How should Joe Paterno’s legacy be viewed?


A detailed image of the halo that was painted over the likeness of Joe Paterno on a mural in downtown State College, Pennsylvania, Monday, January 23, 2012. (David Maialetti/ Philadelphia Daily News/MCT)

John Dvozenja

Legendary Joe Paterno is more than a winner

When someone thinks of Penn State University, what does he/she think of? For most, the image of the late head coach of 46 years, Joe Paterno, flashes through one’s mind. “JoePa” holds the record for most victories and bowl wins for a NCAA Division I football school, with 409 wins and 24 bowl wins.

He has produced more than 360 NFL players in his coaching career. He produced three NFL Hall of Fame players: Franco Harris, Jack Ham and Mike Munchak. Penn State is also known as “Linebacker University” because of all the remarkable linebackers Paterno has produced.

Though his accomplishments are truly tremendous — something many coaches cannot replicate — it is still not what I first think of first when JoePa comes to mind. I first think of his generosity and his undeniable commitment to the school and, more importantly, towards others. Paterno was an “ethics man;” he put family and education first, before all other things. He was a man who did things right. In today’s society, head coaches seem to be focused on winning only. It is truly rare to hear a coach speaking on family or education, rather than winning a football game.

Joe Paterno made it clear, for example, that his charity is for education before all things. He has donated almost $5 million to the school’s libraries. Things like donations for education or spiritual faith tend to slip by the media these days. People are crazed on things such as a winning program or scandalous activities.

Joe Paterno’s legacy will forever be remembered for what he has done for the university, the football program and, most importantly, for others. He will be remembered for what he did, not for what he did not do. Deservingly so, he is one of the most inspirational coaches in all of sports. Paterno was more than a winner. He was an unselfish, unique human being that more people should imitate. JoePa’s spirit will indeed live forever.

Joe Paterno: a legendary coward?

The devastation of the death of former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno will forever be remembered in the minds of many. But in what way will it be remembered? Will there always be a scar on his reputation as a role model because of the scandals that occurred at the university? Did Paterno do the right thing as a “righteous man” to avoid the situation that was at hand?

With the trials of accused child sex-offender and former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky going on, Paterno’s name will be right behind his. Many people, including some of the media, let the name of Joe Paterno slide because of who he is and what he has done for the university. Paterno, being at the most responsible possible position as a head coach, could have had these allegations stopped immediately if he wanted to. He could have easily threatened Sandusky with his job or, even worse, criminal charges.

To let someone “off the hook” like Paterno did for Sandusky is wrong. The people who are hurt the most from this are, without a doubt, the children involved. They are forever scarred because of what happened.

Paterno’s image was that of a role model and a leader. He let many people down when he didn’t do the right thing and report Sandusky. The sexual harassment cases were reportedly going on for years. How could the head football coach, especially a man like Paterno, let this slide by?

To be in the same locker room, coach’s office and sideline as Jerry Sandusky should have made Paterno feel like a letdown.

Paterno will forever leavea scar on everything he has done. He will be seen by some as a legendary weakling for not doing what was right. He could have saved so many children, but chose not to. The kids, who are now young adults, have to live with their pain because of Paterno’s cowardliness.

How will you remember him?

Contact John Dvozenja at [email protected].