Farewell, Joe Paterno

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Our brethren at CFT have been covering the Joe Paterno situation thoroughly and appropriately, but we can’t overlook the passing of one of the most significant figures in football history, even though Paterno never played or coached pro football.

Fewer than five months ago, Paterno reacted to the death of Raiders owner Al Davis by disclosing that Davis had tried to hire Paterno to be the team’s offensive coordinator when Davis was working as the head coach.  (Yes, Davis actually coached the Raiders from 1963 through 1965, giving up the reins at roughly the same time Paterno became head coach at Penn State.)

“When Al got the job [in Oakland], he called me to be his offensive coordinator,” Paterno said in October 2011.  “I told Al, ‘You and I would have trouble getting along, because I am smarter than you are.’”

In 1969, the Steelers offered Paterno a job that eventually went to Chuck Noll.  At the time, Paterno was making $20,000 per year; the Steelers offered him $70,000.  And Paterno passed.

“It was an awful lot of money, a fantastic offer,” Paterno had said. “I’d never dreamed of making that much money. Then I started thinking about what I wanted to do.  I had put some things out of whack.  I haven’t done the job I set out to do at Penn State.”

Paterno did the job, and in hindsight some will say he stayed too long.  But as Brent Musburger told Dan Patrick more than three years ago, Paterno feared that, if he retired, he’d soon die — like Bear Bryant did less than a month after retiring from the University of Alabama.

In the end, that’s what happened.  Officially caused by a form of lung cancer that when disclosed was described as not life threatening, Paterno’s life ended fewer than three months after he coached his final game.

The circumstances surrounding the conclusion of his tenure should never be forgotten, primarily to ensure that the events won’t be repeated at Penn State, or elsewhere.  But few figures from any sport had the kind of impact, success, and longevity that came from the coaching career of Joe Paterno.

We extend our condolences to his family, friends, assistant coaches, players, and the entire Penn State community.

47 responses to “Farewell, Joe Paterno

  1. It’s a shame how much Paterno’s legacy was tarnished. Paterno had a lot to do with the process. It’s still a sad day for college football and the extended Penn State network.

    Although he was before my time this in a way makes me think of Bear Bryant. I don’t think he lived very long after leaving Alabama (on his own terms).

    These two men lived for coaching and gave everything they had to their teams, their schools and the game. When they didn’t have football to live for, they both simply stopped living.

  2. Farewell to one of the most legendary figures in the history of American sports. Joe Paterno’s legacy will ultimately defined by his infinite good deeds and unprecedented accomplishments, not by a single well-intentioned but misguided judgement. As he rests now in the arms of angels, I hope that all of us will remember and honor in the way we should the life of this great man.

  3. Good post, Mike.

    Joe Pa was a great coach, did many good things. A good person. But, right or wrong, he’ll be forever remember for what he did not do.

    Nothing last forever. It doesn’t end pretty usually when people stay too long. I wish he would have retired 10 years ago and got the proper send-off.


  4. Joe Pa was great coach and a better man…

    He coached at Penn St. for 61 yrs…

    He was a HC at Penn St for 45 yrs…

    Overall record as HC…409–136–3

    Rest in Peace, Joe Pa…

  5. Wow it’s sad that this whole scandal thing is what people think of now when they hear Joe Paterno. Not what he’s accomplished as a coach. Even when he dies. RIP

  6. Paterno actually accepted the New England Patriots job some time in the early 70’s only to change his mind before an announcement was made.

    Probably the right move. Coaches come and go in the NFL and Paterno would have been forgotten long ago.

  7. I don’t care what people say, Joe Pa was a good man, everyone makes mistakes. He shaped many young players into men. He did so much for PSU. You lived a wonderful full filling life, now rest. God bless your soul. You will always be a legend in my heart.

  8. A sad farewell to man who helped many, influenced many lives and is irreplacable to the PSU family. I hope at this time the vicsiousness in posts commenting on the most unfortunate recent situation can be kept to a minimum. Despite what some will choose to believe, decades of contributing to the fabric of college football and Penn State are not undone by one situation in which he was not the crimminal. Sandusky committed the crimes, not Joe Paterno.

  9. Today is day to honor the memory of JoePa. Time and history will find the proper place for his legacy, but that’s for another time.

    Empathy and prayers for his friends and family. It’s a sad day for so many he has touched. All of us middle aged folks understand that the last icon of college football as it once was has passed, and his passing represents the passing of legendary throwback. Goodbye Joe, so many will miss you.

  10. Im so mixed about how I feel towards this. On one hand he was a great man. On the other he didnt act like a man when he was called upon to. RIP Joe.

  11. I despise Penn State now. Paterno tried to do something about the Sandusky situation, although he could have done more. But they fired this man when he had FOUR MORE GAMES! He had been here for 60 years, head coach for 45, and they fired him with 4 games left in his career! This man is Penn State! They would be nothing without him! I agree with Matt Millen, Paterno died of a broken heart. I hope Penn State never is good again, they dont deserve it.

    RIP to the greatest college football coach ever. I never met you, but I feel like I knew you

  12. A great coach and an even better human being. He defined the “win with honor” tradition. Few people have touched more lives. God speed, Coach.

    We Are ..

    Penn State.

  13. Great man, well loved, poor decision that I hope won’t be his final legacy. Prayers to his family and all those that loved him.

  14. Joe Pa is a true coaching legend. He made one big mistake but he shouldn’t be remembered for it, we all make mistakes. Remember this most of all only God can truly judge him. RIP Joe Pa!

  15. Let’s just remember that Joe Pa’s “Little Mistake” lead to the decades-long continuation of the abuse of children. If one of those people in the know actually stepped forward and did the right thing- some kids might have had not had to go through the hell they did. Save your sympathy for them.

  16. People will remember him for the thousands of kids he helped.

    I will remember him for the children he didnt, by protecting a scumbag on his staff who continued to molest children under his nose….legend indeed.

  17. Well, this man sure did help alot of kids lives and was a damm good football coach. Unfortunatly he failed to help the kids lives who needed it most.

  18. “Evil rejoices when good men stand idley and do nothing.”

    I’m sorry but the above quote is Joa Pa’s legacy. He was a good man who stood by and did nothing while dozens of lives were destroyed at the hands of a pedophile. Had Joe done what a good man should do and stop this, countless lives would not be in ruin today.

    Let’s keep this is perspective, football is just a game, child molestation is a real life destroying abomination.

  19. b1unt3d says:
    Jan 22, 2012 1:31 PM
    It’s not even February and I can already scratch 1 person off my “2012 Celebrity Death Pool” entry. Thanks Joe.

    Shoulda picked Etta James as well — I’m already at 42 points from that double. Gary Carter should finish off my early-season trifecta.

    (Don’t worry folks…I’ll handle the first thumbs-down on this one)

  20. Coach Paterno may not have coached in the NFL, but 350 of his players were signed to contracts. RIP Joe Pa! May God send comfort to your family and those who mourn your passing.

  21. Sorry his whole career was based on honor and accountability. But when the time to defend the honor of a child who needed HIM the most. He reported as little as possible and walked away.

    A real man of honor would have drug the jerk out of the stadium and beat him to a inch of his life.

    The man does not deserve the fan fare he is getting.

  22. Imagine how many kids he could have saved, if he manned up… he did his legal obligation, but epically. Failed on his moral obligation….

  23. jasonwhitlockalterego says:
    Jan 22, 2012 12:26 PM
    It’s really amazing how 1 false move can tarnish a 60 year career,


    Wholeheartedly agree ! We are only as good as our last day. If one of these kids would have been his grandchild, you know the proper channels would have been alerted.

    Unfortunately they were not, and Joe’s reputation took a devastating hit.

    What’s that cliche ” if only. “

  24. Turning your head while boy were getting raped is not a “mistake” or a “scandal.” It is criminal and against all human decency. There is no excuse and I hope all the people who blow that fact off, don’t have those kind of coaches for their kids one day.

  25. It is deeply frightening to see how an error in judgement can negate a lifetime of good deeds and positive mentoring of generations of students. While cancer was the actual disease that took him, his broken heart made him vulnerable. RIP coach Paterno.

  26. Joe Paterno let Jerry Sandusky get away with molestation. He had NO GOOD INTENTIONS. He may have been a great coach, I will not dispute that. But the fact that he did NOTHING to stop Jerry should NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!!!! JoePa: great coach. Terrible role model. And even worse person.

  27. to anyone who is a parent, ask yourself whether you care he was a great football coach. Media is embarrassing themselves today, nothing to be honored.

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