Saturday, November 19, 2011

A New Game Plan for Penn State

Dear Penn State board of trustees, my sympathies to your students and graduates, many of whom will be branded for years as "less than" due to the Sandusky-PSU child sex-abuse scandal.

Suggest your school emphasize entrepreneurialism even more than currently, because your children (yes, that's what they still are to us parents who send them to school) will be branded by a tarnished Penn State brand. Starting businesses will be the best way for PSU grads to be employed, so get going putting together a new plan to boost your business school. 

As for the business world, one brand management executive says it will take 25 years for PSU to regain its good name. If so, then today's 17-year-old freshman will be 42 before cleansed from the scandal's dirty bathwater.

Imagine, 25 years, more than a generation. A generation without sympathy.

That's what you big shots at Penn State have wrought for your children. You all should seek redemption by cooperating with authorities and putting forth an honest effort to help, not hinder, investigations. Do any cost. 

Remember, you are now in a "No Sympathy Zone" -- and it stretches more than a country mile in Happy Valley.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Legacies Made and Gone

Two sporting Joes, both famous and toughly knit from Pennsylvania, died this week. They died in different ways, one whose body fell to illness, the other whose body of work fell to the illness of winning at all costs.
Joe Frazier succumbed to kidney cancer at age 67. Now after his last breath, the son of Philadelphia is being fondly remembered as a champion. His iron will matched an iron determination. He was consistent. He could  be counted on in victory and defeat.
The same can’t be said for Joe Paterno, whose godlike, 46-year reign at Pennsylvania State University will live way beyond Paterno’s last moment on this earth.He won’t be so fondly remembered, no matter what various courts of law and public opinion come to conclude.
For decades, Paterno forged a football legacy of truth, honor, courage, commitment -- yes, sacrifice -- for the team. They won national championships and were bowl perennials. Penn State emulated the best of collegiate sports.
Now, way beyond the collegiate sports world, the globe has judged Paterno lacking, his legacy corrupt, the Penn State brand facing continued ignominy. Even Moody’s investments is considering a downgrade, considering untold court cases soon to make the school liable for millions of dollars in payments to the sex-abuse victims and their families.
It is the Penn State family that will face the ultimate test. But they already have the answers. Just follow the truth/honor/courage/commitment/sacrifice mantra from here on out.

Those are the best embers to be taken from these sorry ashes.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

'Old School' All The Way

My brother, Greg Lewis, is a paragon of strength and good humor. Today, I return from his intensive care bedside, not broken but humbled.
I know that God is on top of  this, and I am somewhere near the middle of His universe. I know that Greg is now resting his final moments on His creation, and that soon my brother -- who always had sage answers for my undying queries -- will have that omnipresent answer that we all shall seek one day.

Greg Lewis and Rosa Parks, one of dozens of black luminaries
who got "good ink" from a great friend and journalist.

Greg is old school. We met in North Carolina as a pioneering fivesome -- including Mae Israel, Ron Topping and Ken Campbell. I was the only one from "The North," and my alleged Yankee upbringing repulsed Greg and "Top" early on.

But not for long. We had so much in common. We were all race men, who tackled the white opposition in different venues and always came out superior. Then came the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party to Greensboro in November 1979. We covered the heck out of the story, to the point that at least one of our senior editors was trading our intelligence to the FBI after five people were shot dead in the city's streets during a public protest. (The assailants were never criminally convicted.)

Our coverage was tight, and we were named Pulitzer Prize finalists and won the National Headliners Award. We were young and oh-so- awfully good.

I could go on and on about how Greg has inspired me, how our friendship spanned decades and miles, how our phone conversations always ended with, "I Love You."

Never said that to any other man. None other were so worthy.

(Here is the link about Greg from Richard Prince's "Journal-isms"  blog.)