Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Tale of Two Joes

Two Joes have the spotlight today. One finally got his due, another got exposed. One was beloved by the media, the other ridiculed. Time has a way of uncovering the good and evil that men do, or at least tolerate.

Joe Frazier never got his due while he was alive, as a boxer or a man. The media always saw him as a placeholder for Muhammed Ali during his suspension, even after Frazier beat him. It took Frazier's death for the media to admit, finally, that Ali (as a Washington D. C. sports talk commentator said this morning) that Ali was a "d!&k" and that Frazier conducted himself with class.

The media always looked upon Joe Frazier with scorn and laughed at Ali's racial characterizations of him. They sounded a lot like later attacks on Condoleeza Rice and Michael Steele. Frazier bore them with pride and dignity, even in his later, impoverished years. Only now, with his death, do we finally hear that, yes, this was a great man in his own way.

Joe Paterno has always been identified as morality and rectitude itself. He comes from that greatest generation and seemed to symbolize all of its virtues. Unfortunately, he could not bring himself, when given a statement that a child had suffered sexual attack, to turn in his old friend who happened to attack at least eight other children. Paterno did the legal minimum. He told his superiors. It does not matter that Paterno knew few of the pertinent details. He knew a man with Penn State credentials had sexually forced himself on a young boy. That is all you need to know to pick up the damned phone and call 9-1-1.

So while we feel disappointment with one Joe, let us remember fondly the other. Joe Paterno was not the man we thought he was. But Joe Frazier was so much more.

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