NBC Sports Group

NEW YORK – August 28, 2012 – Paterno author Joe Posnanski, who spent months in State College, Pa., both before and after the Penn State scandal writing his book on the school’s former head coach, will join Bob Costas, a 23-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and one of America’s preeminent interviewers, on the latest edition of Costas Tonight, a 90-minute program, to air tomorrow night, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.


Following Costas’ one-on-one with Posnanski, Costas Tonight will feature the entire interview – including never-before-seen footage – that Costas conducted with convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. That interview aired exclusively on Rock Center with Brian Williams on November 14, 2011.


Posnanski, an eyewitness to history, spent months embedded within Penn State to write Paterno, and had unprecedented access to the head coach before, and then after the scandal broke at the school.


About Costas Tonight:


Costas Tonight builds on Costas’ long and storied career as an interviewer from Later with Bob Costas and Costas Coast-to-Coast to his acclaimed HBO programs, On the Record and CostasNOW. Costas Tonight originates from Studio 8G at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.


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Costas: “You had to have an opinion. You were closer to this than most of us. Do you believe that Joe Paterno was a principled man, not perfect – flawed – but a generally principled man, who in his old age and his inattention simply neglected what he should have done, which is still a pretty serious charge? Or do you believe the more serious charge, much more serious charge, as leveled by Louis Freeh, which is that he, along with others, but he is the major figure, that he knew essentially what was going on and he actively and knowingly covered it up?”


Posnanski: “You know my own personal opinion, which I will share with you, is not as important as the reader’s.”


Costas: “Is that a dodge, though?”


Posnanski: “I’m not going to dodge because I will answer it. But I think it’s really important, if I say what I think, that does influence…I wrote in the book and I believe that Joe Paterno should have done more. I’ve told him that to his face directly. I said ‘You’re Joe Paterno. You’re just expected to do more.’ I don’t believe he was involved in a cover up. I don’t believe that he did this to protect his legacy. I understand that others do. I’ve read the Louis Freeh report several times. I know what’s in it. I think its missing things. I think there were a lot of people he didn’t talk to. I also believe that this is such an emotional topic that if people look at the facts that I presented, they can absolutely go to that conclusion.”


Costas: “Without getting bogged down in the particulars, this is the essence of Louis Freeh, former FBI director‘s report. The conclusion: In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, Paterno, among others, but again Paterno is the figure that the public gravitates toward here, repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from authorities, the university’s trustees, the Penn State community and the public. If that is true, as Freeh concluded, it is indefensible.”


Posnanski: “Absolutely”


Costas: “You don’t believe that though.”


Posnanski: “I don’t believe that, no. I honestly don’t. I honestly believe that what Louis Freeh did, and I have no qualms with the Louis Freeh report, he had his goals and his role in this thing.”


Costas: “Well if you don’t think that’s true, you must have qualms with his report.”


Posnanski: “He didn’t talk to Tim Curley; he didn’t talk to Gary Schultz; he didn’t talk to Joe Paterno; he didn’t talk to Jerry Sandusky; he didn’t talk to Tom Harmon; he didn’t talk to Mike McQueary. He didn’t talk to any of the major players in this and I think, I understand why he went to those conclusions, and he did, but I believe the report is very incomplete and I do believe that as things come out, it’s going to emerge that some of the people who wrote some of the emails and so on are going to say that everything has been misspoken.”


“My feeling again is, and I’m really not looking to dodge because there are so many things that we don’t understand and hard to know, but I have many of the same facts that I reported on my own that are in the Freeh report – he jumped to conclusions that I cannot jump to. I mean, I jump to definitely there was a sense that Joe Paterno knew more than he suggested; there’s definitely a sense that Joe Paterno should have done more. But the cover up, the idea that he was actively following it, these sorts of things, I think they’re still, to me, they’re still up in the air.”


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Costas: “Here’s a passage from your book: ‘as I was writing this book, the line before the time and the line after the time became clear. Before November 5, 2011, it was very difficult to find anyone willing to say a truly bad word about Joe Paterno. After November 5, it was far more difficult to find anyone willing to say a good word.’ And I think, and this is understandable, that to a lot of people that the nature of these crimes was so heinous, and the idea of inaction is so unfathomable that anything less than complete unequivocal condemnation is interpreted as somehow insufficient concern for the victims or the severity of the crime. That made your assignment to parse the good and the bad more difficult.”


Posnanski: “Very difficult. And I knew when this book came out, and like I say I’m very, very proud of it, but I knew when this book came out that it was going to get hit pretty hard by that group of people. I tried to make it as fair as you know. You’ve read it. There are many, many things about Joe Paterno in here that are not flattering – even long before Sandusky. It is as fair and honest of a book as I could write but it doesn’t hide from the fact that for 50 years people considered Joe Paterno a saint, and that for 50 years he was sportsman-of-the-year and he was considered the best thing about sports. We all know that.”


Costas: “Or among them.”


Posnanski: “Or among them. But people would write those words, ‘The best thing about sports is Joe Paterno.’ And suddenly that was gone, completely gone and in many ways rightfully so. But it’s not like those 50 years didn’t happen. And I think even mentioning those years, even talking about that time, for exactly the reasons you say, some people just don’t want to hear it.”


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Costas: “Obviously there has been mixed reaction to the book. Among the reviews we’ve seen so far, this is the most extreme, Paul Campos at, ‘Paterno is a disgraceful book and a minor literary crime. To say Posnanski botches his journalistic and literary opportunity is akin to saying that the Titanic’s maiden voyage might have gone more smoothly.’ Let’s concede that that’s at one end, what criticism somewhere towards the middle of that, do you concede correct or fair?”


Posnanski: “I kind of felt like those guys in Spinal Tap there when you were reading that review. I think this is a book that as people get away from this, and are less emotional about it; they’ll see what I was trying to do in this book. I think that some people see it now, fortunately. But I think as time goes on and as people get less emotional about it, a lot of people who have written reviews, frankly, came in with the same opinion that they went out with. I’ve been, as you know, taking a lot of hits long before the book came out.”


Costas: “(According to public opinion) the only acceptable take is that Paterno was fully culpable in the most extreme interpretation, and that he was, prior to that, a fraud and a hypocrite and this doesn’t just invalidate the good he may have done, it exposes that good as a fraud.”


Posnanski: “Exactly, and I think that’s what certain people wanted. That’s not the story, that’s not the book. I wasn’t going to write THAT book. Somebody else can if they want. I wrote the honest book, the book that I believe is true. I believe that I had better access than I’ll ever get again for a book and I believe that I used it as well as I could.”


Costas: “What did you come away thinking? What is your bottom line on Joe Paterno?”


Posnanski: “I think really what I come away with is what a complicated life it was and what a big life it was.”


Costas: “Do you view him as a good man who made a tragic mistake, be it of omission or commission? Or is he less of a good man because of that mistake?”


Posnanski: “It’s somewhere in the middle. That’s a tough one. I don’t want to dodge it. I think he did a lot of good in his life and I think he did make a tragic mistake.”


Costas: “At his best, was he a good man?”


Posnanski: “Definitely. At his best, I think it’s too long and too distinguished and too many achievements to think that it was worth nothing.”


–NBC Sports Group–