So, now that Joe has been laid to rest and honored by those who loved him, the question begs, what do we do now? Sure, life goes on but what are the lessons to take from such an amazing man and such an impactful life?
I believe that the answer to the above is found as much in the last three or so months of Joe's life as in the previous 84-plus. As time has gone on, I have found myself raging at the BoT, the media and others for scapegoating Paterno. I have found myself so badly wanting justice for a kind, noble and honorable man. I wanted someone, anyone, to stand up and fight for this man and if that had to be me, then so be it. Since his firing, I have been determined to out argue and shout down those who sought to sully his name and what he spent a lifetime building. I had attempted to quell my sadness with bitterness and contempt.
Yet, as I sit here and reflect on the events of the past week and, especially, what I saw today and what I've read of his last few days, I am embarrassed for myself. Joe never once wanted things to be about him. He always wanted the focus to be on the University and the Penn State family. Its why he turned down numerous offers from NFL and other NCAA teams, who offered way more money. Its why he would only do the Burger King commercial if they would donate his take to the University. Its why his name adorns a library and not athletic facilities. It is why, despite the despicable actions of the media and BoT, he never expressed bitterness and resentment toward anyone. To his last breath, his focus was on the victims, the university and his family. Joe was not perfect and was not a Saint, but he is one of the greatest men that this nation has ever produced and I will honor him as such. Joe cared so much about the well being of others and that is evidenced by the numerous testimonies of those who played for, coached with, lived near, ran into or just admired him from afar. Quite simply, I am a better man because I got to watch, admire and learn from the example of Joseph Vincent Paterno for the past 30 years.
So, again the question is, what now? Now, we move on. Now, a new generation of Penn State football begins, under the direction of another Brown man, who by all accounts is a good, decent man. Coach O'Brien said it best when he said that he cannot be another Joe Paterno. But, I believe, based on his actions so far, that being Coach O'Brien is a pretty good thing to be too. I wish Coach O'Brien the very best and I will be rooting for the Patriots next week (as much as it pains me) because BOB is now family.
As for me, I no longer hold any bitterness or resentment toward the media or BoT. If Joe didn't hold any, then I have no right to either. Don't get me wrong, this episode has exposed the need for changes to be made in how these matters are reported by the media, handled by the BoT and, more importantly, the authorities charged with public safety, not just in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania but all across America. It has also shown a light on the evil of child abuse and, hopefully, has inspired a new generation of Americans to work toward its eradication. Most of all, for me, I will strive, for the rest of my life, to try and be a positive influence on everyone I come into contact with, no matter their rank or station in life. I will do so because that is what Joe did and he succeeded honorably in doing so. If I can have the 1/100th of the positive impact on others that Joe did, I will consider my life a great success. And with that, in as strong a voice and sense of conviction as I can muster, I say WE ARE...
Thank You Coach