Matko’s vigil continued. “The kids are what this day is about, not who wins or loses,” the sign resting against his jeans read. “Or who lost their job and why. Honor the abused kids by cancelling the game and the season now.”
A passer-by kicked it.
“You’re going to get your [expletive] kicked, man,” a man bellowed.
“That’s [expletive], guy,” another said.
Abuse flew at Matko from young and old, students and alumni, men and women. No one intervened. No one spoke out against the abuse. Over the course of an hour, a lone man stopped, read the sign and said, “I agree.” Those two words were swallowed by the profanity and threats by dozens of others during the hour.
“The world is here. The world wasn’t at the vigil,” Matko said. “I still can’t believe this game is being played. People are telling me the game is going to generate revenue for the kids. That’s the point. We can’t separate revenue, money from football. That’s part of the reason why we’re in this mess.
“I feel so betrayed. … I can’t believe the guys covered it up. It’s disturbing and it’s not over.”
Matko didn’t preach at passers-by. The signs said enough, two voices in a wilderness of blue.
“What a [expletive] idiot, man,” shouted one fan. “Get out of here.”
A woman, clad in blue like the rest, launched a finger-wagging, tirade inches from Matko’s face. Two men led her away.
A burly man wearing a “JoePa” T-shirt strode up, wrestled away the sign urging abused kids be put first from Matko’s right hand and slammed it to the ground.
After reading the signs, another woman glowered at Matko.
“This is in bad taste,” she said.
One bystander wondered how long until Matko was punched.
From the stadium, the roar of “We are Penn State” washed down the street. Three men with white shirts and ties and rolled-up khakis in Paterno’s style hurried past. The sweet smell of kettle korn and smoke from barbecue up the street drifted past two women as they split a 40-ounce bottle of Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquor.