On Thursday, January 27th, I was lucky enough to attend the memorial service for Joe Paterno with my wife Becky.
Being an alum, Penn State has always been a big part of my life. I attended games when I was a student there and now I have had season tickets for the last 6 years. Before the scandal,I always said that no matter what, I would be at Paterno's public service. Now more than ever, I felt it was important to show my support to my "Penn State Family"
It was a surreal scene. I'm used to sitting in the BJC at "TailGreat" before home football games. The band is always playing and everyone is upbeat and happy. This was a totally different atmosphere. I saw people crying even before the service started.
The service was exaclty what a memorial service is meant to be- a celebration of the person's life. Several videos showing Paterno through the years were mixed in between those who spoke. Players from six different decades spoke at the service. That to me, was amazing. Everyone who spoke had the same message-Joe Paterno was so much more than a football coach. He was a very charitable human being who cared for others as if they were family.
The most poignant part of the service for me was when Jay Paterno spoke about his dad and gave us some insight into what it was like to be a part of his life. I felt that Jay was very well-spoken and held it together very well. Hearing him speak about his dad's final moments in the hospital and telling him, "Dad, we won, you can go home now" really brought me to tears.
This was a historical event that I will never forget. It was so great to be around so many Penn Staters who were all there to celebrate the great work that Joe Paterno has done. Penn State would not be half of what it is today without him.
Now, I know that some people will say that Joe Paterno did not deserve a memorial service that praised him. There are plenty of people who feel he was an awful human being for helping to cover up the horrible child sex abuse scandal.
The only thing I would say to those people is this- Joe Paterno reported what he was told and those above him dropped the ball.
Paterno cared about Penn State and treated everyone that he coached as if they were family. No coach has ever done as much for their university as Paterno has done. The memorial service was exactly what I hoped it would be. A great celebration of a wonderful humanitarian.