My Joe Paterno Story
Let me first say that my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Joe Paterno. Coach Paterno was a legend in his time and many of the things he has accomplished will never be equaled or exceeded. While he did make some errors in judgment relating to the Sandusky situation, the overwhelming majority of his work will leave those issues in the distant memory as time passes. He has been one of the few college football coaches to succeed both on the gridiron as well as having players graduate under his tenure. In 2011 his Penn State team had the 10th best graduation rate according to the NCAA and his team tied with Stanford for having the best rate among top 25 programs for this year.
I had the opportunity to meet Coach Paterno one day while walking down the street in New York City. Our Family was on a trip to the Northeast and we had taken the train from Chatham, NJ to Penn Station in NYC, immediately under Madison Square Garden.
We proceeded to walk down 7th Avenue and we walked up on an older gentleman, short in stature, with dark hair and a dark tan. I said to my sons, “That is Joe Paterno” and as most teenagers would say they both replied, “You are crazy.”
Not having many shy bones in my body I said excuse me to the gentleman and asked if he was Coach Paterno, and he said that he was. He was friendly and shook our hands and I told him that I thought he did a great job in running his program.
That is the end of the story. You never know how someone who is a celebrity will react when you meet them in person, but he was congenial and friendly and we felt very comfortable in speaking with him.
No one should have their career end in such a challenging fashion and I pray that his good work will be remembered.
He made a profound difference in the lives of many young men and women. We should all be thankful for that.