Joe Paterno: A Legacy Through the Eyes of an Outsider

Looking at the man, you would never guess he is a football genius. He’s wearing glasses the size of bricks, and looks like he should be working in a science lab, not leading a team onto the football field. With a bit of black still left on his head, you would never guess this man was 85 years old. He’s small, and he wears his pants rolled up so you can see the whites of his socks. The epitome of nerdy looking, yet you would never guess the records he holds. You would never guess that he is the most winningest coach in NCAA history. You may never guess that he was not only a coach but a shaper of men. You may not know that his legacy far exceeds that of ANY other coach in football history. He is football, and he is Joseph Vincent Paterno.

I encourage you, to continue reading this article, though it contains nothing about Carolina. Read it for the sake of football, and for the sake of Penn State. There are only so many things I can say about JoePa, coming from the eyes of a Texas Tech Red Raider. At Tech we made Mike Leach an icon, and a media hound, but his iconic status had nothing on JoePa. Many younger people saw him as a figure-head, nothing but a former shell of the coach he used to be. I say that’s erroneous, just look at his videos. He ran out onto the field with the team every game if he was able. He was yelling and screaming at players and congratulating them every time they did good. JoePa is football, and his legacy will always remain. So check back after the break, for my feelings on Joe Paterno.

JoePa wasn’t a coach in my eyes, he was the main attraction to every Penn State game. To be honest, I can’t tell you the last time I tuned into a PSU game looking for a player. JoePa was that amazing to me. Think about it, I tuned into a football game, watching the reactions of a crazy 85 year old man.

The thing about JoePa that amazed me the most: his poise. Never once did he curse on television. He took every loss as a sign of what to improve. When he had 4 losing seasons in a span of 5 years, his attitude did not change. He was Penn State, and the performance of those young men in the classroom far exceeded any thing they could do on the field.

You see, JoePa wasn’t just a coach, he was a teacher. All day I have postponed writing this article because I had no idea what to say. I didn’t know how to express how I feel about JoePa. I can tell you that I loved him, obviously I’ve said that 400 times so far. I can tell you that he was more than a coach, again I’ve said that 400 times. So, how can I really explain to you what JoePa was to college football.

It all comes down to one quote from Joseph Paterno…

You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That’s the mark of a true professional.

Joe required his players to be more than jocks. To play for the legend himself, you had to be an all around human being. There was no more letting players slide because they wore a jersey. To succeed in Paternoville, you had to succeed in class.

JoePa was the epitome of leader. I often compare him to Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World. You see, Feeney was more than what he was labeled, just as JoePa. Both men went beyond their boundaries and fought to teach their students about life, and not about subjects.

All this being said, let’s go to November 2011. I was devastated, to say the least. I turn on ESPN radio to hear Colin Cowherd blasting Joe Paterno in some child abuse case. Being from Texas, I was one of the very few that decided to stand up and fight for JoePa.

When I listened to that episode of “The Herd” on ESPN, and Cowherd talked about the scandal for 2 hours, yet during those 2 hours the name of Sandusky was never mentioned. So, Cowherd decided to talk about a sex scandal for 2 hours, but refused to mentioned the alleged rapist? That sent me blaring. I couldn’t believe that JoePa’s status would be killed by some half-witted DJ that lacked enough respect to tell the story straight.

In that moment, I knew the legacy was over. I knew that JoePa was done as head coach of PSU. Fo some reason, even when he said he would retire later, I knew the results would be disastrous. During my life, there haven’t been many “icons” in the football world. Tom Landry was long gone, and the greats at QB in the NFL were nothing but stats and records. JoePa held the connection between the past and the present.

So as I’m fighting to keep JoePa’s legacy alive in another part of the country, I’m being accused of supporting a rapist. I didn’t understand how people could, so easily, forget about the amazing work that one man had done in the world of football.

Look at the success that Penn State had under Joe Paterno. No one can discredit the man for doing what he did. He came from an Ivy League school, to becoming the greatest coach in NCAA history.

The following quotes are what people said on the passing of Coach Paterno.

George H. W. Bush:

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Paterno,” Bush said. “He was an outstanding American who was respected not only on the field of play but in life generally — and he was, without a doubt, a true icon in the world of sports. I was proud that he was a friend of mine. Barbara and I send our condolences to his devoted wife Suzanne and to his wonderful family.”

Bobby Bowden:

You can’t ignore the great years he had at Penn State and the great things he did for Penn State. That university is known for Joe Paterno and Sue. It’s just a great tragedy.

Paterno touched many people during his tenure as head coach of PSU, myself included. His legacy will be one of greatness, and will not be tainted by recent events. He was an outstanding coach, and even more of an outstanding person. He believed in people for who they were, not their talents.

I leave with my final thoughts on the man I credit with turning me onto football. He was a great person, and an even better coach. He taught us to look beyond the field, and to look at what his players could accomplish in life. I feel as though his presence as a coach during my life has helped me to become a better person. It may sound weird, seeing as how I have never met the man, but JoePa was that exemplary. He changed college football and focused on defense while the rest of the country was becoming an offensive scheme. I wish I could have attended Penn State to experience JoePa in person, but I was restricted to the TV.

JoePa is a legacy that will never be forgotten, and his pride is carried by all of those that played under him. Joe Paterno is more than a man, He…Is…Football.

“Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.” Joseph Vincent Paterno

Thank you Joe Paterno, for everything you did!

Onward State.

We Are Penn State!

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