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Rest in Peace “Joe Pa”

Joe Paterno receives a plaque celebrating his 409th career win after the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 29, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions defeated the Fighting Illini 10-7. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Have you ever asked yourself the question, how will people remember me when I am gone?  Each and everyone of us will be remembered by our accomplishments in our lives.  More importantly, our lives should be looked at in the aspect of how many other people’s lives we had an impact on during our time here on this Earth.

In the case of legendary college football coach Joe Paterno, he touched countless lives throughout his 46 years at Penn State.  Sadly, Joe Pa passed away at the age of 85 this morning from complications due to his treatment for lung cancer. 

Paterno’s numerous accomplishments included becoming the all time winningest coach in college football history this past season.  He won an astonishing 409 games, as well as 37 bowl games, and 2 national championships.

What really separated Paterno from other college football coaches was how he preached education before football.  In most cases a student athlete is an athlete first and a student second.  People must remember that these big time college athletic programs generate millions of dollars for their institutions.  Paterno made sure that the majority of his athletes graduated from college.  Under his leadership, 85% of them went on to receive a degree.

Paterno’s legacy was forever tarnished after it became known in November of 2011 that he failed to report former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky to the authorities after hearing about him molest a child in the shower.  Paterno did report the incident to university officials, but most felt that he should have done much more considering the severity of the accusation.  Joe Pa was fired before he could finish what turned out to be his final season at Penn State. 

What we must remember is that Paterno did not commit theses unspeakable crimes.  He did fail to take the necessary precautions to see to it that Sandusky be put away a long time ago.  I think it is important to remember Joe Paterno for all of his accomplishments and for the lives that he touched along the way. 

 It is a shame that Paterno’s last few months were filled with sadness and heartache.  Everyone makes mistakes in life, it is part of being human.  When history looks back  at Joe Paterno’s life, hopefully it will be noted that his accomplishments overshadowed his mistakes.  Never the less, we lost a true sports icon today, there will never be another Joe Pa.

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