Jan 22

The Grand Paterno: Joe Paterno, Greatest College Coach Ever, Dies at 85

When asked why he wouldn’t retire from coaching college football, Penn St legend Joe Paterno simply said “I have nothing else to do, I have no hobbies, if I leave this game, I’ll die.”

When you think of Joe Paterno’s legacy, do not think of what has happened in the last six months, although horrifying. Instead of stating the obvious gruesome six months, remember the last 60 years.

To get the ugly out before the beauty, we would like to remember Joe Paterno as Joe Paterno, not Jerry Sandusky.

Since 1950, Paterno has been on the staff of the Penn St football team. From 1966-2011 Paterno was the Head coach for the Nittany Lions, and coached five undefeated teams. As the football world mourns the loss of a true legend, the outside world wonders, could Paterno have done more in the Sandusky case.

Short answer: yes. Complicated answer: could you put yourself in Paterno’s shoes? This is not a debate or even a discussion on the Jerry Sandusky/Penn St/Joe Paterno case, this is a remembrance to the greatest head coach of all time.

When I was honored to do my first ever interview with an NFL player it was with Penn St alum, and at the time Lions WR Derrick Williams. Williams himself stated that Paterno “made young guys into grown men. He prepared you for life after football.”

In so much of what was a changing world, one constant remained, his name was Joe Paterno. The way he coached, the way he spoke, the way he lived,  and the way he went about every day never changed. Such a beloved figured for the majority of his life, Joe Paterno was Penn St University.

To end the discussion of the horrific Sandusky case Paterno did say “he could have done more” don’t worry Joe Pa, we don’t hate you. Paterno wasn’t just a head coach, he donated over four million dollars to the Penn St academic department (library) and if there was ever a dictionary of inspirational quotes the author would be Joe Paterno.

I share some of my most favorite Joe Paterno quotes:

“Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.”

“Publicity is like poison; it doesn’t hurt unless you swallow it.”

“Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy.”

“Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart, and mind, confidence is the key to all the locks.”

“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.”

When you sit back and watch highlights of the current NFL championship games taking place this weekend, think about the same NFL championship games that took place 50 years ago, because 50 years ago, Joe Paterno was the head coach of the Penn St Nittany Lions.

A two time national champion, a legendary head coach, a family man, but more importantly regardless of scenarios around him, Joe Paterno was a respected man.

He wasn’t the grumpy old man who lives on your block, he truly was the grandfather that everyone wanted. Paterno’s father Angelo told Joe when he went to coaching “make an impact” and over the last 60 years, Joe Paterno didn’t just make an impact,  he created one.

The impact Joe Paterno created will be passed on for generations to come thanks to not only the football players at Penn St, but those that ever came across the man, Joe Paterno.

409 wins, most, all-time ever, still do not put in measure what Paterno did for Penn St University. As a writer I would openly admit that I will always say it sucks that I never got to shake the hand of this great man, but his legend lives on.

Roll up the pants, show the white socks, and raise your finger in the air Joe Pa, you are the Greatest Nittany Lion there will ever be. In the ever changing economy that we live in, think if you can ever work at the same place for 50 years, then realize that Joe Paterno was part of the Penn St family for 62 years.

You don’t have to be a Penn St football player, you don’t even have to be a Penn St alum, but if you ever hear the name Joe Paterno think of the man who gave his entire life to one place, and think of the man who never quit, that man died of a broken heart.

Rest In Peace Mr. Joe Paterno.

May the roar of the greatest Nittany Lion ring throughout the country.

Only Joe Paterno could tell President Nixon to shove it.

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