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Joe Paterno: Best Speeches from Joe Pa's Memorial Service

Eddie RavertContributor IIJanuary 27, 2012

Joe Paterno: Best Speeches from Joe Pa's Memorial Service

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    The public memorial service for the man who built Penn State, Joe Paterno, took place on Thursday.

    "A Memorial for Joe" as the service was formally called, brought over 12,000 people to the Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State to say one last goodbye to Joe Paterno.

    There were a total of 12 people who spoke on behalf of Joe. Among those were former players, friends and a family member.  

    Each speech given on Thursday was excellent. All were filled with passion and love and showed just how much Joe affected people's lives.That being said, here are the top six speeches from the public service memorial for Joe Pa.

    PS: All videos of the speeches can be found at the bottom of each slide.


No. 6: Chris Marrone

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    Chris Marrone represented the players from the 1990's.

    The former PSU player shared his views on Paterno and touched on how Joe Pa treated each player with the same respect, no matter if you were the star or a walk-on.

    Marrone's career fell short due to injuries, and he talked about how Joe was there to support him even when he couldn't suit up every Saturday. He credits Joe Pa for the man he is today.

    By the time I graduated from Penn State, Joe Paterno, the teacher, the mentor, had molded me into a young man with the character, the strength, the ethic, to face any challenge or overcome any adversity.

    He then touched on how Joe always loved to talk about politics and urged Chris to go to law school. He even added a bit of humor, which resulted in a standing ovation.

    When I applied to both graduate and law schools, it was Joe who was the first one to call the deans with a recommendation. And when I passed the bar and earned my master's, it was Joe who was the first to congratulate me.

    And when I finally registered as a Republican, he scolded me first for taking too long, and then he welcomed me to the party.  

    Overall, Marrone delivered a very moving speech that showed how Joe's mentoring never stopped.

No. 5: Mike Mauti

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    Mike Mauti represented the current Penn State Team, which would be the last one coached by Paterno.

    This was a nice mix up from all the other speeches because it mostly consisted of humor and funny stories he had with Joe.

    Mauti reflected on how his father played for Joe Paterno and how not many schools can say one person coached both a father and son.

    Well like father like son, they both used to get heated and get in fights in practice, and Joe remembered that. Mike also did a good Joe Pa voice impersonation. 

    He walked over to me and said, 'Hey, your dad used to act like he was tough, too, tryin' to fight people all the time.' But what other school could you come to and your coach is talking about back when your dad was playing and he knew exactly when it was and he could tell you exactly the guy he fought. That just tells you how special of a place this is.

    Penn State is one giant family, and Mike portrayed that through his funny stories, but through humor, he was able to show just how much Joe Pa cared about everyone he came in contact with.

    Go to 17:24 to see Mike Mauti's speech

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No. 4: Todd Blackledge

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    Todd Blackledge represented players from the 1980's.

    His power and enthusiasm for Joe started right at the very beginning of his speech. Blackledge played quarterback for Paterno, which was the greatest moment of his life, until this moment. 

    Up until today I considered being the quarterback of that 1982 National Championship team, and Joe's first, the greatest honor of my life. Today that's been replaced by being here and having the opportunity to speak at the memorial service of the most extraordinary person that I've ever known.

    Blackledge went on to further joke about how plain Joe and the Penn State uniforms were and how team was the most important thing to Joe Pa.

    He was quoted as saying that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back. I always found that one a little bit odd because we never had anything on the front of our jerseys, either.  

    To Blackledge, Paterno was the father figure for him during his time at Happy Valley. Whenever he had a problem, it was Joe he would turn to, no matter what the issue was.

    Joe Pa, in Blackledge's mind, epitomized what loyalty is, and he couldn't be any more correct.

    Go to Part 2 in this link to see the speech.

No. 3: Jimmy Cefalo

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    Jimmy Cefalo represented the decade of 1970.

    Cefalo played wide receiver under Paterno and humorously talked about how Joe didn't recruit the players, but rather someone else.

    Everybody has the same type of a story. You see Joe didn't recruit us, he recruited our moms.

    Cefalo mentioned how Paterno cared just as much about academics as he did about football, if not more.

    He recalled that Joe's wife, Sue, promised two things: that he would go to class and get a quality education. Joe had an experiment that he wanted all his players not only to be athletes but rather student-athletes.

    We wouldn't just be athletes but we would be student-athletes, and we can say now that the grand experiment was a great success. 

    This was obvious because Jimmy had completed enough credits for his degree at the end of his junior year. He decided to take some easier courses and enjoy his remaining time in Happy Valley, but Joe Pa would have none of that.

    He said 'what do you think you're doing? Look at this class schedule, this is beneath you.' I was no good to Joe Paterno anymore as a football player, but he kept that promise, and it just showed his true commitment to what was really important to him. It was family, it was faith. It was education.   

    Cefalo hit all emotions and payed great respect to his former coach and his guardian angel.

    I'm 55 years of age, I met him when I was 17, and he still guides me.

    Go to 23:38 to hear Jimmy Cefalo's speech

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No. 2: Phil Knight

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    Phil Knight is the former CEO and co-founder of Nike and more importantly, a dear friend to Joe Paterno.

    Knight is the only speaker of the 12 that mentioned the sex scandal, and he demonstrated how he really felt about the issue and more importantly, how much he loved his pal, Joe Paterno.

    This much is clear to me, there's a villain in this tragedy, and it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno's response.

    This caused the biggest, loudest and longest standing ovation of the memorial.

    Knight continued to speak of how strong and unselfish Joe was, even when he was dismissed by Penn State and others. 

    And yet, for his actions he was excoriated by the media, and fired over the telephone by his university.

    Yet in all his subsequent appearances, in the press, on TV, interacting with students, conversing with hospital personnel, giving an interview to Sally Jenkins, he never complained and never lashed out.

    Every word, every bit of body language conveyed a single message: We are Penn State.

    A truly emotional speech that was delivered directly from the heart, Knight wore his colors directly on his sleeve.

    He made it very clear he is upset with the way Penn State handled the firing of his friend Joe and posed a question to the school.

     Who is the real trustee at Penn State University?

    Knight closed his emotional speech by asking who was going to be his hero now that Joe is gone. He made sure people knew that no one would ever come close to being the man Joe was, and that his legacy will always live on. 

    That old hero, he set a standard that will live forever.

No. 1: Jay Paterno

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    The final speaker of the memorial service was Joe's son, Jay Paterno.

    There was no better person to end this service with than Jay. Not only is he the son of Joe, but he also coached alongside his father for 17 years.

    His greatest accomplishment in life was solely being named after his father.

    As you may know my name is Jay Paterno but what I'm proudest of is when you look at my driver's license, it says Joseph Vincent Paterno Jr. and I am so proud to have had that name.

    Jay spoke straight from his heart, talking about how much Joe loved his wife, Sue, how the football players were sons to Joe, and how Joe's legacy will most certainly live on.

    Joe's father Angelo wanted his son to make a difference in life, Jay said during his speech, and in Jay's eyes, he did.

    As Angelo Paterno wanted it, an impact has been made. And that impact has a lasting legacy. A legacy beyond accolades and buildings and endowments. It is in the people he reached and the people he taught.

    To Joe, winning football games was only minuscule.

    As we begin to leave here today, we must continue to live the life of Joe Paterno. Among the things he accomplished in life, it was the games he won that counted the least. It was a son to his parents, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, an uncle, a brother-in-law, and what often seemed to be his crowning achievement in his life, as a grandfather to his 17 grandchildren.

    Joe was a family man, it's as simple as that, it's as simple as Joe.

    Joe Pa may no longer be visible when running out of that tunnel, but he'll be there.

    And he'll be in his Saturday's best, white socks, black Nike's and rolled up khakis. He'll be guiding the school he built in every game and every academic endeavor. The chants of "We Are" will continue to echo the hallowed halls of Penn State, now with each one comes a new meaning.

    Joe Paterno is and always will be Penn State.  

    Go to 4:00 to see Jay Paterno's speech

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