In one excerpt, Posnanski said Paterno “sobbed uncontrollably” when he met with his former staff Nov. 10, the day after he was fired. This was five days after child sex abuse charges were brought against former Nittany Lion assistant Jerry Sandusky, leading to Paterno, school president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley all losing their jobs.
In the book, Posnanski writes of Paterno: “This was his bad day. Later, one of his former captains, Brandon Short, stopped by the house. When Brandon asked, 'How are you doing, Coach?' Paterno answered, 'I'm okay,' but the last syllable was shaky, muffled by crying, and then he broke down and said, 'I don't know what I'm going to do with myself.'
A former writer for Sports Illustrated, Posnanski was granted unprecedented access to Paterno for the book. But that agreement was struck long before the Sandusky scandal exploded and rocked the program Paterno spent some 45 years building.
Paterno was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after being fired and died in January of this year.
The excerpts released by GQ focus on the volatile end of Paterno's coaching career, including his family coming to grips with the vast number of charges against Sandusky and a public relations specialist attempting to “negotiate a gracious ending” to Paterno's storied coaching career.
A source close to the Paterno family, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the book covers the Hall of Fame coach's entire life, and not just the final few months. He added that certain members of the family have read proofs of the book and seem to be OK with it.
“It's fair,” the source said. “It's a good book. There are a lot of things in there I didn't even know.”
The source added that Posnanski does not make any judgement calls in the book, but rather asks readers to read what he wrote and then come to their own conclusions.