

As the leader, he bears some responsibility for bad outcomes -- regardless of his personal involvement.

Therefore, he has to go.

Plus, he is too old.
Nick - if I am understanding what I have been reading, the police were not involved because nobody contacted them. Paterno claiming that he did what he was supposed to do legally, that is, contact the AD, does not absolve his complete avoidance of any moral responsibility.

As for your last question, it depends. If it was two players, then it would be OK. If it was a coach and a player, then it would be questionable based on the possibility of improper influence, just like with any teacher/student relationship. But we are talking about a ten-year old boy and a man in his 50's. I don't see how you can possibly equate the two.
In a world that's in dire need of the kind of leadership JoePa has seemed to provide, I am greatly saddened by his fall from grace.

That said, I am sickened by the many reports I have so far read. He has defended himself in early writings as knowing that 'something' happened. But, tell me - who has someone come report a problem to them, that is obviously "distraught over what he saw", and doesn't ask for more details? I find it incredibly hard to believe that JoePa didn't know all he needed to know that required him to go to the police.
Don't even get me started on what I think should happen to McQuery for simply walking away from what he saw. I can't help but wonder if that poor child knew he was seen, and the other adult did nothing to stop the assault.
May some healing come, even so late, to any and all of the true victims in this sad case.

(Source - Sports News article, "Sandusky on Penn State Campus As Late As Last Week.")
Andy......

http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/264787/grand-jury-report.pdf

Based on what I could stand reading in the grand-jury report, the only likely additional information will only be worse.

There are some aspects of this that smack of a rush to judgment.

But the entire thing is too morally offensive to make fine points of the well known media tendencies to over react.
I don't agree with your pairing of Joe Frazier's death with Joe Paterno's actions/ inactions with regard to the Sandusky scandal. These are separate events, and Frazier's name does not deserve to caught up in what's going on at Penn State.
Barb - agree on all counts

Nick - I don't know if I would call it a rush to judgment. The evidence that has been leaked has been pretty damning, and there were apparently whispers about Sandusky a decade ago that were never acted upon.

willie - I apologize if you believe that I have paired them incorrectly. I did so to juxtapose them against one another - clearly I did not mean any slight to Frazier.
I've been hearing some of this on the news today. I hadn't heard that someone had witnessed and walked away doing nothing. It's sickening. Doing nothing. Saying nothing to save innocent children from such a terrible thing.

I can see why you did it but I agree with littlewillie that Joe Frazier deserved his own post....
I don't think the cops should be issuing statements on moral obligations. The cops should be the last people ever issuing something like that while I realize most cops are good there are some very bad cops out there. Saying there not targeting Joe Paterno and then issuing a statement saying about him not meeting "moral obligations" that is an attack!!! Nothing should be decided before this case has been through court and a judgement has been handed down. While the man very well have abused these children the fact of the matter is that he has not been found guilty in a court yet. So in fact this should not reflect on Joe Pa. No one not the reporter of this article are anyway else no what was told to Joe. Could he have gone further but maybe based on what he was told by this student he did in fact take the right actions. This a smear campaign he should finish his season and depending on what happens then let him decide what he wants.
Andy, my comment is missing. I put one on this morning, not long after you posted it. I will say again, that I know nothing of college football, but Joe is a 190 years old, even without this, come on...., Frazier and Ali put on 3 of the best fights in "Heavyweight" history. "The Thrilla' in Minilla," may be the best in all weight classes. But, when Joe Frazier went on Howard Stern's show and other radio and newspapers, and degraded Ali's speech and made fun of his disease, he lost much respect in my eyes. But, when Ali forgave him, so did I. I know he was broke, and that just isn't right, and boxing promoters should have a clause in all contracts that a certain part of the money is put in a retirement account. From the penthouse to the poorhouse, happens to boxers far to often!
I can't BELIEVE the people trying to give JoePa a pass. What if ONE of those kids were YOUR brother, YOUR child, YOUR nephew, YOUR grandson? Wake up, people! While Ray Lewis can kill someone, and Michael Vick can torture and kill thousands of dogs, and still play (because football is our national religion now), no one can ignore, and thereby CONDONE the rape of children. It's not possible. They should have called 911. Interesting, isn't it, that the grand jury testimony came out immediately after JoPa became #1 in Division 1? How many children got raped while he was waiting for this "honor." Look, I went to Penn State. I was in the marching band. I am not taking potshots. What he did was immoral and inexcuseable. Period. He should go to jail.
P.S. - I am a HUGE football fan. But, criminals who are good at sports have to start being held accountable for their destruction. Let them play in prison.
Wren - you make excellent points. As an alum I assume that you are feeling the pain of watching this story unfold much more than the rest of us. While I question whether the information leak was directly tied to Joe Pa getting his big victory, I guess that we can't discount the possibility based on the tight time frame. It just makes the whole story even more sinister.
I really don't want Paterno to go out on such a horrible note, even if it seems obvious that ... people let things go by that shouldn't go by because of precisely that reason. He was such an institution, and... that can blind people to, ok, here's why we act right now, because otherwise it will be catastrophically bad, and then people try not to think about it. Slippery slopes. There was so much good in what he stood for, that it's just depressing to think about really, for me, and, PA had a bad week with that, and then, Frazier, well, I try to stay on the positive sometimes too, but, as to Paterno, well, this is why people need to be eased out sometimes, because then things can be dealt with that wouldn't be otherwise.
Don - unfortunately it is a horrible note of his own creation - he is being held accountable for his own inactions - not the sexual assaults perpetrated by Sandusky, but by his refusal to do what was morally right or to alert the proper authorities, likely due to his fear of losing his program. The ironic part is that he will lose the program now, and will be scarred forever by his own inactions, not just the actions of his subordinate.
Not to act in the face of evil is to act.

The Church provides an unfortunate parallel, with Sandusky in the role of a sexual predator-priest and Paterno his all-too-understanding (and self-protective) bishop. The institution, the bishop says, must be protected at all costs. Look at all the good we've done over the years!

The fate of an innocent boy stands as nothing against such odious, self-justifying behavior.
Paterno in italian, easily enough, means paternal....if this parody of a man had any understanding of its significance he would have not only told the police, but kicked the shit out of the vermin of a man that preyed on defenseless children....fry him!!
Jeremiah - the parallel is unfortunate, but is spot-on. And it begs the question of the definition of "institution" - was it Penn State, or Joe Paterno himself?

Roberto - I was with you until the last two words. That's a bit too extreme for me.

Thank you both for reading and for your comments.
There seems to me to be a great deal of steam behind the "Joe has got to go" crowd to try and convict Paterno in the court of public opinion at least as much because some have wanted Paterno out of PSU football for quite a few years as well as whatever his involvement in this scandal might be. Paterno was not indicted for anything, not even listed, a la Nixon in the Watergate indictments, as an "unindicted co-conspirator". The indictment clearly indicates that Paterno met with the AD and the VP in charge of the campus police force and informed them of what he knew. The VP in charge of the campus police force is essentially the chief of police on campus thus it would seem to me that Paterno did report it to the police. (It's worth noting that the PSU campus police is a very professional, armed police force with a close relationship with both the State College police and the PA State Police. They are not the campus security of yesteryear.)

Certainly on the basis of what's in the indictment, Sandusky appears as guilty as the day is long and the AD and VP tried to cover it up. I'm willing to concede that there's more to this than meets the eye and even that what's not apparent now could involve Paterno. But nothing that I've seen so far convinces me that Paterno carries any blame or responsibility for what went on or for covering it up.

I grew up not far from Happy Valley, went to grad school there, but the sun does not rise and set in my life based on the fortunes of PSU pointy football. (Soccer, real football, is my game.) I'm old enough to remember when Rip Engle was the coach. There's been a lot of discussion in the media the last several years about Paterno being past his prime (ya think), that he's really harming PSU football (and, by extension, Penn State itself), not making it better, etc., etc., etc. Yada-Yada-and still more Yada! As I said above, I think much of the current hue and cry stems from the desire to be rid of Paterno by any means and this scandal provides that.
It looks like I got the answer to the question that I posed to Jeremiah, above. The "institution" that they are protecting is Joe Paterno, not the school. Otherwise, there is no way that they would allow him to finish the season. Letting him go out on his own terms is tantamount to confirming his god-like, and teflon, status. And it cheapens the school.

Now - if he has the power to dictate when he will leave, even in the face of the massive cover-up that has gone on for so long, then how can anyone question whether or not he knew of everything that went on at PSU? He is the all-powerful there, and, therefore, has been the all-knowing. That is an inescapable conclusion.
For beenthere, delder, and any others who have the slightest inclination to give Paterno a pass, I invite you to look up the Grand Jury Presentment. I gagged and cried my way through it.

My original feeling was that JoePa knew more than he let on, because it just didn't pass the smell test - when someone comes to you who is very upset (Joe's wording in his first news statement was "distraught") about a shower incident between a 50 yr old man and a 10 yr old boy, you ask for more information. It's that simple, and just not believable that he would not.

Below I will quote one very mild paragraph from the grand jury presentment. Read Paterno's testimony for yourself and tell me what part of that does not constitute an obligation for immediate reporting to the police (not just your supervisor) and any other action possible for the sake of the child. (And even more horribly, the presentment writings also confirmed my fear that the child knew he had been seen - but not helped - by McQuery.)

My heart breaks for the victims here, and Paterno is not one of them!

"Joseph V. Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant's report (McQuery) at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset. Paterno called Tim Curley, Penn State Athletic Director and Paterno's immediate superior, to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."
Where is the evidence that he participated in the cover up? If he did, then like Curley and Schultz, he should have been indicted. The Center County DA, Stacy Parks-Miller, is not the type of person to shy away from controversy and likely would have sought an indictment of Paterno if she felt she had the evidence. If I had to bet, I'd say that Paterno offered his resignation to the PSU board to remove himself as a lightning rod that would further damage the university rather than the Board telling him he had to resign at the end of the season.
Evidence is trickling out; so we don't know the full scope of what went on since the 2002 incident. In my business we use the word "allegedly" when describing our client's actions, sometimes people use the word even in the face of cold, hard evidence. But here, it is clear that he knew about something and did not take what must be considered prudent or "moral" action. And even if he did not actively participate in a cover-up, it took place under his watch. In cases like this, shit flows upward. He must be held partially accountable, and the University should take action on its behalf now to keep him from the sidelines, not permit him to determine his own fate.
Andy - sorry but "fry him" was in the italian sense as "boot him out", in Italy we don't sentence anybody to fry even in the most hideous of crimes
saluti
Roberto - mea culpa - Il mio italiano non è buona.
Paterno, Sandusky, priests, Herman Cain, none of it surprises me at all. Not enough people care about reputations or doing the right thing in sports, homes or businesses. Sleazoids can do as they like because to fans and the public it's all about scoring or profits... until they are personally affected.

I am not disillusioned because I never believed the illusions, this is what colleges and businesses are like and those are just the facts. I'm sad for those who believe otherwise, honor and goodness are out of fashion. Rated in hope that some day things will change.
It's shocking to me that Joe Paterno didn't say, "We're going to the police station right now and you're going to tell them exactly what you told me." The State's Attorney ought to investigate Paterno and the assistant coach for being accessories after the fact.
l'Heure - you're thinking rationally, but that type of thought often disappears in the sporting world, especially in the world of college football. As I said above, Joe Paterno was Penn State football. More importantly, Joe Paterno believed, clearly, that he was Penn State football. That's what makes this all (sadly) plausible.

Patrick - incredibly, Paterno claims that he did not know the details of what happened in the shower, which is why he did not do anything other than telling the AD. That makes no sense whatsoever. If a graduate assistant/coach was so concerned as to go to him to tell him of an incident, don't you think he would have asked for some specifics? If he cared, that is.
Congratulations on the ED.

First, as you no doubt know, Joe Paterno was fired last night, never to coach again at Penn State. At one point, Paterno was quoted to say, "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more." As sad as this statement is, it implies that be both knew about Sandusky's hideous activities and chose to do little, if anything, about it. For this statement alone, his firing was necessary.

Secondly, your tribute to Joe Frazier a meaningful one. Sadly, he was from a more golden era of boxing, when the sport, it could be argued, was truly a sport. Hardly the case now.

Lastly, I appreciate the juxtaposition between the two "Joes," however, the bridge between the two sports icons was non-existent, as was any reference to the larger picture here. I would have appreciated two separate posts, one that extols the career of Frazier, the other describing the tragedy of Paterno's insensitivity and a University's unspeakable stupidity - no doubt because no one was willing to sever the huge money stream that big time football, in this era, provides.

Two separate posts could have afforded the opportunity to connect the lives of each to what is happening to American Sports, as well as the human drama in both the lives of Smokin' Joe Frazier and legendary coach Joe Paterno.
RAR - yes, Joe Paterno was fired (appropriately) and some members of the student body at Penn State have done little more than add to the problem with their misguided rioting. The only good news to have come out of this story is that the Board of Trustees of Penn State recognized that the institution that is the school was more important than the institution that is Joe Paterno. It's the first, and only time, in this saga that we have seen anyone show that they had their priorities in order.
Well argued, counselor. It's all moot now, of course, but at the time you wrote it (and, really, now for Joe, who still doesn't get it), right on.

By the way, I heard yesterday morning (from a very reliable journalistic source) that one of the things that made Ali's taunting of Smokin' Joe particularly repugnant was that Joe gave him money when he was out of boxing due to the draft thing and that Joe personally advocated for the return of his boxing license. So Ali's behavior was not just unfairly characterizing Frazier. It was also the lowest kind of ingratitude.
Pilgrim - thanks for reading and for the information. I had never heard that about Frazier. Classy guy.