EDITOR'S INK: It actually hurts
To say that Sunday was a sad day in the Penn State world is true enough, but unfortunately sad is not nearly a strong enough word. It actually hurts.
The decades upon decades of impact made on the Pennsylvania State University, its athletic program, its football program and its students by Joe Paterno and its enduring legacy cannot be measured. It will never be forgotten.
The last three months of persecution this man endured is inexcusable. It also will never be forgotten.
To know me is to know that — I am! Penn State! My brothers planted that seed many years ago and I gladly grew with it. I proudly wore the colors when the scoreboard showed good years and not-so-good years. I took it to State College where I earned a communications degree. And I’ve done a good share of Penn State brainwashing of the younger generation.
Like most Penn State students, I never met Joe Paterno. One didn’t need to know Joe personally to understand his impact, not just on football, but on Penn State. No matter what, that will be forever unmatched.
Yes, I have that unquestioned devotion to Joe Paterno as do thousands of others. Call it a cult or drinking the koolaid or whatever you’d like, but many of us believe that this man deserved it on all levels. Our belief is that Joe Paterno did what he believed was right for the benefit of the athletes he was hired to coach, the students on the campus where he worked and the university to which he was devoted. We all can only dream of having that kind of impact.
And Joe Paterno never put himself on a pedestal. That’s all the more reason he deserved to be remembered without any extra asterisk, paragraph or footnote to his unparalleled life.
It is much more than a shame that this man was not allowed to make his own call on exiting the program that he essentially created. I have always said that if there is one person on earth who deserved to make that decision on his own, it was Joe Paterno. The past three months did nothing to change my mind.
Now we have lost a legend, an icon, a philanthropist, a coach, a mentor, an educator. The Paterno family has lost more — a husband, a father and a grandfather. I pray that Joe is at peace in his eternal home. It is truly a blessing that he will no longer have to endure any longer what was done to him in the last few months of his earthly life.
I had a few classes at Penn State with Todd Blackledge, national championship Nittany Lion quarterback and now television football analyst. Blackledge was the first person I heard say Sunday that Joe Paterno died of a broken heart. Blackledge added that that broke his heart. Amen.
While us Penn Staters take real pride in saying — We are! Penn State!, we know that really it is — Joe is! Penn State! Rest in peace with God, Joe.