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Forrest Griffin, Joe Paterno, and Penn State child sex scandal (updated w/ Dana White comments)

By Zach Arnold | November 11, 2011

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Joe Paterno, the king of the collegiate institution known as Penn State, was fired tonight after the arrest of his former football defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, who has been accused of raping multiple children. As Jay Bilas opined today on ESPN, a conspiracy of cowardice.

Memo to athletes and media personalities: this is a real sex scandal. Rape and child abuse are not issues to crack jokes about. This is not something to make light of, especially when it involves allegations regarding defenseless or impressionable children. Forrest Griffin, regrettably, didn’t get that memo. Let’s have Brett Okamoto of ESPN sum it up for you:

But (Griffin’s) recent tweets making light of rape during the emotional pitch of the Penn State situation fell flatly over to the side of poor taste. Griffin tweeted “rape is the new missionary,” after a series of other tweets to that end that have since been deleted. It must have struck him as witty, because he actually tweeted it twice. Funny never showed up, and he continued his tirade as the backlash rolled in. “Following me is a privilege” he wrote to somebody who unfollowed him. After offending at least one female follower, he apologized and tweeted, “I’m sorry I’m gonna go ahead and put myself on twitter restriction until next week.”

“I wouldn’t apologize because I didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t think. I didn’t commit a crime,” he said. “I didn’t kill anyone or rape anyone or anything like that. I mean, I stated my opinion, and it seems like you get more backlash for that than committing a real crime in some sense. I feel like I didn’t do anything wrong. I just said what everybody else was thinking.”

Child sex abuse is not a topic to joke about. Rape isn’t a topic to joke about. Period. The fact that anyone thinks this is a topic where you can find some sort of morbid humor is absurd. It’s also bad judgment and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that concept out, either.

And this is not the week to piss off Dana White. He’s in ultra-Vince McMahon mode right now and doesn’t need to deal with any more BS:

“People are always like, ‘How do you feel?’” White said. “I’m sick. I haven’t slept in four days. I’m a basket case right now. I’m more of a control freak than I’ve ever been.

“Ask me on Monday how I feel. Right now, it’s not good. If I don’t drop dead by Saturday, it’ll be a good thing.”

An admitted “control freak,” White is most concerned over the matters he has no control of. He literally shivered when asked what the promotion would do if Velasquez or Dos Santos managed to injure himself before Saturday.

Dana White has to make a major statement here with Forrest Griffin. He’s let slurs by fighters like Michael Bisping slide. However, we are dealing with an scandal involving one of the most disgusting situations you could possibly imagine and it’s drawing international attention. I believe in free speech, but I also believe that there can be consequences to what you say in regards to you say publicly while expressing those rights. I don’t care if you classify Forrest as an ‘independent contractor’ even though the relationship is more like employer/employee.

UFC signed a lucrative deal with Fox. Fox agreed to spend a significant amount of cash to sign, seal, and deliver a deal with a property where Zuffa’s edgy behavior has been rewarded in the past. Now we’ll see just how well that edgy behavior meshes with real corporate America. Forrest’s comments signal a test case in regards to what kind of tolerance Fox will have for this kind of behavior.

Update: Forrest Griffin apologizes for rape tweet, makes donation to rape crisis center

Meanwhile, Dana White addressed the situation with Mauro Ranallo during this media interview:

DANA WHITE: “It wasn’t a joke. No, it wasn’t a joke. So, I’m actually glad you asked me that question. What happened was, I contacted Forrest and Forrest is a mess now about this whole thing. And, believe me, take it from a guy who’s been in this situation… what happened was Forrest Griffin said he woke up that morning and turned on his television and the whole thing about Paterno and what’s going on over there at Penn State, he said he literally switched the channel to another channel and they were talking about a woman who had been raped. The third channel he went to was doing a story about rape. Every channel he went to, and his thing was rape is the new missionary, like it’s vanilla, like it’s absolutely normal when you change the channel it’s on every friggin’ channel.”

MAURO RANALLO: “You see how it could have been misinterpreted, though?”

DANA WHITE: “No, I know exactly how it was misinterpreted. You don’t go out on Twitter where you can only do so many characters and put something out there like that. Then, once everybody started attacking him, he started attacking back on Twitter, you know? It’s one of those situations.

“Let me tell you what, man, and I’m the first guy that always say people will make mistakes and this and that will happen and all this stuff. Forrest Griffin is a very, very good human being and I’m not talking just to people and everything else… there’s this, uh, there’s this, uh, charity in Las Vegas called (Three Square) and I guess something crazy like 300,000 kids in the Vegas area go to school without eating every day, right? The only meal they eat every day is lunch at school. So, on Friday, when they go home, they don’t eat again until Monday’s lunch, right? So, we were getting involved in this charity and seeing how we could help and the lady who runs it says, you know Forrest Griffin, right? And we’re like, right, of course, we know Forrest Griffin. She says, well, he came down and he would come in and came down to volunteer, would start cooking and pack lunches and do all this stuff and every time he would leave he’d write a check. He goes in there and works for free, would write a check every time he’d leave, and then they ended up finding out that he was from the UFC and he was a UFC fighter because they’re not all big UFC fans over at that place.

“So, uh, just the small glimpse of the type of person that Forrest Griffin is and I talked to him as soon as I saw this thing and I’m telling you, I’m not jumping out and sticking up for my guy, that is what he meant. He chose the wrong platform to do it on and, um, and he is, he’s pretty busted up over it. Do we need to be more careful? Yes we do. Choosing Twitter as a platform to say something in three words, you know, that can be COMPLETELY misunderstood the way that it was… I mean, if you look at it for what it was, when he says that rape is the new missionary, it doesn’t even make sense. It makes no sense. But when I explain to you on what he meant, then you’re like, OK, I get it now, it makes sense. Yes, you need to be more careful in some of the decisions we make and some of the, uh, you know, some of the things that we say.”

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 24 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

24 Responses to “Forrest Griffin, Joe Paterno, and Penn State child sex scandal (updated w/ Dana White comments)”

  1. klown says:

    Thank you.

    Say what you like, deal with the consequences. Be held accountable for what you said.

  2. Rodney says:

    Forrest can say what he wants and anyone else as far as that goes. He had no ill intent. People need to lighten up a bit. What fool would write a whole article about a twitter post of Forrest’s. Sounds like someone has way too much time on their hands.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Forrest can say what he wants and anyone else as far as that goes. He had no ill intent. People need to lighten up a bit. What fool would write a whole article about a twitter post of Forrest’s. Sounds like someone has way too much time on their hands.

      If I worked in an office environment and made a joke about child rape/abuse allegations in e-mail, I would be fired and I sure as hell wouldn’t get a letter of recommendation for future employment.

      UFC is now with Fox. This sport is big business. The ‘renegade’ rules of the past are about to be put to the test with the new corporate alliance.

      • noob says:

        Dude relax if Forrest was paid to talk then yeah but he’s not so STFU… the only reason i read this article was cuz i was checking out this site. But now im thinking this site is filled with writers who like to babble

        • Bad News Allen says:

          He is paid to talk…he writes books and just won a twitter bonus from the UFC for his creative tweets.

    • Light23 says:

      What Forrest said was wrong and people should point that out to him, but dragging him over the coals is an overreaction. Person makes dumb insensitive joke. If Joe Paterno is only fired when he turns a blind eye to child rape, what is the appropriate reaction to someone who just makes an insensitive joke about it?

    • This is pretty much the dumbest possible attitude anyone can take on this situation: it’s worth talking about because he happened to say it on one of the biggest weekends for the UFC ever, and it was in poor taste. Free speech is not a bulletproof vest.

      Anyway, thanks to Zach for linking to my article. It’s nice to see the topic get some attention here at FO.

  3. Shaq says:

    I think some people don’t understand what the social networks are all about. It’s not your private corner, not even the company of close friends who know you good enough and will not be offended by any of your jokes.

    It’s just a circle of the people who don’t know you as the person, so their opinion is all about one hundred letters in your Twitter.

    “Think twice before you tweet” is damn good advise. I can only add that it’s better to think about the possible consequenses even more than twice, if you have more than 10 followers.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Penn State = A Whole Heap Of Messed Up…. On every level. The fact that the head coach is staying the rest of the year shows how much more the school cares about it’s football program then the victims.

    Forrest Griffin = A unique personality with a strange sense of humor. Nothing more, nothing less. Inappropriate? Sure. That’s about it.

    This isn’t really MMA news….

    The real news of the day is that the details of the UFC/FOX deal are now emerging even more.

    1) FOX Programs will be 90 minutes. FX programs will be 2 hours. FuelTV programs will be 3 hours.

    2) FX will have the 1 hour prelim shows before the PPV’s. This is a big one.

    3) FUEL TV is now basically going to become a UFC channel. 25% of their content will be UFC. Every undercard fight will now air on that station (instead of Facebook). Even some of the international TUFs. It’s obvious that FOX is going to use the UFC to get FUEL TV into more homes. Hopefully in HD soon for my cable provider.

    From those details, the UFC’s deal with FOX is already better then what they had on SpikeTV. And if FUEL TV increases into more homes, the deal just continues to get sweeter and sweeter….

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Just saw the news that Penn State Board of Trustee’s finally did the right thing and just fired Joe.

      What a scum bag. The entire lot of them. Sadly, I expect this sort of behavior out of most football coaches. They put the sport to be so big in their minds, that they don’t want anything to get in the way.

  5. BuddyRowe says:

    I haven’t seen all of Forrest’s tweets but it doesn’t seem like he was refferring to the Penn State situation at all. Just making a dumb joke.
    I don’t understand why anybody thinks Forrest deserves specific punishment. Aren’t the consequences self evident? Anybody who is offended by what he said will lower their esteem of him and any sponsors who are sensitive will not risk supporting him. Why add more punishment on top of the obvious automatic consequences?

    • Keith Harris says:

      Forrest did mention the Penn State situation in a tweet which has since been deleted when responding to someone who was offended by his rape joke. It wasn’t very tasteful either and added more fuel to the fire.

      I think some sort of punishment by UFC is necessary as such nonsense reflects badly on their company and the sport of MMA as a whole. Something like this was bound to happen and really UFC when encouraging all their fighters to get on Twitter and Facebook should have been proactive in telling them what they would be best advised not to post.

  6. Dave says:

    Here is the thing about Forrest.

    He is one of the more public and notable UFC fighters, which puts him in the spotlight, and he is known for his personality. The media who have dealt with him know his ‘other’ personality, but to fans he is that funny, self-deprecating guy.

    This wasn’t the first time he had been joking about rape on his Twitter, so I’m really sure that the Penn State thing wasn’t his only motivator for joking about it. He actually jokes about rape all of the time. The problem, beyond that being in very poor taste, is that he was just given a bonus from the UFC for “most creative” use of Twitter.

    So now UFC is telling people that RAPE = CREATIVE.

  7. klown says:

    I’m proud of the MMA media for spotlighting the Griffin Twitter fiasco. It restores my faith in the people who love the sport. The average fan reactions (judging by comments on the MMA blogs) seem split down the middle, which is better than I would have expected. It doesn’t surprise me that the average sports fan lacks awareness/conscience on issues like these. Change starts with the leaders and role models, which ideally would be fighters and UFC management, and failing that, with journalists and opinion makers.

    Congratulations to the MMA media for passing this crucial test.

    • edub says:

      A funny thing I find here is Ashton Kutcher. He didn’t make a very ill-advised joke, but he tried to degrade the PSU board of trustees after Joe was fired. He went back and admitted that he was wrong after reading the whole story. He then in turn handed over control of his twitter account to his management team.

      Moral of the story is; It’s sad when Kelso is more intelligent than a guy who’s written best sellers.

  8. ttt says:

    this is totally off-topic but didn’t know how else to ask; zach do you have any opinions on the whole Olympus thing going down? that seems the kinda thing that would be your expertise.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      this is totally off-topic but didn’t know how else to ask; zach do you have any opinions on the whole Olympus thing going down? that seems the kinda thing that would be your expertise.

      100% unsurprised. This is a country where image has always been the most important factor. Yes, ‘trust’ is the main selling point, but ‘trust’ by Japanese standards often is about image, appearance, on the surface.

      It’s no different than the fight scene. What looks on the surface is not always what’s happening in reality. Look at all the unpaid fighters. Japan’s legal system doesn’t have the teeth to really slam the door shut on the yakuza and if you’re a prosecutor, you can be easily threatened and that hurts a relationship between police/DA in going after criminal activity effectively.

      Plus, worker rights (in my opinion) are pretty lousy. 2 years as the statute of limitations in regards to filing legal action against a company if you don’t get paid? The Japan way has always been to bit your lip (like the British) and carry forward. Part of that is cultural and part of that is because of the power of the yakuza. Talk to some Japanese people and you’ll hear a lot of times them say that whenever there is yakuza, they turn the other way and don’t look.

      There are just some things hardcoded in the DNA of that culture that I don’t see changing any time soon.

      • ttt says:

        appreciate the response zach. doesn’t seem entirely unpredictable and makes you wonder about any other companies pulling off similar schemes.

  9. Jason Gatties says:

    Pretty sure we won’t see any sort of comment out of Zack here. As has been the case for years, he jumps on top of his soap box, pretending to be a legit journalist but fails to follow up and give props when they are earned.

    No need for the UFC to get involved, Forrest Griffin knows all about personal responsibility and took action.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Pretty sure we won’t see any sort of comment out of Zack here. As has been the case for years, he jumps on top of his soap box, pretending to be a legit journalist but fails to follow up and give props when they are earned.

      No need for the UFC to get involved, Forrest Griffin knows all about personal responsibility and took action.

      You’re wrong, as usual, but that’s not the first time.

      The post has been updated further.

  10. Black Dog says:

    I can’t wait for Sonnen and Rogan’s cracks about it. Those will make Griffin’s idiotic comments pale in comparison.

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