Joe Paterno: Excerpt from Joe Posnanski's Book Humanizes Estranged Coach
Over the last year, the late former Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno has become the most polarizing figure in sports.
Will you read Joe Posnanski's book?
Posnanski was authorized by Paterno himself to write the biography in the summer of 2011, which had the author in the perfect position to observe the legendary coach as the Jerry Sandusky scandal hit.
Since the death of Joe Paterno, the criminal conviction of Sandusky and the NCAA’s sanctions based on the Freeh Report, the public image of Paterno has been destroyed. Whether the destruction of his name was just or not, the new biography will humanize the coach.
Of all the excerpts presented on GQ.com from the upcoming book, the following has to be the most powerful. It truly delves into what the man behind the icon felt as the world he had built around him collapsed:
On Thursday, Paterno met with his coaches at his house. He sobbed uncontrollably. This was his bad day. Later, one of his former captains, Brandon Short, stopped by the house. When Brandon asked, "How are you doing, Coach?" Paterno answered, "I'm okay," but the last syllable was shaky, muffled by crying, and then he broke down and said, "I don't know what I'm going to do with myself." Nobody knew how to handle such emotion. Joe had always seemed invulnerable. On Thursday, though, he cried continually.
"My name," he told Jay, "I have spent my whole life trying to make that name mean something. And now it's gone."
There is little doubt that Paterno didn’t act in the proper fashion when it came to addressing the allegations levied against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky at the time Mike McQueary reported them, but the way in which the moral compass fell from grace so fast is heartbreaking.
Before Paterno landed the head coaching job at Penn State the school was nothing special, but decades of hard work made it one of the biggest college destinations in the United States. The influence on the football field afforded the school the ability to hire better teachers and become the educational force it has become.
With all of that said, the mistake of not reporting suspicion of Sandusky’s actions was wrong and he has paid for that dearly.
While the footage we have seen of the statue coming down or the name being taken off of buildings is a clear sign of the changing times, none of the pain felt by anyone else can be compared to the pain Paterno himself felt in his waning moments.
This biography will open everyone’s eyes to what it’s like for an icon to fall from grace first hand.
Check back for more on the NCAA Football as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s College Football page to get your fill of college football.
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