It's hard to fathom that such a reputable head coach like Joe Paterno could have had such a fall from grace in the aftermath of the child-abuse allegations made against long-time Penn State University assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
But even in death, when the Nittany Lion head coach should have been the recipient of respect and admiration for his great contributions to the school and college football, Paterno was yet again painfully linked to Sandusky, and his role in not speaking out about his knowledge of Sandusky's alleged crimes.
On Sunday, Sandusky issued a statement about his friend and former boss after news broke that Paterno has died due to complications from lung cancer.
This is a sad day! Our family, Dottie [Sandusky's wife] and I would like to convey our deepest sympathy to Sue [Paterno] and her family, Sandusky said. Nobody will be able to take away the memories we all shared of a great man, his family, and all the wonderful people who were a part osf his life. [...] He maintained a high standard in a very difficult profession. Joe preached toughness, hard work and clean competition. Most importantly, he had the courage to practice what he preached.
Sandusky's statement likely did more harm than good.
Penn State, and the family of Paterno, would probably prefer that Sandusky avoid all media contact. Instead, by making the statement, Paterno's reputation receives yet another reminder that he was involved in one of the most allegedly heinous acts in collegiate sports.
It's difficult to understand why Sandusky keeps putting himself in front of the media.
In a televised phone interview with Bob Costas in Nov. 2011, Sandusky did little to convince people that he was innocent of charges that he molested several under-age boys. Now, he's making public comments about Paterno when everyone connected to Paterno is doing everything in their power to distance themselves from Sandusky.
Paterno, whether he deserves praise or scorn over his career, at least deserved to be immediately remembered for his positive contributions the day after his death, and not the black eye on his career.