Late Joe Posnanski finally got the approval of Joe Paterno to write a biography of the legendary head coach. The former senior writer at Sports Illustrated had no idea that he would be walking into one of the biggest sports scandals of our time when the news of Jerry Sandusky broke.Posnanski explains his journey in putting together a book that will show people all sides of the Joe Paterno story.Joe Posnanski joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss when he first decided to do a book on Joe Paterno, Joe Paterno not liking Jerry Sandusky in the early his impressions of the Freeh Report, the critics who say he was soft on Joe Paterno in the book and Joe Paterno being sicker than we thought last year.
When did you first decide that you were doing the Joe Paterno book?
“A few years ago I did a piece on him for Sports Illustrated and it went pretty well. That was really with some people around Joe Paterno, some of his family, some of his friends, really thought it would be a great idea for me to do a book on him. That was about 2008. Over time they tried to convince him. He didn’t want to do it and I was fine with that. But over time he started coming around a little bit more and more to it. Late in 2010 he agreed to let me do it. He didn’t agree to do too much with it, but he agreed to let me do it and free me up to do it. That’s how it started.”
Explain the Joe Paterno-Jerry Sandusky relationship?
“They never liked each other. For a long time…lots of people don’t like each other and they are successful. Parcells and Belichick for example. Really toward the end what I found fascinating was about early 90′s maybe like ’92 or ’93 Joe Paterno felt like Jerry Sandusky wasn’t doing his job anymore. They felt like he was not working hard anymore. Not caring anymore. Not recruiting. Of course the fact that he already didn’t like him it really became a hostile relationship between those two.”
How do you feel about the Freeh Report? Did Joe Paterno lie to you and everyone else?
“What I really feel is I want people to read the book. Hopefully they can come up with those things. The Freeh Report? They had a very different goal obviously than I did. Their goal was to try to find out what happened and to give suggestions to the university from having it ever happen again. There are many people, the Paterno family included, who believe the Freeh Report is completely wrong.”
People have already come out and said you are soft on Joe Paterno. Your thoughts?
“I don’t think I am. If somebody reads the book and decides I am soft on Joe Paterno then they are certainly entitled to that opinion. I think the book is as fair as I can make it. That was absolutely my focus the entire time. It was hard. There was a lot going on. There was a lot of criticism coming from all ends and it was difficult, but all I wanted to do was shut everything out and just write this book as honestly as I could write. That was my focus. I tried to stay out of it as much as I could. I think for the most part I was able to do that. I just tell the story and hopefully people can decide for themselves.”
Was Joe Paterno sicker than we thought or did he just give up?
“Much sicker than we thought. It was interesting in the middle of this because if you remember when they announced he had cancer, they said it was treatable and there was a lot of feeling that he was going to come through it and all of that. When you were in with him and you realized how sick he was and the last time I saw him in the hospital it was clear he was not going to live much longer. You realized that was basically his fight. At the end those last few months of his life all of this other stuff was going around and he knew about it and he was aware of it and he disagreed with a lot of it and so on and so fourth, but his fight was to live. He was cancer-ridden and obviously it didn’t take very long.”