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“Suddenly you’re in the middle of this immense, immense story and you’re getting all this access, I just thought I felt like I had a big responsibility and my responsibility was to put the reader there with me. In the house, in the middle of all this. To listen to his words. It was so important for me to back away at that point. Just let people decide what they wanted to think.”

Posnanski said that while the Sandusky scandal was still making headlines, in December and January, inside the Paterno home the focus was now on Paterno’s battle with lung cancer.

“He was in like in a daily fight for his life … He really wanted to beat it so he could spend time with Sue and all that sort of thing. That was really the driving force in those last few months. Much more than anything else. The cancer treatments and the radiations and everything else that he was going through.”

“That was where I really wanted to bring the reader. Take you inside there to that moment where he’s talking through those horrible coughing fits. He was a very, very sick man.”

Posnanski, who had written stories praising Paterno in the past, said not until he was doing his research for the book did he realize the extent to which Paterno has been practically deified by fans and the media at times in his life.

“No person could live up to those stories,” Posnanski said. “That’s really when this whole idea struck me of that Joe Paterno in so many ways has never been treated like a real person.

“All of these years he was treated like a saint and of course now, he’s treated like the opposite. … He brought a lot of that on himself. He demanded that of himself, too.”

“To see those extremes of his life. I knew my job was to try to find the guy in the middle somewhere.”


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