SI writer haunted by favorable profile of Jerry Sandusky

Sports Illustrated
After a grand jury indicted former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for sexual abuse of children, a friend of sportswriter Jack McCallum reminded him of his 1999 profile of Sandusky and his foundation for disadvantaged kids. “I guess you feel like a jerk,” the friend said. McCallum says the story, which he pitched after another one about Penn State fell through, “wasn’t very good.”

More to the point and most obviously, I had no suspicions about anything untoward going on with Sandusky or Second Mile. I remember that I didn’t particularly like the man — he seemed a little strange and detached and not at all joyful about what he was doing — but none of that tipped my cynical believe-the-worst-about-anyone-until-proven-otherwise journalistic dial toward high alert. …

Two things in particular haunt me. By the time I wrote the story, Sandusky’s showering with a youngster had already triggered a campus investigation, albeit one that never became public. And the revelations in the “Jerry Sandusky Grand Jury Report” … reveal that some of Sandusky’s worst behavior was going on right around this time. So I wrote a favorable story about a guy who was already a sexual predator.

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated columnist Joe Posnanski, who is working on a biography of Joe Paterno, says he will not “add to the noise,” but instead focus on the book.

Some readers have criticized Posnanski for not weighing in on the scandal. In a longer post on, Posnanski writes:

I don’t know if this will make much sense, but the advantage of writing a biography, rather than an article or a series, is that you have time to allow the snippets and fragments and disputed stories and piercing emotions and enlightening moments to meld together and become something sharper and deeper, a mosaic that might offer something like insight. The challenge, though, is to use that time, to not get caught up in the emotion and distracting heat of the moment. …

I came to State College to write about a real man. I won’t tell you anything surprising: This terrible, evil story has made it harder.

Related: For sports media obsessed with the latest scandal, the biggest challenge may be maintaining some sense of fairness (National Sports Journalism Center)

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  • Benjamin Peisch

    What difference does it make if he was a homosexual, pansexual, bisexual, or heterosexual pedophile? “Pedophile” is the only word that counts. We don’t call men who rape women “heterosexual rapists,” do we?

  • Anonymous

    This guy was a predator who picked on little boys to get his “jollys.”  He was a homosexual pedophile.  I don’t care HOW many children he’s fathered or how long he lived openly a “straight” lifestyle.  And no, I would NOT leave my daughter in his care, but that has nothing to do with his orientation as a pedophile.  Pedophiles, by definition, aren’t trustworthy. 
    Have none of you ever heard of NAMBLA–the North American Man-Boy “Love” Association?  Many of it’s members are married and even have fathered children.  That doesn’t make them NOT Homosexual Predators.  Undoubtedly, many of them took on the coloration of normalcy as a form of camouflage.

  • JJ Doe

    PAPPADAVE – I’m not at all suggesting there ISN’T homosexual pedophila. But regardless of the gender of the attacker and the gender of the child, pedophilia is pedophilia and it’s equally offensive.

    When you mention “homosexual” and “pedophile” in the same sentence, it tends to make people think they are automatically related. They are not.

    Pedophilia is pedophilia. A sick f%&k is a sick f%&k.

  • Anonymous

    So you would leave your 10 year old daughter with him? You have no idea what your are talking about. There is no need to confuse the issues and put children at risk. He is a pedophile and all children are in danger around him. 

  • Anonymous

    Why are you afraid of the term?  Sandusky (if he did what he’s accused of) was a homosexual pedophile.  How do we know?  He only picked on young boys.  Like the members of NAMBLA, he was selective of who he molested and raped and girls didn’t enter into his thinking.  Sexually desiring those of the same sex is the very DEFINITION of homosexuality.  Do you think there’s no such THING as homosexual pedophilia?  Wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Anonymous

    What Sandusky did (or ‘allegedly’ did) was unspeakably evil, but please don’t conflate pedophilia with homosexuality. They are two different things. 

    What a consenting adult does is vastly, deeply different than what these monsters do to children who cannot consent. 

  • Anonymous

    “JoePa” is as guilty as Sandusky if he knew about this and STILL tolerated him around the Penn State football program.  Schools, universities AND the church are more concerned with their “image” and preventing lawsuits than they are with protecting young boys???  BS!  Lock the whole bunch in a dark hole and never let them out.

  • Francis Godici

    I wish that the same outrage would have been successful in getting all the Catholic Bishops fired. My wife and I spent over thirty years working in the Catholic Church before finding out that our Bishops were transferring pedophile priests rather than reporting them to the authorities

  • Francis Godici

    Jerry Sandusky is clearly a sick soul. I hate to see a wonderful man like JoePa get tainted after devoting his life to making a place for great kids. Sad.

  • Not Found

    papadave : Does is seem passingly strange to anyone else that the mainstream media have ALL completely ignored the fact that Sandusky was (and is) apparently a homosexual pedophile???

    See more

  • Anonymous

    Does is seem passingly strange to anyone else that the mainstream media have ALL completely ignored the fact that Sandusky was (and is) apparently a homosexual pedophile???