Joe Paterno Gone At 85
For more than forty years, Joe Paterno was the beloved face of Penn State University. With his trademark glasses and devotion to graduating his players, he won two national championships, a legion of alumni and Pennsylvania football fans and assumedly, the right to go out on his own terms. Even as the losses piled up in the early 2000s, the majority of boosters and university officials continued to back the old man, feeling heíd earned it. That good faith was at first rewarded with several more brilliant seasons, but in the end, Paternoís tenure extended just long enough to be tarnished by the most disgusting, pathetic and vicious scandal in the history of college athletics.
Joe Paterno died this morning at the age of eighty-five. Surrounded by his family, he went from complications due to lung cancer, a diagnosis only revealed after he was fired by his beloved university a few months ago. His death will do nothing to stem the scandal or clear his name, but that doesnít make his passing any less sad. Sad because he was a cherished coach, sad because his death will bring no closure to the victims and sad because his sins of omission and indifference had real consequences.
Iím not sure how the world will remember Joe Paterno in fifty years. Thereís no way to know whether heíll be a brilliant football tactician who didnít do enough to stop a child rapist or a man who didnít do enough to stop a child rapist who happened to be a brilliant football tactician. In the end, itís probably most important we remember both. A lifetime of service and dedication canít fully cloud a sin so unspeakable, but the entirety of our achievements and failures do matter.
Pop Blendís thoughts go out to the entire Paterno family, as well as the Penn State community and the victims of Jerry Sandusky.