Joe Posnanski's upcoming biography on former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is already one of the most anticipated book releases about a sports figure in recent memory, and Thursday the author wrote about the challenging process in a guest column for USA Today.
Anyway, to everyone he was Penn State. And so, on Nov. 5, Joe Paterno became perhaps the most despised man in American sports.
And I was there in the middle of it all.
Posnanski, in a way he only knows how, explains what his reasoning was for wanting to do a book on Paterno, the football coach, and also what it was like being in the middle of one of the biggest college sports scandals in history.
No, after Nov. 5 I found myself in the middle of something surreal. I was staying in a small apartment in State College, connected to my wife and daughters through the magic of Skype, and it felt like the ground was unstable. Every few minutes, it seemed, there were new details, rumors, accusations, defenses, truths, lies, so many it was hard to see straight. The media surrounded Joe Paterno's home. Facts emerged and retreated. No charge was dismissed; no allegation was too sinister for discussion.
According to Posnanski, he talked to Paterno many times in the last months of his life and was granted access to his many personal notes.
I talked to some of the people closest to him and also some of his harshest critics. I also talked with child sex abuse experts and legal experts to offer background and context. I read anything and everything that might give me some insight into who Joe Paterno really was.
All-in-all, Posnanski believes his book will reveal the complex personality of the former Nittany Lion head coach and, hopefully, will allow readers to form their own opinion on him.
No, I don't feel about Joe Paterno the same way I did when I started writing the book. But I don't feel about him the way his most blistering critics feel. He was a human being, filled with ideals and flaws, honesty and hypocrisy, charity and selfishness, modesty and the refusal to abdicate his throne. There was little simple about him. I chased the complicated story of a man and his long life. I hope that is the story I wrote.
For more on Penn State football, check out Black Shoe Diaries.