Coach Joe Paterno famously said, “The name on the front of the jersey is what really matters, not the name on the back.” Playing for the team over personal gain is something Coach Joe “Joe Pa” Paterno always pushed into his players’ minds. Sadly, he passed away on January 22, 2012, due to complications from lung cancer. The loss of the legendary 2-time national championship coach was felt across the country. Other accomplishments include: 409 wins (the only FBS coach with over 400 wins), 37 bowl appearances, and 24 bowl wins during his unprecedented 46 year tenure. Sorrowfully, his successes were marred by the alleged actions surrounding his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.
Everyone in the sports world knows of the scandal at Penn State, but Joe Pa was not going to be charged with any crime. He was pressured into resigning in the midst of this last season over the Sandusky scandal. We must not let the allegations against his former assistant get in the way of remembering the accomplishments of the former Big Ten coach. Joe Pa loved Penn State so much he turned down multiple offers to be a head coach in the National Football League. One of the teams he was known to shoot down was the New England Patriots. He is even remembered by former President George H. W. Bush, who called Paterno, “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.”
As a fan of both college and professional football, it means a lot for a coach to develop such a legacy. Given that Joe Pa was able to do it at the university level means young players will have a high standard to work towards. This creates something they can carry with them to the pros and beyond the world of sports. Fans everywhere can and should respect everything that Joe Pa did for the game of the football. He made quite a run and touched countless hearts in his lifetime. Even with the 46 years of long days, hard losses, big wins and tough practices, there is not a doubt in my mind he loved every second of it.