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Could Joe Paterno's Health Be a Concern?

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Several people have noticed in recent weeks that Joe has been jogging only a few steps out of the tunnel and casually walking to the sideline from there. It's subtle, but a noticeable difference from his usual sprint to the sideline we're all used to seeing.  Today the Altoona Mirror suggests there may be more to this story than just a stiff knee.

The most significant big-picture development concerning the Penn State football program so far this season is not the Nittany Lions' 3-0 start.

It's that Joe Paterno is no longer running out onto the field.

In fact, JoePa isn't running anywhere: He's even having trouble walking.

Paterno was not present at the team's practice Monday, and he was in a golf cart Tuesday.

He mentioned to reporters prior to Tuesday's press conference that his right leg was sore. Thirty minutes later, he gingerly left the stage and took awhile to get into his car.

Reading the rest of the article paints a pretty disturbing picture. Joe isn't able to take his daily walks. He was in so much pain during the Oregon State game he was repeatedly seen bent over with his hands on his knees. The team doctors stood close to him for much of the game, so they are obviously concerned with whatever is going on.

When asked about the knees Joe said he was just a little bit sore from standing on the Carrier Dome turf all day. But after the Tuesday press conference he was asked again by a reporter. Joe probably thought he was off the record when he admitted he was horsing around during practice kicking the ball and doing some "stupid things".  Clearly he has aggravated something.

I'm sure Joe is going to do everything he can to hide the pain and prevent this from being a distraction from the team. But if things get much worse the team doctors will have no choice but to keep him off the sidelines for his own health and safety. Don't be surprised if Joe starts working the games from the press box. And don't be surprised if 2008 is his final year.