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Joe Paterno Laid To Rest

January 27, 2012 - Al Stephenson
Oh, if were only that simple. Penn State's long time football coach has been buried, but his name will surface for months to come, albeit not always in a favorable light. The winningest Division 1 football coach of all time may very well be remembered for the scandalous ending to his famed career rather than for all the wins and contributions he made to his beloved university. When it comes to JoPa's legacy, we insist on giving our thoughts long before we have any reason to. It's wrong, but it's the American way.

Now I'm going to do the same.

Joe Paterno was a study in contradiction. For every supporter there is an equal number of detractors. The man spent his entire career at Penn State though he did listen in the 1970's when the New England Patriots came calling. He ultimately decided he could not leave Penn State. For many, one of his greatest attributes was his loyalty to Penn State. For others, he stayed way too long.

He was known for butting heads with univesity officials when it came time to discipline football players for off field concerns. Again, for some this was a strong point. He was willing to take care of his own problems. For others it showed he had become too powerful. It was my way or the highway. His football team came before the university. Depends on who you talk to.

By now everyone knows about the Jerry Sandusky scandal and how it led to Paterno's firing. No need to rehash it, though you have those who supported the firing and those who were shocked by it. So how do I feel about the whole thing?

I admired Joe Paterno for many reasons. I applaud his loyalty to Penn State. Instead of chasing big money like many coaches, he chose to stay loyal to the school that gave him his start. Sure he made a lot of money, but he poured a lot of it back into the university. That kind of loyalty is rare.

As much as I was impressed with his wins, I was more impressed with the way he did it. No frills (names did not appear on Penn State jerseys), no NCAA penalties, players graduated. How do you not admire this man?

As for the child sex abuse charges and Paterno's handling of the information. There is a legal as well as moral aspect to the situation. He did inform his bosses of the information. He did not follow up on that and for those who say "I would have done" - here's my take. Until you are actually in the situation, I'm not sure you can make that statement - whatever it might be.

At this point I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to Joe Paterno. The view from my seat suggests that Joe Paterno should be remembered as a great football coach, first and foremost.

We will likely never know what actually took place. If Paterno tried to cover up the allegations to support his friend (that kind of loyalty should not be applauded), or to protect his football program then I reserve the right to change my mind.


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