Joe Posnanski is a terrific writer. He also happens to have terrible luck.
The former Sports Illustrated star, who currently writes for a new venture called Sports on Earth, has spent years working on an in-depth biography of the legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Posnanski reportedly snagged a $750,000 advance from Simon & Schuster for the project. And why shouldn’t he? When he inked his contract, Paterno was arguably the most famous and recognizable caller of collegiate X’s and O’s in the country. Even though it had been clear for some time that the gnomish, octogenarian’s best seasons were behind him, he was still “Joe Pa” — the trusted and revered shaper of young men whose strong moral code had always gone unquestioned. It seemed like an obvious best-seller. Plus, the author had attained extraordinary access to Paterno, his family, and his archives.
Then, just as the book was about to go to print, the unimaginable happened. One of the most respected figures in college athletics was suddenly swept up in a child molestation scandal allegedly perpetrated by one of his longtime assistants, Jerry Sandusky. Worse, the fatherly Paterno (who died from cancer in January) knew about the stomach-turning incidents and didn’t do as much as he could have — or should have — to see justice done. Just like that, Posnanski’s admiring biography had turned into something very different than the book he’d set out to write. The idol was now tarnished. He would have to push back his deadline, scramble like a quarterback staring down a blitz, and get to work on some serious revisions. READ FULL STORY »