Sunday, January 22, 2012

Paying Homage to One of the Greatest of All Time: Joe Paterno

I didn't want to write about this, due to my strong emotions on this topic, but I'd be remiss if I didn't. Today, we lost one of the greatest, if not THE greatest coach of all time in Joe Paterno. Paterno didn't just coach at Penn State. For almost a half a century, HE was Penn State. No one has won more games than him. Only Amos Alonzo Stagg coached as many games, in fact, they're tied. He had 3 undefeated teams, knocked off the goliath that was "The U" for a national title.
I could go on and on and on about "Joe Pa" and his on field accomplishments, but what will forever endear him to State College, PA was his love to Pennsylvania State University. Forget Brown University, the Ivy League school he attended, his alma mater, the man had donated millions to the improvements to PSU's library and academic departments. Not to mention, being an example of a great man to every athlete that strapped on the blue and white and played inside of Beaver Stadium. Over 300 of his players signed NFL contracts. Most comeback to finish their degrees.
Most would have loved for Joe to coach as long as he wanted. He loved Penn State and students and alumni loved him back. Joe lived right down the street from the stadium. Not in some gigantic mansion in the suburbs of Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. He was a part of "Happy Valley." Hell, he MADE "Happy Valley."
Yet what Joe loved so much, Penn State, is what led to the events today and why I even writing this post. Without a doubt, what Jerry Sandusky, the man who was once tabbed to be head coach after Paterno retired, did is absolutely inexcusable and will probably spend a long time in jail for it. But at this point, the board of trustees at Penn State should be following Sandusky to the cell. I can understand the need to make change, but the way it was done, to fire a man who gave this university his life after college, who brought so much good to the university, because his higher UPS didn't open their mouths after he reported what happened to them? You didn't just fire the signed his death warrant. When you take the one thing that a man loves away, whether it be a wife, a job, a home, what does he live for afterwards? The thing is, the man typically doesn't live much longer. And in Paterno's case, he had two of the three taken from him. Someone said on SportsCenter (I believe it was Lou Holtz) today that once he was fired, he wouldn't live six months. They were wrong. He didn't make it three.
But his legacy shall not be tarnished by what happened the last four months of 2011. His legacy is DEFINED by the 40+ years before that as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions.
So Joseph Vincent Paterno, you may finally rest in peace. No one wanted you to leave, but now you can lead God's team to the National Championship in the sky. I don't think there is a argument, you were, are and always will be the greatest coach in college football.
Rest in Peace, Joe Pa. You touched so many lives. You've done so much. Thank You may never be enough, but for lack of a better term, Thank You.
God Bless You, and "We Are..."
"...Penn State!"

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