Just in case you missed it, which is impossible, long-time legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, 85, died after a 2-month battle with Lung Cancer early Sunday morning.
ESPN: Penn State Nittany Lions — Terse Jerry Sandusky calls Joe Paterno’s death ‘sad day’
ESPN: Joe Paterno, ex-Penn State Nittany Lions coach, dies at 85 after 2-month cancer fight
B Nation (Bomani Jones): Joe Paterno’s Death Leaves LaVar Arrington And Others With Lots Left To Say
Smart Football: Joe Paterno’s Penn State Defense
There are other links after the jump.
It is an inescapable complication of human nature that the same things that give you your most positive traits, also give you your worst. The same aspects of Joe Paterno’s personality that made him such a beloved figure in State College, PA, and an admired sports figure around the world — the same things that made him a leader of men, a wonderful coach, and someone who made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of young men and families — also let him down. And in the end, both the positive and the negative will be part of a legacy that got infinitely more complicated, infinitely more gray, in the last three months.
Paterno was admired, in part, because he insisted on seeing the best in people. He was celebrated for walking from his house to work, with no bodyguards. He was loved for figuring out how to maximize a player’s positive traits, both physical and personal. He believed in himself and his staff, and it gave him incredible perseverance through difficult times for his program. […]
Life and legacy are complicated, and Paterno’s is now proof of that. And unfortunately for all involved, another inescapable facet of life is that you do not control when it ends. Paterno expressed the desire to fight, to tell his story, and to assist those who were hurt however possible. And I have no doubt that he meant that. But now the story will unfold without him.
This will be forever the battle over Joe Paterno’s legacy. A life of soaring impact, of bedrock values, of generations and generations as a symbol of how to live life to its fullest.
The Sandusky case cracked that for some. Ended it. Not for all, though.
Paterno reached too many, taught too many, inspired too many. And for years and seasons, for decades and generations to come, those that drew from his wisdom will pass it on and on. That will be his most lasting legacy.
No, his worst day can’t be forgotten. Neither can all the beautiful ones that surrounded it.
If you’re a Penn State fan, you’re mourning the most important figure ever to grace the State College campus, a man who dedicated his entire adult life to bettering the school and its students and engendered decades of national exposure and admiration along the way. Many of you felt betrayed after learning of Paterno’s role in the Sandusky scandal, but that didn’t erase your attachment to and appreciation of the man. If you’re one of the fans who believed Penn State mistreated Paterno at the end, you’re undoubtedly even angrier at the thought that his ouster may have expedited his passing in any way.
If you’re a college football fan older than 25 who cares about the history of the sport, this is a sad day for you too, whether or not you have an affinity for Penn State. You may still be angry about how Paterno handled the Sandusky allegations, but you still hold a certain level of respect for the sport’s all-time winningest coach and the man who once espoused of The Grand Experiment. You will mark his passing accordingly.
But for many, your opinion of Paterno was irreparably altered the day the grand jury report came out. You feel that Paterno’s failure to report Sandusky to the police, thus enabling an alleged pedophile to abuse more children in the years that followed, was so unconscionable that it overrides all the good things Paterno did before and after, on or off the field. Or that it was all a myth to begin with. How will you mark his passing?
He had held himself to an exceedingly high standard with what he called his Grand Experiment: fielding outstanding teams with disciplined players whose graduation rate far exceeded that at most football powers. His football program had never been tainted by a recruiting scandal. His statue stood outside Beaver Stadium alongside the legend “Educator, Coach, Humanitarian.”
Former players who succeeded in professional life far beyond the football field had told of their debt to him.
“Look how many go to medical school or law school,” said Bill Lenkaitis, a dentist in Foxborough, Mass., who played for Paterno in the 1960s, then became a longtime center for the New England Patriots. “Look how many become heads of corporations.”