The legendary leader of the Penn State Nitanny Lions, Joe Paterno, died earlier this morning from lung cancer. He was 85. His death this morning is being mourned by his family, his friends, Penn State alums, the Big Ten and all sports fans across the country.
JoePa, as he was known to Penn State fans, was a father figure at Penn State for many years. He took over the reigns of the football program in 1966 after having served as an assistant coach for 15 year. He never left the University, and eventually became the face of sports at Penn State – a face long associated with honor and integrity in sports. If you are a sports fan, you know who Joe Paterno is.
Paterno's career came to an abrupt end this past year as a scandal erupted within the football program that centered around a former assistant coach. While that scandal has been somewhat attached to Paterno, it would be a shame, from a sports standpoint, for that scandal to be his legacy. Indeed, it's likely that his former players who loved him dearly will step up and ensure that everyone knows the type of man that Joe Paterno truly was. Coaching was so much of his life, in fact, that it was felt by many that the loss of his coaching position would lead to his gradual decline. Apparently they were right.
He was a man from a different era, and it is doubtful that the sports world will see his like again.
Joe Paterno. 1926-2012. You will be missed.
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