Having covered Penn State football all of my professional life and most of Jerry Sandusky's career as a Nittany Lion defensive coordinator, I have only two prevailing thoughts in the wake of his conviction on 45 counts of sexual abuse:
I'm sick, and I'm sad.
I'm sad that someone who masqueraded himself as a humanitarian - regarded as one of the greatest people in college sports - was operating as a serial pedophile under our noses.
I'm sick that young boys whose trust he acquired through a charade known as The Second Mile were violated in such an unspeakable way.
I'm sad that a university many of us have believed in would actually have spent more effort over the years defending the confidentiality of its football coach's salary than defending children being sexually abused on its campus.
I'm sick that this university was informed of the abuse by its own employees and yet did not ban Sandusky from its grounds.
I'm sad longtime Penn State assistant coach Dick Anderson would serve as a character witness for Sandusky and attempt to justify how showering with young boys was acceptable behavior.
I'm sick that those closest to Sandusky - his family and his football family - did not know more and/or do more to stop his abuse.
I'm sad that an organization like The Second Mile, with a good mission, totally looked the other way while charging higher prices than virtually every other annual fundraising dinner in town.
I'm sick that Sandusky may have created The Second Mile as a haven to abuse young boys.
I'm sad to wonder if Sandusky, whose parents ran a boys home for underprivileged youth similar to The Second Mile in his hometown of Washington, Pa., might have been a victim of abuse himself.
I'm sick to think if eight victims were willing to testify against him in this high-profile media world, how many dozens of others he also abused.
I'm sad that Penn State will never fully escape the stigma associated with this case.
And I'm sick that an institution's unwillingness to damage its brand when Sandusky could have been charged 14 years ago brought us here today.
Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Full disclosure: He served as emcee for the last three Second Mile fundraisers held in Blair County (2009-11)