|Thompson, much like Paterno, is a legendary coach, adored for his old-school style. (AP)|
One of the inevitable and regrettable fallouts of big, public scandals is the fact a few people are just going to find ways to open their mouths and get their foot snugged inside there.
Seventy-year-old legendary former Georgetown coach John Thompson fits the description.
The quotes assembled below, via Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post, do not put Thompson in a good light, primarily because he reduces Joe Paterno's inaction re: Jerry Sandusky's continued sex crimes to a "mistake," as if aloofness or careless could be used as a deflection of blame. It clearly can't and shouldn't. Most realize it by now. Those who don't, most of them, are far away from microphones.
Now, before I share the words, let's take into account that Thompson was on radio, ESPN 980 in Washington, D.C. Knowing that, also know that platform can cause people to ramble. This doesn't remove him or excuse him from what he said, but this wasn't a measured, direct response to a question Thompson was addressing here. This was Thompson riffing, letting his diatribe take control, and it'll most certainly bring slack his way.
The qualifiers in Thompson's comments are what do him in here. Flatly, he's just a little too defensive of Paterno's character at a time when the dead man's Q rating is the lowest it ever has been and probably ever will be.
Via DC Sports Bog:
"So when you've got a good man who's done a hell of a lot of good, and he does something that he maybe would be sorry about, I can't begin to define him as being a bad person, because he made a mistake or he misjudged what he should have done. Just as I won't say that the bad person is good because he does a good thing.
“We create false gods in our lives. Joe is not a god. John [Wooden] is not a god, [Coach] K is not a god, [Vince] Lombardi is not a god. He's a human being that has human frailties, and they make mistakes, OK? But we need gods in our lives, and we tend to attribute that only — only — to sport ...
“I feel bad for Joe, because I think he was a damn good man. I think he made a mistake. Probably he would say a terrible mistake. But if Jesse James robbed a hundred thousand banks and gave a little bit of money to the poor, I'm not gonna say he's a good man. Nor in hell am I gonna say that Joe is the worst person that ever lived because he made a mistake.
“He's not a god. We put people in god-like positions, and then they become incarcerated by their reputations. And then when they become incarcerated by their reputations, we exploit that. We exploit that. Because we need to say that if you win so many games, if you won so many championships, you're better than everybody else.
There's more to his quotes, but I don't want to pilfer all of what Steinberg culled. Do check out it out. It's more of Thompson making roundabout attacks and excuses about Paterno's comedown via the media's previous perception of him and fans' adoration.
Thompson is legendary not only for winning a national title and all those games at Georgetown, but also for his truculent personality. To be clear: he wasn't well-liked by everyone, and many considered him a bully. But still a great coach. The man clearly still respects and admires Paterno, despite the Sandusky gaffes. That's fine, but he's finding out he would've been better suited to keep those comments to himself -- not that he'll give too much worry or concern to the reaction from said comments.