A Sheep in Lions’ clothing

A Sheep in Lions’ clothing … that’s just the sort of moronic pun that would elicit a visit from the grand poobah of journalistic dignity and literary propriety at the word-manufacturing plant where I spend my workdays.

By now you’ve probably heard the fate of poor James Sheep, the hard-working Penn State senior who climbs inside that cuddly Nittany Lions outfit, does the one-handed push-ups and allows himself to be passed from inebriated student to inebriated student during football games at Beaver Stadium.

Yes, the fabled Nittany Lion was arrested on a DUI charge, and school officials said he could be left off the traveling squad for Penn State’s Jan. 1 visit to the Rose Bowl.

After one careless night of serving as chauffeur to a Beverly Hillbillies-sized contingent of shitfaced friends and acquaintances, he’s a national whipping boy. One anonymous Photoshop wag produced the following reaction to Sheep’s night of infamy:

Enough already! OK, just one more.

Enough already! OK, OK, just one more.

It’s just not fair. Sheep’s just following the herd. Keeping up with the Joneses. And Scirrottos. And Bells. You might have noticed that Penn State, home of Joe Paterno’s grand experiment, has been catching up on a lot of the bad press its missed out on over most of the coach’s neverending reign.

Could it be that Sheep’s bad behavior is the unfortunate result of his toxic environment?

Since 2002, a slash-and-burn investigation by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” discovered that 46 Penn State football players have faced 163 criminal charges. Twenty-seven players have been convicted of or have pleaded guilty to a combined 45 counts.

That’s a lot of bad role models, let me tell you.

So, before you rush to judgment and join the mob salivating to pillory Sheep, pause for a moment to consider what you might’ve done had you spent a season or two in his costume and running with a pack of unsavory Lions.

Editor’s note: During the Michigan State game, on the afternoon following his unfortunate arrest, Sheep was honored for serving as the mascot for nearly two years. Now that’s good, wholesome news your children and neighbors can benefit from.

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