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GrandPa(terno) should be told bedtime story

November 14, 2004|by MARK KELLER

I'm going to join the fray of writers speaking out on Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

Simply put, it's time for Joe to go.

It seems the number of people who feel the same way has grown to the point that Paterno, now 77, is the only one who doesn't realize the time has come.

In Paterno's defense, it must be a terrible thing to suddenly have so much doubt cast upon you. Put yourself in his black Nikes for a moment.

You've been in the same job for 50 years. At one time, you were at the top of your field. But as the years add up, you're not as sharp as you used to be.

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Competitors that you used to beat are now beating you regularly. You used to be able to bring in the prized employment candidates. Now they're all going elsewhere.

You start hearing whispers that you don't have "it" anymore. You can't cut it against the younger executives. People start calling for you to step down.

I can't imagine how that must feel for Paterno, who was the top college coach in the country once upon a time. But that time has come and gone.

If Paterno is not willing to take a long look at the Penn State program and see where it really stands, somebody in the athletic department needs to do so.

Paterno doesn't think he's doing damage to the program. He doesn't think he needs to bow out gracefully.

By the same token, your grandfather doesn't think he needs assistance or someone to take care of him, even though everyone around him sees it differently.

At some point, someone needs to tell grandpa that this is what's best for him ... and for everybody else.

ยท Just when you thought you had heard it all, another athlete opens his mouth. ...

Ron Artest of the Indiana Pacers asked his coach for as much as a month off to heal his aching body and rest after spending time promoting his upcoming rap album.

I know I don't pay too much attention to the NBA, but didn't the season just start? And Artest is asking for a month off?

Coach Rick Carlisle benched - not suspended - Artest for two games, saying the situation "compromised the integrity of the team."

Enter Artest.

"I don't know what that means," Artest said. "They probably expected a little more; expected me to play every game."

Do you think so, Ron? I can't imagine why the team would expect you to play every game. It's not as if they're paying you to play every game.

But wait, there's more.

"I was doing a lot," Artest said. "I was running around a lot and doing a whole bunch of stuff and I've also been working out, so I think I wore myself down physically, I wore myself down mentally. I was ready to take some time off, at least like a month off, but two games is enough."

Asking for one game off is one thing. Asking for a month off two weeks into the regular season is quite something else.

As a person who has worked two jobs before - and I'm sure there are many of you out there who have or are doing just that - I know that you have to keep those jobs in priority.

You can't ask for a week off from your full-time job to work your part-time job. The full-time job has to take precedence.

Next year, Ron, use the off-season to take care of your side projects or get out of the game altogether. It's not fair to your team or teammates to put focus on your part-time job when your full-time gig needs your full-time attention.

(I had so much fun with "Just when you thought ..." last week, it's going to be a permanent fixture in this weekly space. I promise it won't be an NBA guy every week, but they've made it easy the past two weeks).




Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at keller@herald-mail.com

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