The relentless machine that is History moves on and doesn’t ever stop. Oftentimes individuals are picked up, caught up in its gears and machinery; innocent victims whose actions–or inactions–help determine the direction the machine will go. It’s an unfortunate fact that, while their contributions to History will be recorded (usually anonymously), they themselves will be casually thrown aside like a car stranded on a railroad crossing when the train arrives, with no forgiveness nor compassion possible.
So it is with Mike McQueary, the former Penn State football player, grad student, assistant coach and almost single-handed destroyer of the Joe Paterno football legacy.
McQueary did the right thing, mostly…but as is sometimes the case, he didn’t do the right thing, completely. That’s often the difference between someone who is remembered fondly and reverently by History, or someone who could have done more to change History’s outcome.
From Yahoo Sports:
On the stand at the Sandusky trial McQueary was strong against a lengthy, vigorous and, at times, purposely ridiculous cross-examination. Through all his testimonies he’s been seen as credible.
State investigators and prosecutors built criminal charges against [Jerry] Sandusky, [Gary] Schultz and [Tim] Curley based on his word. A grand jury agreed to indict Sandusky on Victim No. 2 despite the boy never being identified (he has since come forward and is expected to speak at Sandusky’s sentencing next Tuesday). They did the same against Schultz and Curley.
And at the Sandusky trial, he never overstated what he witnessed. The jury found McQueary so believable they convicted Sandusky of four of the five charged counts, specifically, following McQueary’s testimony. It was his word that even led to the acquitted charge, which would’ve required proof of actual penetration, something McQueary repeatedly said he didn’t see.
No, Mike McQueary didn’t do enough to stop Jerry Sandusky. No, he didn’t scream loud enough about what he saw. What he did though was more than any other person at Penn State did for a long time. While McQueary ranks extremely low on the list of victims of the Sandusky case, he was affected.
McQueary testified that after seeing the movie “Rudy” on February 9, 2001, and being thusly emotionally inspired, he returned to his office at Penn State’s athletic department to look at more recruiting tape. What he saw, there in the coaches’ showers with Sandusky and Victim #2, could not have been more of a polar opposite to that film.
Should he have spoken up? Should he have physically assaulted Sandusky and made him stop? Should he have then called the police?
Should he, in the weeks and months that followed and after having told both Paterno and the head coach’s superiors, should he have followed up? Should he have made an effort to see to it that something, something more, was done?
The fact remains that he did not. He did what was required, and that was all. For most, that would be enough. As the article says, that was more than anyone else at Penn State had done.
But it wasn’t enough. By his inactions, for another 10 years the sexual abuse by Sandusky continued. It’s a Hell of a different kind, a guilt and burden that McQueary must live with for the rest of his life.
While it’s true that any actions considered to be “above and beyond” what he did would have likely cost him his job–including assaulting Sandusky or calling the police–in the end that was taken from him as well. Although he could not have known it at the time, doing the right thing would have had the same consequences as doing only what was asked of him.
He testified before the Grand Jury, his words and accounts of that day causing normally strong men to weep. That testimony will likely help put Sandusky away for a very long time. He ended a corrupt athletic administration that saw its own agenda to be above the well-being of innocent young boys, some of them almost children. These are the good things he has done.
In the halls of the great machine that is History are the deeds and faces of many individuals–those that have done both good and bad. Mike McQueary’s picture is here, too…but it’s on the wrong wall. It should be on the wall with the others who took the risks and met the sacrifice, caused a positive outcome, and made a big difference in the world.