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The gray shadow of doubt has been removed. Thursday's Freeh Report did that. Joe Paterno was up to his eyeballs in protecting Jerry Sandusky.

Not protecting those abused boys, mind you. Paterno was more concerned about protecting Penn State football. Because of such an indecent thing that Paterno permitted, one decent thing can come of it.

Remove that Joe Paterno statue on campus. Get rid of it. Get rid of the shame it will always represent.

"Yes, I think they should," said West County resident Keith Dorney, 54, a certified financial planner who was an All-American tackle for Paterno in the 1970s. "I mean, how arrogant of them (Paterno and Penn State's president, vice-president and athletic director) to think about Penn State football and the money-making machine it is over the safety and well-being of young boys. How selfish that is, to protect football over that."

Dorney awoke Thursday morning with the faint hope that the investigation conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh would reveal Paterno not to be at the center of institutional cover-up for Sandusky. But when Freeh used words like "total disregard" and "failed to take steps" in reference to Paterno and the three Penn State administrators, Dorney felt devastated.

"I have been talking to a few of my Penn State friends in the last 24 hours," Dorney said, "and we keep talking about maybe we were duped (by Paterno)."

That maybe Saint Joe was no saint.

"I have seen Joe take away a scholarship from a player who was five minutes late to a team meeting," Dorney said. "I swear. When I came to Penn State, Joe promised me I would be treated fairly, that all players would be treated fairly. In retrospect, I don't think that happened. I was bitter when I left Penn State at how horribly Joe treated me. But the way I looked at it then, I was a 17-year old kid when I came in and came out as a man who was 21. So I thought to myself, that (experience) must have been the best thing for me."

Was Dorney tempted to speak up about it?

"You know how you go to a party and it's been hosted by someone everyone says they like?" Dorney said. "But when you are exposed to that person, you find out how not so terrific they are? The same thing here. When Joe came to my house to recruit me, you should have seen my mom. She adored Joe. She melted like butter in his presence. And then he had a few scotches with my father."

Did Dorney go to his parents and tell them about the Paterno he saw, the one they wouldn't believe? He shut up.

"Joe was the most powerful man on campus. You were told you could put your trust in this elderly Italian gentleman," said Dorney, a College Football Hall of Famer who played nine years in the NFL.

Dorney could see a parallel between his experience and the failures of others to confront Paterno over Sandusky. While his experience was vastly different, the influencing force was the same — intimidation. People didn't want to spit in the face of Superman.

"When those janitors failed to come forward, I could understand," said Dorney. "They didn't want to lose their jobs. So many people were jumping over Mike McQueary (assistant coach) for not taking more action, but I could understand what he was going through. I have a lot of empathy for Mike."

ESPN's Mark May, a college football Hall of Famer and a two-time starter in the Super Bowl, said this was the worst sports scandal in his lifetime. Which prompted the following question to Dorney.

Would he agree that baseball's steroid era seems like a pillow fight in comparison to this?

"Absolutely," Dorney said. "Pedophilia is the most heinous of all crimes. Jerry Sandusky is a pedophile, and the worst kind ... he was using his job to lure the boys in, like he was a pimp, so to speak."

That Paterno never spoke to Sandusky once about his shower activities, that none of the three administrators ever confronted the defensive coach, befuddles Dorney. He wonders what happened before 1998, when the first Sandusky incident was reported. Dorney doubts that Sandusky didn't start acting out his sickness until then.

"If I was a recruit today going to Penn State," Dorney said, "I don't know if I could shower in those showers Sandusky was in. I don't think I could walk by the office Sandusky was in."

Dorney used to speak glowingly of Penn State. He knows he will never speak that way again. Time is supposed to heal all wounds but how long will it take to heal this knife gash to the stomach? How do you reconcile "success with honor," Paterno's rallying theme, with the same man who wanted to avoid bad publicity for his football team by allowing Sandusky to prey on the innocent?

Dorney has a heck of a headache over this one.

"Look at all those millions (of dollars) Joe and Sue (Paterno's wife) were throwing at the university these last few years," Dorney said. "Is that out of guilt? I mean, really."

It chills Dorney to the core. Right now, concerning Joe Paterno, no question is out of bounds. Not anymore.

For more North Bay sports go to Bob Padecky's blog at padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.