I played in the SEC. I fully understand football as a religion. I'm completely aware of head coaches being viewed as immortals. I also comprehend the love and adoration alumni have for their respective universities. All that being said, there is no room for loyalty at the expense of a moral standard that should be upheld regardless of the cost -- no matter what's at stake or whom it may indict.
I was not put on this earth to judge, but to love. Nevertheless, sometimes while doing the right thing in the name of love, you can be cast as judgmental. So despite the possibility of being misunderstood or labeled as judgmental, I refuse to back away from the truths I know all too well. My beautiful bride of more than 10 years, Beth Ann, experienced the pain of childhood sexual abuse for a year of her life. She hid the pain, shame and guilt inside for far too long. When we were married, it had a profoundly negative impact, but we found hope and healing through quality counseling. Today, we are still on the road to recovery -- together.
One of the ways I express my love for her is through the Heath Evans Foundation, which provides counseling for others and raises awareness about some of the truths of childhood sexual abuse:
Truth: 1 of 4 girls and 1 of 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.
Truth: There is no neutral ground in fighting childhood sexual abuse. You either stand against it or stand for it.
Truth: Bystanders to abuse might as well have been participants in Jerry Sandusky's alleged rape and sexual assault of at least eight boys from 1998 to the late 2000s.
Loyalty is key in every successful way of life. In business, friendship, family and, yes, even football. Loyalty might be the greatest asset to any championship football team. It is also part of what makes a great coaching staff. True loyalty exhibits itself in many ways on a team and a coaching staff. For instance, Monday night after a tough loss at home, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid blamed himself and praised Michael Vick. Meanwhile, Vick took full responsibility for the loss and heaped praise on Reid -- loyalty at its finest.
Loyalty does not stand by and turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to heinous crimes against children. Loyalty does not take the easy way out of an uncomfortable situation. Loyalty does not place more value on friendship or public perception than on what is morally right and wrong!
Lies get you in trouble. Telling further lies to get you out of the first one only dig a deeper pit. Most of us can understand the impulse to "deny, deny, deny" no matter how guilty we are.
One of the most troubling aspects of this Penn State scenario is the fans who remain loyal to the university and Joe Paterno. Einstein said, "The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it!" Just in case you miss the point of one of the smartest men in the modern era, those who stand by Paterno out of loyalty are a key ingredient in the evil we are discussing today.
Einstein also defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We want the world to be a safe place, but we continually stand by and allow evil to rear its ugly head. I'm definitely not Einstein, but I'm not insane either. We, as a society, have stood by and repeatedly swept the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse under the rug hoping for it to disappear on its own. Well, guess what? It's only gotten worse!
The call to action is now. Ask yourself: If that was my son, my brother or my grandson that Jerry Sandusky allegedly had in a dirty college locker-room shower being viciously raped, how would I have wanted Joe Paterno and the administration to respond?
-- NFL Network analyst and 10-year NFL veteran Heath Evans is the founder of the Heath Evans Foundation. The Foundation's mission is to foster hope and healing to victims of childhood sexual abuse.
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