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“Mark’s Remarks” Joe Pa, Thank You from Me

I grew up in Philadelphia, my parents raised me right, and they taught me many things that I will always remember. I remember that when it came time to decide on colleges there was only one I really wanted to go to, and that was Penn State University. I wasn’t able to go straight to State College, so I went to a college that was 26 miles away. My college on the weekend was known as Suitcase U because everybody was going to State College to party and quite possibly get a lesson from Joe.

My junior year I transferred to Penn State and one of the first things I did was go see Joe Paterno. I was a quarterback in high school, but I wasn’t trying to walk on, I just wanted to meet the man and see if there was something I could do to just be a part of the team. I was 6’1″ but a very meager 145 pounds, not the size to play college football. At the time, Joe was 60 years of age, black hair and full of the same energy he had all his life. I remember we talked about lots of things; education, my family, and the university. The one thing we didn’t talk about was football. He was more interested in knowing about me as a person than my football knowledge or anything like that. In the 30 minutes I spent with him that first day, I not only felt like a welcomed student, I felt like a member of the Paterno family.

I was lucky enough to spend 2 years at Penn State and in those two years on the sidelines, in the locker room, and as a student in his class, I learned so much from this man who I grew to see as close to me as my own dad. In his eyes I was no different than any other student or any other athlete that had come in contact with him. Joe treated everyone with class and respect, and he was a father figure to everyone. Joe wanted to win, but he cared more about teaching his players and his students how to be better adults. He taught skills that would be needed on and off the football field. No one ever questioned it and no one would ever push him away. People were drawn to Mr. Paterno for his caring nature. He wasn’t a big guy, he wouldn’t stand out in a crowd, but when he talked everybody listened. He was a man with a huge heart in which he gave back to Penn State University with his time and money. He never demanded a huge salary, and what money he did get he usually gave back to the university in one way or another. The library is named after him.

I remember when several years ago many sports stations came out talking about how the game had passed him by, that he was no longer in touch with his players, and that he was too old. These same people wanted him to step down. A couple of years later he had Penn State rolling again, proving all of the critics wrong. Joe Paterno, who was so loved by those who knew him or who ever came in contact with him, will be missed. There has been an outpouring of love all this week in and around State College, as Joe Pa was a father figure to many, including me.



  1. Phantise

    January 29, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Lovely piece. I am so sick of hearing people judging this man, his entire life, and his legacy on something that someone else did. He didn’t see it with his own eyes, and he took the steps that he was required to take after it was reported to him. It’s not as if he walked in on the molestation and looked away. Could he have done more? Maybe. Did he do what was required of him? Yes. Do people really have nothing better to do with their lives than judge others? I remember when I found out about his passing. It was on Facebook. I logged on, and several of my friends had commented on his death. Most were Paterno fans/supporters. A select few comments were very disrespectful and irreverent; mostly from people who knew nothing more about him than the scandal. The funny thing is that the same people who were making these irreverent comments are people who put their life drama all over their Facebook pages. Half of their names should read, “walking train-wreck,” and they are people that I know are far from perfect. It’s nice to read something that looks at Joe Paterno, the person, and not Joe Paterno’s involvement, or lack thereof, in someone else’s scandal.

  2. myothers33

    January 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Thank You for your sweet words…….. I was also upset and disappointed of the media and others trying to pin such a terrible thing to cover his entire legacy. He has been the perfect role model and father figure for everybody for 6 decades. I am sure Joe could never even imagined a world in which what happened in the locker room could have even taken place. He trusted the people around him to do things the Penn State way… with honor and integrity. Joe made Penn State what it was before the scandal. The treatment he got after the situation came out was intolerable. He didnt deserve the fate he was given. He should have been allowed to coach his team to the end of the season and to the bowl game. He went to those he trusted after it was told to him. I agree maybe he should have checked up on it, but consider this, the people he went to, he knew a very very long time. He had faith and trust in these people to do the right thing, investigate and do what needed to be done if the allegations came out to be true. However, the people he told did nothing, they are the ones at fault, not Joe. I truly believe that the whole scandal led to a very early exit and death to a man who was ready to coach the next ten years.

  3. Phantise

    January 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Agreed. They pinned him as the fall guy since they wanted him out of there anyway, and I feel as if he died of a broken heart. Had they not treated him the way they did when the scandal came out, it wouldn’t have been as easy for the media hounds to attack. Coaching obviously kept him going, and this scandal tore him apart. I hope these people realize that he was a human being, and that they indirectly ended his life through their selfishness.

    • myothers33

      January 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      I completely agree 100 percent…. a broken heart…. They took away the one thing that gave him a reason to get up and stay active ….his players and fans. I can only imagine after seeing the pictures of him walking the football field alone after the scandal what he was thinking. He had such a huge heart. I am sure he blamed himself for every single child that was abused, although he didnt do it. I am sure after losing his job, the cancer and the scandal their wasnt too much for him to fight for… Sadly, I think he just gave up.

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