Legendary Joe Paterno is more than a winner

John Dvozenja

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.

Contact John Dvozenja at [email protected].