To The Penn State Football Team:
No team in the history of college football that’s been through anything close to this.
Your former head coach is dead, and humiliated and shamed daily even in his grave. Your entire team has been somehow not only linked to the actions of a perverted ex-coach, you’re now being forced to pay the penalty for his actions a decade ago. Your entire team has been turned into a free agent feeding frenzy with sharks from other universities circling the football building, just waiting for players to emerge.
Despite what the talking heads on TV are saying and what the bloggers are writing, know that there are hundreds of thousands of us out there. We feel your pain. We still believe in Penn State, and in Penn State Football for everything it has stood for for so many years.
Try as they might, the haters and do-gooders cannot simply erase decades of excellence. Every single one of you chose Penn State because it was an honor to wear the Blue and White. To stand for something simple and pure. In the end – despite the sanctions – the entire country does know that you guys had nothing to do with this.
Serious errors in judgement were made by people who should have known better and should have done more to stop it.
Now, a nation of believers looks to you to restore the honor. The honor of being a Penn State Nittany Lion and the honor of Penn State University. This shouldn’t be up to you, but it is.
Football culture? Not really.
Being a Penn State fan was never about the damn football team. It was about cheering for the good guys. It was about driving to the middle of nowhere to enjoy another great autumn day in central Pennsylvania knowing that we would see old friends, enjoy the campus and knowing that our team were truly the “good guys” because they have to go to classes – real ones – to stay on the team because the coaches demanded it.
Nothing has changed. You’re STILL the good guys, and even the most jaded Penn State haters know that you had nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky.
Your new coach has shown amazing poise, confidence, and drive in dealing with this catastrophe. There’s a lot to look forward to, including having a real offence for the first time in years. A completely new and younger coaching staff with NFL experience.
We – the fans – will be there.
While the NCAA sanctions were aimed at “changing the football culture,” I can assure you that it had the opposite effect. The Penn State faithful love you guys, and have never been more galvanized to support Penn State Football.
Despite what others may think, you are the men who will show the world what Penn State is all about. Penn State Football and Joe Paterno played a big part in making Penn State a national brand and what it is today: a world-class university. He’s been ripped to shreds, yet the team still exists. The team will survive. Penn State fans know
If you’re concerned about turning pro, just remember that only 2 or 3% of college football players ever make it to the Big Show. Look around at your 100 teammates: only two or three of them will ever make it. But Coach O’Brien has something Joe Paterno never had: a Rolodex of contacts in the NFL. He knows them, he knows what they’re looking for, and he knows who to call.
You now have the opportunity to take on the biggest role of your life.
Stay and play hard and you will be the most beloved team that Penn State has ever had, past or future. No one will EVER forget the names of the players who chose to stay and wear the Blue and White and show the world that we might be down, but we are NEVER, EVER out. You will never regret it, I promise you.
You’ll still get to play the game you love for a coach who quite possibly took the worst job in the history of all sports. He loves and respects all of you, and together you can make history.
There is nothing that the world loves to see more than someone overcoming adversity.
Together as a team, you might just be writing the most incredible story in the history of all sports. No one will ever forget the team that stayed.
Please remember that despite everything, your true fans still love this team and will be there for you. None of us holds you responsible for any of this.
We Are Penn State.
After all of this.
No matter what.
To all of the casual readers who may have come across this post and are upset with the fact that I seem to be putting football in importance over the pain and suffering of Jerry Sandusky’s victims: I am 100% in support of the maximum criminal sentence being dealt to those who are proven guilty in our judicial system. I do not, however, support the character assassination of anyone until they are found guilty by either a judge or a jury that comes to their conclusions based on a fair trial. In reality, the Penn State football team is in many ways the face of Penn State, more now than ever. These young men now find themselves in the crosshairs of history and are being assessed the penalties for the actions of others.