I love Joe Paterno. Well, loved. I realize many, many people don't understand this and never will, and that is okay. I won't bother to try to explain it, because, as I said in a Facebook post this morning, I can't. But there are people out there who do get it. All of whom know what the expected response is to, "We are." And I guess those of us can take comfort in this shared experience.
As someone else said on Facebook this morning, “I would hope that my life would be judged as a whole and not just by some bad choices.”
That is the thing that too many people have overlooked. Joe Paterno did not molest any boys. Joe Paterno did not shower with any boys. He is not a monster. Yes, he should have done more, which he has said, “This is a tragedy. It is one of the greatest sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.” But I think in many ways he has been judged more harshly that the actual perp. And, keep in mind, Sandusky has still not gone to trial. He may never be found guilty. And, let's face it, there is a chance (a minuscule one, for sure) that Sandusky did not even do all or most of what he has been accused of. That thought has crossed my mind more than once. Particularly when I think about how JoePa, after 60-some years of dedication at Penn State, was fired via a phone call. That still breaks my heart.
But I don't want to focus on those things. I want to focus on the dedication of a man who loved Penn State. A man who could have gone on to bigger and better things, but never did. A man who just recently donated $100,000 to the University, even after all that had happened.
I wanted to add this, which I just read in the PG. It is pretty telling of the kind of person JoePa was:
We are...Mr. Paterno also turned down the Green Bay Packers in 1970 and a five-year, $1.3 million offer from the New England Patriots in 1972. At that time, his annual salary was $32,000. "No one deserves a million dollars just to coach a football team, Mr. Paterno said. "A lot of young coaches make the mistake of jumping from place to place. They never leave much of themselves anywhere. "I never wanted to do that. I didn't want to be just another coach. All I wanted to do was have an impact on Penn State."
Rest in peace, JoePa. May your family find the comfort and support they need. I hope their knowing all the great things you did and all that you were to so many people will help them.