One was the smiling, grandfatherly architect of Penn State's legendary defense, the man who put together 'Linebacker U.'
The other was a former high-ranking official of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, now a parish priest. Not just any parish priest - my parish priest.
This morning both are in jail.
And maybe the rest of us can start to see our way out of this prison of grim daily reports on the horrific things adults can do to children.
To be honest, I'm a little numb. And just overwhelmingly sad.
Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse of children. Monsignor William Lynn was convicted of a single count of endangering the welfare of children. In a mixed verdict, he was acquitted of a second endangerment charge, as well as a conspiracy charge.
This morning both are behind bars. That's about the only thing they have in common, that and the fact that their trials came to an explosive conclusion in one of the most historic days in the annals of Pennsylvania justice.
Sandusky was the self-described 'tickle monster.' Lynn was a priest, for God's sake. His crime was following the orders and policies laid out by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and Cardinal John Krol before him. It became clear during Lynn's trial that what was paramount was the reputation of the church, not the scarred souls of all those kids who had been abused by men who used a collar to shield them from justice, who believed they were above the law, and who were aided in their perversion by their superiors in the church.
It was a day many had been waiting on for decades, still unsure if the notion of 'justice' would ever come.
The verdicts in the Lynn case arrived in early afternoon, a decidedly mixed decision, a single guilty verdict against the monsignor, not guilty verdicts on two other charges, and a hung jury on the charges against his co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan. A mistrial was declared in the Brennan case. D.A. Seth Williams will have to decide whether to retry him.
Then, as is always the case in these big cases, came the rush to the microphones, with both sides finally getting the opportunity to speak about the case once the gag order was lifted.
Advocates for victims' rights hailed the single guilty verdict as a landmark moment in the long, sordid history of the church's dealing with child sexual abuse by priests. Monsignor Lynn's defense lawyers depicted a man who was 'upset, crushed' both by the verdict and the nasty things the district attorney's office had been saying about him
The D.A. held the case out as a signal to the church and others that institutions will no longer be protected in the way they deal with those suspected of child sexual abuse.
I'm not so sure.
Than again, I was the one telling people back in 2003 not to be surprised if they see this guy beding hauled off in handcuffs one day.
That was my initial reaction after reading the gut-wrenching first grand jury report on child sexual abuse by priests in the Philadelphia archdiocese, and the systematic - and systemic - way the church protected its own. It made clear that problem priests were moved from parish to parish, where they were allowed to prey on innocent kids.
It was not a popular opinion at the time. Many stood by Monsignor Lynn, blasting the grand jury report as an anti-Catholic witch hunt. I asked those who confronted me if they had read it. Most had not. No charges were filed after that report, in large part because the statute of limitations had expired.
What would not expire was the ugly truth of what the church was doing, and Monsignor Lynn's role in it as secretary of the clergy.
In February 2011, another grand jury issued another scathing report, only this one resulted in criminal charges. Against Lynn. Against Brennan. And while not specifically named, in truth against Bevilacqua and the church.
When I first wrote about the charges filed against Monsignor Lynn, those columns were not particularly well received at my parish, St. Joseph's in Downingtown. The monsignor was our parish priest, and he was very well-liked. To this day - or at least last week - his name still appeared in the parish bulletin.
It remained inconceivable to many that this good man could be the same person facing criminal charges, whose actions came under such withering criticism by two grand juries.
I imagine some people out in Happy Valley felt the same way about Sandusky.
I was always fascinated by the symmetry of the two cases. They both involve horrific actions against children, and supervisors who looked the other way, more concerned about the reputations of their institutions than the battered psyches of abused kids.
Two hallowed, respected organizations, the Catholic church in Philadelphia, and the church of Penn State football, were laid bare in these two cases. It has cost the church untold turmoil; for the school, the shredding of its sterling reputation. And the downfall of its legendary coach, Joe Paterno, who was jettisoned in the tumultous fallout from the Sandusky affair.
This morning there is justice. And two men in jail. Sandusky likely will spend the rest of life there. It is my sincere hope that Monsignor Lynn does not. Call me soft-hearted if you like, but I can see no redeeming value in putting a 61-year-old priest in jail. Call it the angst of an old altar boy. I'll leave that for the lawyers to figure out.
More than that, there is no joy this morning, despite the cheering that accompanied the scene outside court last night in the aftermath of the of the Sandusky verdict. This wasn't a football game. It's a tragedy.
This morning two men sit in jail. Justice has been served, but an overwhelming sense of sadness of the cost remains.
And maybe, just maybe, all those kids victimized first by these predators, then by institutions that were supposed to protect them, can start to unlock the jail cells that have been their personal hell for so long.