Some Poignant Reactions to Joe Paterno’s Death
It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but I’ve been collecting a handful of the reactions I’ve seen about the loss of Penn State’s legendary football coach Joe Paterno.
One news article I highly recommend is this one by Dave Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News. In it, Jones tells a wonderful story from 2004 of the late sports reporter Jerry Kellar doing his spot-on Joe Paterno imitation—to Paterno’s face—and Paterno playing along.
Next thing you knew, it was an interview. Except Joe was asking the stupid questions and Jerry was flicking them away dismissively with a wave and a nasal backhand insult. The more persistent questions Joe asked, the funnier Jerry’s Paterno answers became.
Within minutes, the old coach was crying he was laughing so hard. If I had a tape of it, it would get 20 million Youtube hits.
Striking an even more poignant note is this piece by Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Phil Sheridan, called “Requiem for the Soul of Penn State.”
Many of Joe’s coaching colleagues across the country have issued tributes to the man; you can read what Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban had to say in this article at ESPN.com.
Finally, there is this praise from former Penn State defensive coordinator and former interim head coach Tom Bradley ’78, ’86g:
Words seem to pale in a moment such as this. The terms “icon” and “legend” have been often used to describe Joe Paterno. Certainly, he was both within the world of college athletics. But to those of us who played for him, to those of us who coached with him and to those of us who had the privilege to call him a friend, Joe Paterno was much more.
To me, he was my mentor for 37 years and the lessons that I learned from him as a player, coach and friend will live on with me forever. It was Coach Paterno who saw what I could be and helped me to realize that potential. He was a tremendous teacher not because he knew all of the answers but because he challenged us to find the answers for ourselves. He made us better men than we believed we could be — both on and off the field. And when we lost our way or became unsure of ourselves, it was Coach Paterno who was there to encourage us, guide us and remind us that we must always strive to succeed with honor.
Coach Paterno never believed that his role as “Coach” ended after practice, or when the fourth quarter wound down or when a student-athlete graduated. He was a coach for life. I am deeply grateful to have had Coach Paterno in my life. He was the epitome of class and his spirit will live on in all of us who had the great honor of knowing him and running out of the tunnel with him on so many autumn Saturdays.
My thoughts and prayers are with Coach Paterno’s devoted wife, Sue, his son Jay, with whom I coached so many years, and with the entire Paterno family during this sad and difficult time.
If you’ve seen other tributes you’d recommend, please let us know in the comment section after this post.
Tina Hay, editor
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