My Dad will always be my hero. A man that has done everything in his power to make my life and my sister’s life better and I will never love anyone more than I love my Dad. However, there is a man that is a close second. I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t love my uncle, or my grandfathers, but I love this man I have never met. This man I will never meet, but I cry when I see videos now about his life and feel a swell of pride in my chest when he talked about my alma mater and doing things in this world the right way. Joseph Vincent Paterno has said countless times that he continued his work because he believed he still had a positive impact on young people and he is inspired by those words of his father, Angelo. I only hope that JoePa had some inkling as to how many young people he truly did inspire.
The legend is well known, and well deserving. But through all of the articles online and tribute videos, I still crave a collection that tells the world about the real Joe Paterno. They don’t describe the Joe away from the game of football. No video has ever shown the world outside of the PSU family the man that makes us smile with an off color comment during a press conference, or a snide remark about my fellow Irishmen that only makes me love him more. There is no more beautiful human being on this earth than JoePa, just look around. Look to the millions of dollars he has passed up on in the NFL, and the millions he has raised and donated for Penn State. Listen to the impact of Penn Staters. There is the family he has raised with Sue, but there is also the family of millions that have added him as an adopted father/grandfather since the mid 1960’s. There are players that whether they are playing in the NFL or are selling insurance or are on Wall Street are always reciting the positive impact that this man has had on them for years after they left the gridiron. Even after the recent events of 2011, there are millions that will stand up and praise Joe Paterno for everything he has done, for us as PEOPLE, not just fans of a football team.
The phrase has been used thousands of times; ‘doing it the right way.’ Well, not too often do you get to watch the man work that the phrase was coined after. Joe Paterno invented the right way. His Grand Experiment showed the world that a college student athlete was a real possibility at the highest level of competition. And sure, we all know he never ran up the score and talked about all teams with respect whether they were Temple or Texas, but the things that he doesn’t do might stand out more. Joe Paterno does not have curse filled outbursts, in fact Paterno doesn’t even curse 99% of the time. There are hundreds of examples of Joe working with kids on their work in the classroom or on campus, his emphasis being just as important or even more important than that of the young man's success on the field. The respect Joe has for the game is great, but it is his respect for people and his emphasis on raising young men that makes him such a beloved coach
When the years go by, and people speak of Joe, he will probably be remembered for his records, the numbers game that is so staggering when discussing his career. Some will try to bring up a scandal that has unfairly focused on this great man. I tremble at the idea that my children and future Penn Staters will be left with just the numbers or this awful scandal, because Joseph Vincent Paterno was so much more. It is up to us to keep the legend of Joe Paterno alive. It is up to us to spread the words he has preached for years, the ideals that he has instilled in all of us. Please, Penn State, don’t let the media or the ‘experts’ of college football tell us how to remember this man. Join me in spreading the beliefs and amazing deeds of this man for years to come. Certainly, college football has lost an icon. However, so has the field of education, so has all of Pennsylvania, so has the entire world. We will not see another man like Joe Paterno. Thank you, Coach, We Are…eternally grateful. You Are… our hero.