Joe Posnanski's interview with Bob Costas airs tonight on NBC Sports Network at 9 PM ET. As we discussed on last week's podcast with Ed Sherman, the reviews of Posnanski's work have fallen between sympathy to Posnanski's plight and blasting Posnanski as being blinded by Paterno's aura. Many reviewers have seen Posnanski as too close to Joe Paterno and the Paterno family to really capture what happened at Penn State. That perception of Posnanski is unlikely to change given the quotes NBC has released from tonight's interview. In the Costas sitdown, Posnanski questions the Freeh Report and whether or not Joe Paterno actively covered up child abuse at Penn State…
Costas: “Without getting bogged down in the particulars, this is the essence of Louis Freeh, former FBI director‘s report. The conclusion: In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, Paterno, among others, but again Paterno is the figure that the public gravitates toward here, repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from authorities, the university’s trustees, the Penn State community and the public. If that is true, as Freeh concluded, it is indefensible.”
Costas: “You don’t believe that though."
Posnanski: “I don’t believe that, no. I honestly don’t. I honestly believe that what Louis Freeh did, and I have no qualms with the Louis Freeh report, he had his goals and his role in this thing.”
Costas: “Well if you don’t think that’s true, you must have qualms with his report."
Posnanski: “He didn’t talk to Tim Curley; he didn’t talk to Gary Schultz; he didn’t talk to Joe Paterno; he didn’t talk to Jerry Sandusky; he didn’t talk to Tom Harmon; he didn’t talk to Mike McQueary. He didn’t talk to any of the major players in this and I think, I understand why he went to those conclusions, and he did, but I believe the report is very incomplete and I do believe that as things come out, it’s going to emerge that some of the people who wrote some of the emails and so on are going to say that everything has been misspoken.”
Posnanski: “My feeling again is, and I’m really not looking to dodge because there are so many things that we don’t understand and hard to know, but I have many of the same facts that I reported on my own that are in the Freeh report – he jumped to conclusions that I cannot jump to. I mean, I jump to definitely there was a sense that Joe Paterno knew more than he suggested; there’s definitely a sense that Joe Paterno should have done more. But the cover up, the idea that he was actively following it, these sorts of things, I think they’re still, to me, they’re still up in the air.”
These quotes aren't going to do Joe Posnanski any favors with those that feel he is clinging to the Paterno legacy and myth. While Posnanski has attempted to find a nuanced middle ground in terms of Joe Paterno's legacy, these quotes about the Freeh Report will no doubt cause even more questions about the neutrality of his work. Perhaps Posnanski knows something we don't know in his questioning of the Freeh Report. But to be honest, and without seeing those quotes in the full interview's context, they read as something that could have easily been said by Matt Millen.