Joe Paterno Obituary Cartoon Do-Over

Rob Tornoe has revised his Joe Paterno-Bear Bryant cartoon in light of the Freeh Report.

Rob Tornoe’s Philadelphia Inquirer cartoon depicting Bear Bryant welcoming Joe Paterno to Heaven went viral back in January.

Now, after the conviction of Jerry Sandusky and the damning report from Louis Freeh showing Paterno’s role in enabling the unspeakable crimes against children, Tornoe wants a do-over:

The cartoon was enormously popular, and spread across Facebook like a wildfire. My inbox was stuffed with thank you notes and warm wishes from Penn State alums across the country. Someone even printed it out and put it on display next to Paterno’s statue as a tribute. And you know something – I was wrong.

With the release of the Freeh report, it’s clear to anyone but his kids that Paterno, along with other top Penn State officials, covered up the child sex abuse allegations against assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky out of fear of bad publicity.

Covered up child rape. For more than a decade. So it wouldn’t harm the football team. I’m not a religious person, but this man doesn’t belong in heaven.

So I have the opportunity not too many cartoonists are afforded – to redress my mistake, to call myself out for taking part in a pity party for someone who decided that a child’s well being was only valuable if they were wearing his team’s football uniform.

So like Mitt Romney and Bain, I’ve retroactively updated my obituary cartoon and redrawn it to expel Paterno from paradise and send him plummeting downward. Like Sandusky in prison, Paterno is now in a place that knows how to deal with people who allow children to be raped.

Here’s the revised version:

It’s certainly a more appropriate sentiment in light of new evidence. It would have seemed mighty harsh, though, the day after Paterno’s death.

FILED UNDER: Humor, Obituaries, Popular Culture, Sports, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. legion says:

    Hellz yeah.

    Also: I wonder how many death threats he’s getting right about now.

  2. 11B40 says:


    Once again, is it the righteousness of your outrage or the outrage of your righteousness that so animates you all ???

  3. al-Ameda says:

    the idea of Bear Bryant kicking anyone out of anywhere is a joke.

  4. Ben says:

    @11B40: I find it hard to fathom that anyone could NOT be outraged by the contents of some of those emails in the Freeh report.

  5. michael reynolds says:


    I think it’s the fact that we don’t like men who rape children, or men who enable men rape children.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s it.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @11B40: What @michael reynolds said. This wasn’t a momentary lapse of judgement or weakness in the face of a friend’s foibles, it was a continuous decision, over the course of a decade, to let a man continue to rape boys rather than risking a scandal that might incrementally harm Penn State’s ability to recruit teenagers to play football.

    @al-Ameda: Judging by the standards of his era, Bryant was a class act. The “Junction Boys” business in his TAMU days sickens me but it was just a little over the top by 1950s standards and even Bryant came to understand that it was no way to coach. And he was instrumental in integrating SEC football.

  7. 11B40 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Greetings, Mr. Joyner, et al.:

    Whatever Mr. Paterno’s shortcomings in his life and his responsibilities, the cartoon “do-over” you promulgated mocking his death is both trite and unseemly. That it can strike such a cord in your commentariat indicates to me that Ox-Bow Incidents are as emotionally rewarding as ever.

    My father had two fundamentals to his philosophy of manhood. The first was “to protect and provide”. Certainly, it is now apparent that Mr. Paterno failed grievously in this regard. The second of my father’s fundamentals was “the ability to tell yourself, “No!”. In this regard, you have failed.

    I still believe that Mr. Paterno’s death was a foreseeable probability and should have been better considered during his summary removal from Penn State. Obviously, others think otherwise and, more to the point, find some kind of solace in his demise. This will protect no children nor will it restrain any pedophiles.

  8. DRS says:

    The cartoon doesn’t “mock his death”, it predicts his just rewards in the hereafter.

  9. legion says:

    @11B40: Are you seriously saying that Paterno’s health and age should have influenced Penn State to keep him on the job as all this was coming to light?


  10. An Interested Party says:

    Whatever Mr. Paterno’s shortcomings in his life and his responsibilities, the cartoon “do-over” you promulgated mocking his death is both trite and unseemly.

    As opposed to what those shortcomings and his dereliction of his responsibilities were? Perhaps you could sit in front of some of Sandusky’s victims and their families and crinkle your nose as you talk about what is trite and unseemly…

    This will protect no children nor will it restrain any pedophiles.

    Well at least those others have something in common with Paterno…