Sadly, I was not surprised by the news of his death. Can you imagine what this 85 year old man was feeling when he was abruptly fired in November? Paterno spent most of his life making Penn State one of the most prestigious universities and football programs in the country. It is not crazy to think that he simply lost his will to live. Penn State football was all Paterno knew for the last sixty years.
Of course, Paterno's legacy will now be forever tarnished by the terrible Jerry Sandusky situation. Sure, a man in Paterno's position should have morally done more to make sure that the victims were being protected. But let's not forget, Paterno was cleared legally and it is well documented that he technically followed the correct protocol. What happened to those children is a horrible crime. However, Jerry Sandusky is the bad guy, not Joe Paterno.
I had a brief encounter with Paterno while walking on campus one day during my senior year. I couldn't believe my eyes when I realized that the older man walking slowly towards me was actually the great Joe Paterno. Through my shock, I was able to muster a mere, "Hello Coach" as he approached me. He took five seconds out of his busy life to stop and say "Hello" back to me. Its moments like that that Paterno will be remembered for. He did so much for that university and meant so much to the people who attended it.
The Penn State family lost its patriarch today. Alumni and fans alike will always remember the good times with Joe Paterno and everything he did to make Penn State football what it is today.
The coke-bottle glasses, blue windbreaker, khaki pants, and black Nikes is a memory that will live forever with all of us.
Rest in peace JoePa - you will live on in the hearts of Penn Staters everywhere.
WE ARE...... PENN STATE