Posts tagged ‘ESPN’

The Story Behind the ‘We Are’ Statue

ESPN released a video today about the phrase “We Are Penn State.” More specifically, the video is about its origins and how it inspired the We Are statue on campus that was given as the class of 2013’s gift.

It’s narrated by Keegan-Michael Key ’96g and includes interviews with Wally Triplett ’49, Morgan Delaware ’13, and Jonathan Cramer ’94, among others. Delaware was the 2013 class gift committee chair, while Cramer was the statue’s sculptor.

The video starts by recalling the events of November 2011, and their impact on Penn State pride. Cramer then talks about his desire to enter a competition to build the statue. In the course of his research for the project, Cramer learned about the legend behind “We Are Penn State,” which we wrote about in 2009 (the author of our story, Michael Weinreb ’94, was also interviewed by ESPN). Cramer says he felt inspired and got to work on a statue that could “stand the test of time.”

Some argue that the story of Wally Triplett and the 1947 Penn State football team has no direct ties to the famous rallying cry—and that may well be true. But the ESPN video is still a great tribute to that team, and it provides the story behind the statue.

The video ends with a link to a website soliciting donations for help with Triplett’s health care. To watch the video, click on the image in the tweet at the top of this post.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor


May 24, 2016 at 2:47 pm 3 comments

Kirk Goldsberry’s Going Pro

For years, Kirk Goldsberry ’99 has been one of the most widely respected analytical minds in all of basketball. His work was prominently featured on ESPN websites, most notably the now-defunct Grantland (you might also remember that we featured him in our May/June 2015 issue). Goldsberry became famous for making maps that charted how NBA players shot from various areas of the floor. Here’s an example:

When he wasn’t writing about basketball, Goldsberry was a visiting scholar at Harvard; his projects included geographic education, space-time graphics, and mapping food environments and healthcare environments.

Now, Goldsberry has decided to commit full-time to hoops. He’s joining the San Antonio Spurs, long revered for being one of the more forward-thinking teams in the NBA when it comes to advanced statistical analysis. Goldsberry hasn’t said exactly what he’ll be doing for the five-time champions, but don’t be surprised if his expertise helps keep them near the top of the league.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

March 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

The Paterno Family Responds


Sue Paterno (right) on the Katie Couric show on Monday, Feb. 11.

Those of us who work on The Penn Stater got together first thing this morning to talk about the latest development in the Sandusky scandal—the release of the Paterno family-commissioned rebuttal to the Freeh Report—and to figure out how to accommodate it in the next issue.

As I’m sure you know, ESPN devoted its Outside the Lines program yesterday to a new report in which four key figures, including former U.S. attorney general Dick Thornburgh and former FBI profiler Jim Clemente, blast the findings of the Freeh Report. (The other two experts are a Johns Hopkins expert on sexual disorders, Fred Berlin, and the Paterno family attorney, Wick Sollers.) The ESPN segment coincided with the launch of the website, where the newly released analysis can be found, and a segment on ABC-TV this afternoon in which Katie Couric interviews Sue Paterno ’62, three of the Paterno children, and two former Penn State football players, among others.

The Paterno family, in other words, is fighting back—fighting to get its side of the story heard and to refute the Freeh report’s claim that Joe Paterno helped cover up Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children.

Before this latest news hit, we had thought we were pretty much finished with the March/April issue. We were putting the final touches on two of the features and my column, while all of the other pages had already been put to bed. But this morning we agreed pretty quickly that we’ll need to rework the “Fallout” section, which is the department in each issue where we put ongoing news about the scandal. We’re adding a page to that section, and instead of leading off with Gov. Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA, we’ll push that to a later page and instead lead with the news of the Paterno family’s initiative.

Our story will most likely be just a recap of what’s happened in the past 36 hours or so, and it may or may not tell readers anything they don’t already know. But we’re unanimous in our feeling that it has to be there. From a credibility standpoint, if nothing else, we can’t imagine readers flipping through the March/April issue in a couple of weeks and not seeing a word about this.

Bimonthly print magazines generally aren’t the most nimble of media, and this isn’t the first time that developments in the scandal have forced us to scramble. But, to the staff’s credit, they just roll with it.

In the meantime, you can download the new Paterno analysis at If you read nothing else, you might at least check out the section written by Clemente, the FBI guy; he talks quite a bit about how pedophiles operate and offers pragmatic advice for parents and others.

Also at, you’ll find Sue Paterno’s message to Penn State football lettermen, in which she answers the question of what the family hopes to accomplish by its newest efforts:

Is it the return of the statue? The restoration of Joe’s wins? His name on the football stadium? … Joe Paterno’s legacy wasn’t a statue, a winning record or public adulation. … His legacy is his family and you his players. How you live your life speaks louder than any report. The great fathers, husbands and citizens you have become fulfill the dreams Joe had. All that we want — and what I believe we owe the victims, Joe Paterno and everyone who cares about Penn State — is the full record of what happened.

It remains to be seen how much momentum the Paterno family’s efforts might gather. Early media reaction has been mixed at best; Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports and Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN are among those who have been critical, and the Harrisburg Patriot‘s David Jones argues that it’s not about a cover-up anyway—it’s simply about Paterno’s failure to do enough to stop Sandusky.

On the other hand, a Philadelphia media outlet reported today that one Penn State trustee, Alvin Clemens ’59, thinks the trustees should now take a fresh look at the Freeh Report. And Sollers, the Paterno family attorney, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of taking legal action of some sort. What happens from here is anyone’s guess.

Tina Hay, editor

February 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm 24 comments

Moving Forward, in Unity and Defiance

It started quietly, with Bill O’Brien releasing a short statement Monday morning. He followed that Tuesday with a teleconference with local media in which he laid out his approach to dealing with the NCAA-imposed obstacles to on-field success: He will emphasize all that Penn State still has to offer—home games in front of 100,000-plus fans, facilities on par with any in the nation, a coaching staff that understands how to prepare prospects for a chance at the NFL. Already, he is pitching players and recruits—any of whom can leave for another program if they choose—on rising to the challenge. And, yes, he says he’s “committed for the long term.”

O’Brien’s media tour continued Wednesday with appearances on ESPN (this 15-minute interview is well worth watching), all leading up to his trip to Chicago for this week’s Big Ten media days. As he’s done almost without fail in his first seven months on the job, O’Brien continues to say all the right things. On Wednesday morning, he got some backing from his players, as a group of a few dozen, led by seniors and likely captains Michael Zordich and Michael Mauti, met the media to publicly state their unity and commitment to the program.

There’s no telling how many current and future Lions will be able to maintain such a fierce commitment over the next four years. But after another rough stretch of days in an ongoing saga, this is a promising sign.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

July 25, 2012 at 11:23 am 9 comments

An Afternoon with Joe Paterno and Mike Krzyzewski

Steve Manuel captured this candid image between segments of ESPN's taping on Monday.

If you’re a veteran Joe Paterno watcher and/or a Penn State fan, when you tune into the ESPN special Difference Makers: Life Lessons with Paterno and Krzyzewski, you’re going to recognize a lot of Paterno’s material.

Reading the Aeneid in high school. A couple of Rip Engle references. A salute to his wife, Sue Pohland ’62, whom he jokingly called “bossy,” before praising her involvement with Special Olympics and their church (with a shoutout to the student Catholic center, under construction, that will bear her name).

And the explanation for why he turned down a lucrative offer to coach the NFL’s New England Patriots: “I stayed where I thought I’d be happy. … But I didn’t take the vow of poverty.”

Paterno grinned, slyly, and the 900 or so people who attended the taping Monday afternoon in Eisenhower Auditorium laughed and cheered. Brad Young ’96 wrote in our 2009 coverage of an Evening with Joe event in New York that Paterno has “probably worked as many cocktail hours as he has sidelines,” and that Paterno was much in evidence, joking, laughing, telling stories, and generally appearing to be having a fine old time.

As was Duke’s legendary basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski. The two coaches—who have combined for 1,301 victories and six national championships—had never met before, but by the time they arrived on stage, they appeared as comfortable with each other as a pair of touring vaudeville comedians.

That was apparent from the first topic from host Rece Davis: characteristics of a great teacher. Paterno waxed eloquent about the need for convictions and empathy, and explained that various players needed to be treated differently: “some need a kick in the butt, some need stroking, some need a kiss …”

Krzyzewski broke in: “I watch Coach all the time, and I’ve never seen kissing.”

The coaches bantered back and forth a bit, although it was hard to hear everything over the laughter. Which was loud.

In the next segment, a discussion about the importance of family, Krzyzewski said that his three daughters were like sisters to his players, and with a perfectly timed pause, added, “They better be only sisters.” Amid laughter, he said that wasn’t a problem because he had told his daughters to go out only with “good-looking guys I trust,” which left out his players.

And left Paterno to respond: “I wonder what his wife’s father told her.”

There were serious moments, too, especially as the coaches talked about how they develop leaders and what they love so much about college campuses. But I think most people left the taping having enjoyed the camaraderie between the coaches.

Other hilarious moments:

Paterno, after Krzyzewski talked about dancing when the Blue Devils won national titles: “I like to dance. I can do the lindy hop.” (He made a few vaguely dance-like movements in his chair. You need to see it to appreciate it, so be sure to tune in to ESPN on Thursday, June 30. The first hour of the program will air on ESPN, and the final 30 minutes on ESPNU.)

Krzyzewski, when Paterno paused before answering a student question about what it was like to be an icon at Penn State: “Actually, I think your statue should be bigger.”

Paterno: “Tell me, What is an icon? If you mean it’s some good-looking, handsome … I like it!”

As did the live audience. And I bet the TV audience will, as well.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

June 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm Leave a comment

ESPN Brings You Penn State “Student Bodies” In 3-D

Here’s something unexpected—and a little weird—but very cool: As a tie-in with its current “Body Issue,” ESPN The Magazine chose one college from which to get a broad survey of athletes’ bodies. That school? Penn State. But these aren’t just photos of student-athletes—they’re 3-D images done through some sort of high-tech (and highly realistic) scanner. The results, which you can scroll through here, are strange, enlightening, and compelling.

Why’d they choose Penn State? According to the blurb that opens the feature, the magazine was attracted by “one of the nation’s largest (325-plus scholarship athletes) and smartest (82% graduation rate) athletics programs.”

On a cool personal side note: Five of the 29 athletes featured — including Lauren Purvis and Jack Crawford, pictured above — have also appeared as our magazine’s “Lead Athlete” profile over the past couple of years. Kind of proud of that, even if our images were only 2-D.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

October 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

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