RIP Joe Paterno

joe paterno statue morners

Today is a very sad day in Pennsylvania.

Black Shoe Diaries summed up my thoughts and feelings today better than I ever could: 

Joe Paterno would always be there for us too, as an unlikely combination of Fred Rogers and fellow Brooklynite Vince Lombardi. His hair would always be dark and his eyeglasses comically thick. He would run out the tunnel for roughly a dozen Saturdays each autumn, wearing a tie, black shoes, and rolled up khaki pants. Paterno would inevitably show up for spring practices, still looking 20 years younger than his actual age and happily shooting down frivolous media questions like clay pigeons. This had to happen because it had always happened. Just like Fred Rogers, Paterno’s presence was reassuring even when times were bad, just like Mr. Rogers’ trademark song and cardigan. It was all we had ever known, and a world without him seemed incomprehensible.

Paterno’s wisdom, charity, and success — these are the things that will be remembered. The scandal associated with Jerry Sandusky will remain a murky, dark chapter in an expansive 61-year career and life spent doing so much good for so many people in Happy Valley and beyond. However, this is a day to celebrate, and perhaps even be jealous of a life exquisitely lived on its own terms. A young man from Brooklyn made a choice in 1950 to be a poorly paid assistant coach at a tiny outpost in central Pennsylvania. The course of a university and the lives of millions became undeniably richer for his decision, and regardless of the last few months, Joe Paterno left our little corner of the world an infinitely better place than he found it.

Excellent photo by Chloe Elmer