To address a few things from the responses:
In terms of the death penalty, in my opinion the masses feel the need to cry for justice/vengeance and the death penalty is all that's left. Paterno is dead, Spanier, Curley, and Schulz are gone, Sandusky is convicted and in jail. Ironically if Paterno were still alive, then the cry for the death penalty would likely not be as loud, as the masses would instead be crying for Paterno to be put in jail. Here's one take on the death penalty:
aol.sportingnews.com/ncaa-footba ... =hp_t2_a14
As for the Freeh report, I've read through most of it, and the fact is that Paterno's entire involvement in any cover up is based on 2 vague and non-specific emails. I know I'll be accused of being a blind, Joe Paterno loyalist, but I'm reserving my final judgment until I hear (hopefully) actual facts.
In terms of whether or not it'd be better if Paterno were still alive, I think assuming he weren't very weakened and beaten down from cancer, then it's be better if he were alive. It's easy to pile on someone who is dead and can't defend himself at all. I'd like to hear his responses and we would at the very least hear the other side of the events and hopefully learn more facts from them. The one man who now holds the key to it all is Curley, so we'll see what comes out of his trial.
My thoughts on Paterno at this point:
Throughout this ordeal I've been reminded a number of times of the story of Brian Milne, a former fullback at Penn State, who had scholarship offers from every major program in the country. That is, until he was diagnosed with cancer his junior year in highschool and given a 50% chance to live. Literally every program pulled their offers, with the exception of Joe Paterno, who told Milne, a 17 year old kid with a 50/50 shot at seeing age 18, that his scholarship was his no matter what, not to worry about that, and instead focus on beating the cancer.
That's one example of the thousands of young men Joe Paterno helped and genuinely cared about during his lifetime and tenure as the head coach of Penn State football. Over 60 years he helped turned thousands of young men into boys, emphasizing at every step the importance of their education and about their life being more than football. He gave $4 million to build a library that has benefitted, and will continue to benefit, thousands of young people. He devoted countless hours and dollars to the Special Olympics and helping children with special needs. Books have been written on the topic, filled with similar stories of his unwavering caring and devotion to helping young people. (And that's to say nothing of his children and grandchildren, who by all accounts he was loving and devoted to.)
I can not, at this point with the limited information (again, 2 vague emails) I feel exists, reconcile in my mind that Paterno would have knowingly covered up child abuse. It simply doesn't fit or make sense. That's not say I don't have questions, I certainly do, and if the day comes when I have answers to those questions and they paint Paterno is a different light, then I'll reconcile it at that point. People can call it what they want and label me what they want, but I'm just not ready to have 60 years of good and helping young people by a true hero of mine be completely destroyed in my mind based on 2 vague emails.