Bears

The real reason Joe Paterno was fired

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The real reason Joe Paterno was fired

From Comcast SportsNet
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State trustees, faced with continued alumni and student criticism for firing football coach Joe Paterno, on Monday released a statement intended to underscore their rationale for his ouster: "failure of leadership" for his actions following a reported sex assault involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky. The board found that while Paterno fulfilled a legal obligation to tell his superiors that an employee claimed Sandusky abused a young boy in a shower, it said Paterno should have done more. "We determined that his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno," the trustees wrote. The trustees report comes after months of criticism from Penn State alumni over Paterno's firing in November. The Hall of Fame coach died in January after a brief bout with lung cancer. In their statement, the trustees said they had been asked by the Penn State community to "state clearly" the reasons for Paterno's dismissal and the removal of the university president. The board had previously offered its rationale for removing Paterno and President Graham Spanier. But Trustee Keith Eckel said Monday the board decided to issue another statement now because alumni had continued to ask questions. "Many people have indicated that they did not understand, and this is our last attempt to try to make it as clear as possible," Eckel told The Associated Press. "And people are welcome to agree or disagree with us." Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year span. He has denied the allegations. Then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary's claim that he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy inside a football building on the university campus is one of 10 such allegations brought by the state attorney general's office. The first round of charges against Sandusky was filed Nov. 5, four days before Paterno was fired and Spanier was forced to resign. The board also apologized for the decision to fire Paterno by phone late that night -- a decision that drew the ire of many of the coach's supporters. "We saw no better alternative," the trustees wrote. "Because Coach Paterno's home was surrounded by media representatives, photographers and others, we did not believe there was a dignified, private and secure way to send Board representatives to meet with him there." The trustees said they planned to apologize to Paterno for the way he was being dismissed but the coach ended the call before the message could be delivered. Phone messages left for Spanier and the Paterno family were not immediately returned. The board also said it decided not to wait until the next morning, saying it feared leaks would have Paterno learning his fate before an official announcement. The coach missed the team's final three regular season games. Bitterness over Paterno's removal has turned up in many forms, from online postings to a note placed next to Paterno's statue at the football stadium blaming the trustees for his death. A newspaper headline that read "FIRED" was crossed out and made to read, "Killed by Trustees." The trustees said they had intended to name Paterno head coach emeritus in honor of his contributions to the university. The board said additional options are under review but no decisions will be reached until after independent counsel and former FBI director Louis Freeh issues a final report on a special investigation into the school's handling of the allegations. The board said the removal of Spanier was also a result of a "failure of leadership" that included insufficiently informing the board of his knowledge of the 2002 allegation. Spanier also made public statements that were not authorized or contrary to the board's instructions, the trustees said. In one statement following the charges against Sandusky, Spanier expressed his "complete confidence" in a pair of university administrators, athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz, who were charged with perjury and failure to report suspected abuse. Spanier requested a vote of confidence from the board on Nov. 9 but was fired that night. Curley is on administrative leave and Schultz retired after being charged. Both maintain their innocence. Also Monday, a judge heard arguments but opted not to rule immediately on how much information Sandusky should get in advance of his trial on child sex abuse charges. Judge John Cleland gave no indication when he'd rule on the arguments concerning the "bill of particulars" about the 10 purported victims that the attorney general's office provided Sandusky's attorney two weeks ago. Defense attorney Joe Amendola requested more specific information about where and when alleged crimes occurred and the names of people who were present or nearby. He has said that information may help him develop his defense. The attorney general's office says Amendola is overstating the lack of specificity in the materials already provided to him. Sandusky did not attend the hearing.

Bears notes: Unlikely contributors Bilal Nichols, Sherrick McManis come through in the clutch

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears notes: Unlikely contributors Bilal Nichols, Sherrick McManis come through in the clutch

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Bears got massive contributions on defense from the guys you’d expect, like Khalil Mack (two sacks, one forced fumble), Akiem Hicks (one sack, one forced fumble) and Eddie Jackson (one interception). But the collective effort put forth by this defense was exceedingly apparent in the final two drives of Sunday’s 16-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Facing a third-and-two at their own 42-yard line just after the two-minute warning, rookie defensive lineman Bilal Nichols blew up a Chase Edmonds run for a loss of three. On the next play, Bryce Callahan — who’s had a fantastic start to 2018 — picked off Josh Rosen, making sure the Cardinals didn’t get into range for what could’ve been a game-winning field goal. 

“It was a great call by coach Vic (Fangio),” Nichols said. “My teammates did a real good job of executing everything and then I kind of relied on my training and just read my keys and tried to make a play. 

“… I knew it was third and one and I knew it probably was going to be a run play, so I just tried to be as disruptive as possible.”

The Cardinals got the ball back and got near midfield with five seconds left — in range, at least, for Rosen to fire a Hail Mary toward the end zone. But instead of dropping eight or nine into coverage, Fangio sent a blitz, and Sherrick McManis — the ace special teamer who also picked off his first pass in eight years on Sunday — hit home for a game-ending sack. 

“I love it,” McManis said. “It was a great call. Coaches did an awesome job putting us in the right places and we did a good job of executing.”

The Bears' defense isn't having the success it is just because of Mack, or some of the top-end players on it. The across-the-board contributions it's getting from every corner of the depth chart is key in that dominance, too. 

Quiet, Please

The Cardinals aren’t the first Phoenix-area sports team to feel like they don’t have much of a home field/court/rink advantage when a squad from Chicago comes to town, that’s for sure. But Bears fans travelled so well to Glendale on Sunday that the Cardinals almost had to do something that’s usually reserved for road games. 

“It’s tough. There were a few times that we thought we were going to have to go silent cadence but if you’re not winning, the fans aren’t going to come out,” Cardinals offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. “If we go out and put a better product on the field, fans will come out and watch us and support us.”

No matter how expected it may be, it was still a striking sight to see Bears players — like Mack and Jackson — raise their arms in the air to encourage a crowd to make more noise at a road game. 

Mack Attack

Mack had an interesting description of his forced fumble, which came when Bradford tried to scramble into the Bears’ red zone early in the fourth quarter. It was a pivotal play in the game, and led to an offensive drive that ended with Cody Parkey’s game-winning field goal. 

But in light of the NFL’s raging, self-inflicted controversy about its roughing the passer rule, how Mack explained making that play stands out.

“I knew he was going to have the ball in his right hand, got my head out of the way because that’s a big part of the rules nowadays, and tried to make a play,” Mack said. “It was what we worked on all week, punching the ball out. That’s what coaches were preaching all week.”

So on a Sunday on which Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews was again flagged for roughing the passer after landing on a quarterback, and in a climate where lowering the head constitutes a penalty, Mack pulled off a game-changing play without doing anything the NFL rulebook considers illegal. The Bears have not been flagged for roughing the passer this year, and instead have had multiple strip-sacks in each of their first three games. 

Under Center Podcast: Bears in first place after ugly win

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears in first place after ugly win

It wasn’t pretty, but the Bears are in 1st place in the NFC North after a 16-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Laurence Holmes discuss the good side of things as Khalil Mack and the Bears defense get it done once again – and the bad, as Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense continue to sputter.

Plus, will the Bears see Famous Jameis or Fitz-Magic next week against the Buccaneers? Forte provides some inside info on his former teammate, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: