In a somewhat strange move, Joe Paterno’s will was recently ordered to be permanently sealed at the request of a family attorney.
Paterno, the former head football coach of Penn State University, died in January at age 85. He coached the Nittany Lions for over four decades but, ultimately, was forced out of his position by Penn State’s board of trustees after the school found itself mired in the Jerry Sandusky Child Molestation Scandal.
On Sunday, a spokesman insisted that the decision to seal Paterno will was made by his family’s desire to maintain “a measure of privacy" and that it wasn’t “an unusual request for high-profile individuals."
In a statement to the Associated Press, here is how Dan McGinn (the family’s spokesman) justified the decision:
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"This is not an unusual request for high-profile individuals, and all parties to the will and the judge readily agreed to the request," McGinn wrote. "The Paterno family has been totally transparent with respect to Coach Paterno's contract and pension. Sue Paterno has also reiterated her commitment to support charitable causes connected to Penn State and the State College community. These efforts will continue."
The truth is, however, that some people think it is pretty unusual. Per the Christian Science Monitor:
The decision was "very strange," Wilkes-Barre attorney Jerry Chariton, who has worked on estate law cases for four decades, told the paper.
"Would there be reasons why any family would like to preserve confidentiality? Sure, but that would be true of lots of people," Chariton said. "I don't know what creates any special situation here."
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CSM also noted that Paterno’s will was the only one sealed in his county in the past year and a half.
The most obvious explanation for all of the secrecy is that his family simply doesn’t want to reveal how much he was paid by Penn State. Throughout his lengthy career, Paterno always made it a point to avoid broaching the subject of salary. And so, given his history, it would stand to reason that he would want to maintain the same level of privacy in death as he did over the course of his entire life.