Archived Story

Legend will be missed by many

Published 5:57am Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We lost a legend this week. If you haven’t heard yet – because you don’t like sports, don’t own a TV or really like camping – Joe Paterno died at the age of 85.

He had been diagnosed with a form of lung cancer, but doctors said that what he had was “highly treatable.”

Apparently it was worse than expected, or there were other factors at work that contributed to his demise.

JoePa had been a coach at some level at Penn State since 1950. He took over as head coach in 1965. He would go on to hold that title for 47 years.

He was ousted from the program on Nov. 9 over failing to follow up with the athletic director over an allegation made by a graduate assistant that former assistant Jerry Sandusky had sexually assaulted a young boy in the locker room shower.

Members of the board of trustees have received death threats since canning JoePa, and a riot took place at Penn State in State College after the news broke.

I remember talking to a few people about the situation, and I surmised that JoePa would not know what to do without being a football coach.

The only plausible explanation to me as to why he stayed for so long is that he never wanted to quit.

I often said that Paterno would drop dead of something or other eventually, but he would do it on the sideline of a football game.

It turns out I was partially correct. I was wrong in that he was no longer a head football coach, let alone at Penn State, but I was right about one thing.

I believe that he died of a broken heart after being told – over the phone I might add – that he was no longer the coach of the sport he loved at the institution he loved more.

The man gave up a lot of money to better the surroundings and stay of many students. His name is on the library and a spiritual center at Penn State due to his charitable contributions.

He and his wife Sue donated over $4 million during his tenure at Penn State, and the number of guests he and his wife had for dinner over the years was in the thousands.

I was right that he would die on the sideline. He was taken away from the sport he loved and a little over two months later he was dead after being sidelined from his job. That’s no coincidence.

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