I honestly never thought I would have to write about this. Joe Paterno, the greatest college football coach of all time has died. He passed away Sunday morning. And the last months of his life were embroiled with scandal. But I don't want to talk or write about that right now. Instead, I'm going to write about the Joe I remember, the Joe I saw.
Joe Paterno has had an impact on my life for as long as I can remember. When I was little, very little, Joe Paterno was taking his Nittany Lions, my favorite team, into a tough game against the Miami Hurricanes. And all week, I had heard my Dad talking about Miami Penn State, Miami Penn State. So being the logical 4 year old that I was, I went around asking people who their ami was, since Miami was Penn State. And that's just the first thing I remember about Joe Pa and Penn State.
As I grew up, Penn State football became something that brought my family together. We would all go to my Uncle Ned's house on New Year's day to watch Penn State crush their opponents in their Bowl game. And Joe Pa always delivered. His teams played well, and we would sit around the TV and watch my childhood idol take yet another team to victory.
Then I went to Penn State. And the family closeness didn't end there. Every Penn State game I went to had 2 things in common. A tailgate with my roommate's dad, brother and grandfather, and Joe Paterno. And it had been the same way for my roommate's Dad. We would pass the time before the game eating, and telling stories about games we had been to or watched before. Then we would all go inside the Beaver Stadium, and watch Joe Paterno work his magic on the football field.
And Joe made college football a game unlike any other school. Everyone knows about Joe. About his famous edicts. Black shoes makes it harder to scout your teams speed. So Joe's players all wore black shoes. No exceptions. Joe's players were dressed well, they spoke well to the media. Coming to Penn State meant you were coming to a team, not a place to show off your skills. There was no name on a Penn State jersey. There never has been, and there never will be.
As much we found out Joe had his faults at the end of his life, the example that he tried to show to his players and to the students at his school was important. Work hard, be loyal, give back to your community. Don't take all the accolades for yourself, because your success is due to the hard work of everyone else on your team.
And with the passing of Joe, it is the end of a great era of football. Joe Paterno will be the last legendary coach. There will be coaches who win national championships, and win lots of games. But no coach will have the charisma, the aura of Joe Paterno.
So goodbye Joe. I'll miss you. And Joe, never forget...
WE ARE!!! PENN STATE!!!