If you follow college football at all, you know the name Joe Paterno. He's been coaching at Penn State for sixty years! He's been the head coach since 1966. I started getting Sports Illustrated as a bonus gift for selling a certain number of subscriptions to the Des Moines Register when I delivered it in 1968. I have been a subscriber ever since.
In this week's edition, Joe Posnanski wrote a great article on Joe Pa. People have been calling Coach Paterno Joe Pa for many years. They could just as well be calling him Joe Grandpa since he is now 82! He is 82, has his Nittany Lions at 7-1 and still going strong. He is the winningest coach in NCAA Division 1 history and has something in common with my coach, Milt Osterberg.
They both coached players who broke their necks trying to make a tackle. In 2000, Penn State was not having a good year, and in the fifth game, freshman cornerback Adam Taliaferro dove in to tackle an Ohio State player. He was paralyzed and doctors told them the young man would never walk again. Fortunately, for Taliaferro, his spinal cord was only bruised and eventually he walked again, even leading his team onto the field before a game two years later.
Both coaches shared something else. They changed. Paterno's son, Jay, who is also one of Paterno's assistant coaches, was quoted in the article as saying there were only two times he ever saw his father cry. Jay Paterno stated, "The first time I ever saw my father cry was when his mother died. Then there was the time Adam got hurt."
I didn't write this post to talk about this accident. I posted it so you can read this excellent article about a coach who has committed his life to turning his players into college graduates and fine young men. He has one of the best graduation rates in the country. He has been offered other jobs for more money and has always turned them down. Whatever you feel about him, he has done a great deal of good for Penn State.
Everyone might not agree with me as far as respecting Joe Pa and what he has, and is continuing to do at Penn State, but I have a deeper appreciation for Coach Paterno and what he does for his student/athletes and PSU. You can read the article by clicking here.
I look forward to your comments.