HEISER: Paterno Legacy Series of beer does nothing to improve his legacy


"Nothing dies harder than a bad idea."

— Author Julia Cameron

The Paterno Legacy Series of beer is a bad idea.

For nearly four years, the Penn State football community in general, and Joe Paterno in particular, have been vilified by critics from across the nation for their handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Not surprisingly, the PSU and Paterno supporters here in Pennsylvania — many right here in York County — have fired back with an all-out defense of their favorite school and their beloved coach.

Again not surprisingly, the debate has gotten downright ugly, even vicious, at times. That's what happens when both sides in a dispute become entrenched in their positions. There's no changing anyone's mind, so the two sides simply resort to name calling and personal attacks.

Like all public arguments, the rancor will subside for a bit when the topic at hand falls out of the headlines, only to be reignited every time a new development puts the subject back in the news.

That's been the case with the Sandusky scandal.

Each new headline in the case returns the Paterno debate front and center for a few news cycles.

The nasty back-and-forth that erupts on social media with each new story, however, is not good for Penn State or the Paterno family. It simply re-opens old wounds that can only be healed by one thing — time.

For the most part, however, it can't be helped. The Sandusky case will continue to be in the news for years, possibly decades, to come. Each new headline will rekindle the dispute.

Still, neither the school, nor the Paterno family, should unnecessarily inflame the situation. It's not in their best interests.

Unfortunately, the Paterno Legacy Series of beer does just that.

The family's decision to put Paterno's name on a beer can do nothing to improve his reputation.

It simply provides his critics the opportunity to drag his reputation through the mud one more time.

When the story about the Paterno beer hit the national news, the comments from the public on various social forums came at a fast and furious rate. As usual, there was almost no middle ground. You were either pro-Paterno or anti-Paterno. The number of comments quickly soared into the hundreds, maybe even the thousands.

Those who despise Paterno used the fact that the family was associating with an adult beverage as a new way to slam the former coach. The critics thought it was inappropriate, or even callous.

"Of the millions of ways to honor his legacy, they pick a product which rapists and pedophiles use as an excuse all the time as to why they raped," one online critic said.

Others said they would never again buy a beer from the western Pennsylvania brewer of the Paterno Legacy Series of beer. It doesn't matter to them that the Paterno family says a portion of the proceeds from the beer will go to charity.

Of course, the Paterno supporters — derisively called Joe-bots by the Paterno critics— feel differently. They will likely flock to buy the beer when it comes off the assembly line.

And the debate rages on.

There's no solution and no listening. With apologies to Shakespeare, there's just sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Does the Paterno family have the right to do what they are doing? Absolutely.

But should they do it? Absolutely not.

Associating Joe Paterno's name with a line of beer does nothing to help the situation. It only exacerbates it.

That's why the Paterno Legacy Series of beer is a bad idea.

Unfortunately, it's a bad idea that will likely die very hard.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.