Former Augusta Chronicle sports writer Joe Posnanski, the author of a new biography of Joe Paterno, says the late Penn State coach and his family never tried to limit his access to them after the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke.
Posnanski told The Associated Press on Tuesday the Paternos wanted their story to be told and trusted him to do it fairly.
“The one thing they were so good about, they never, from Joe all the way down, they never tried to influence the book,” Posnanski said. “They never said, ‘Hey, leave this out or don’t put this in.’ Or this might be misconstrued or whatever. They were, every one of them, said tell the truth the best you see it.”
Paterno was released Tuesday.
“(Paterno’s children) believed that if the truth came out that people would see their father for what he was,” said Posnanski, “so I reached for that.”
Posnanski began the project well before Sandusky, Paterno’s longtime assistant coach, was charged with sexually abusing boys last Nov. 5.
He had extensive access to Paterno before and after the scandal, which led to Paterno’s firing by Penn State within a week of Sandusky being charged. Soon after Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died Jan. 22 at age 85.
Posnanski, who had written stories praising Paterno in the past, said not until he was doing his research for the book did he realize the extent to which Paterno has been practically deified by fans and the media at times in his life.
“No person could live up to those stories,” Posnanski said. “That’s really when this whole idea struck me of that Joe Paterno in so many ways has never been treated like a real person.
“All of these years he was treated like a saint and of course now, he’s treated like the opposite. … He brought a lot of that on himself. He demanded that of himself, too.
“To see those extremes of his life. I knew my job was to try to find the guy in the middle somewhere.”