Just Saying, Is All... | Joe Paterno's Dirty Secret
The best leader is the one with the best followers.
These are heady times for Joe Paterno. The boys are rolling. The base is rowdy. Better still, the boss himself is getting the Lions’ share of the credit—which would be the feel-good story of the season if only it were rooted in truth.
Good coaches let their players play.
Great coaches know the letting isn’t even up to them in the first place.
I’m not shallow enough to spit on an icon. Paterno has done great things in his several centuries at Penn State, and it’s hard to criticize an 81-year-old who’s still paying into Social Security. But even FDR knew the limits of paternalism. No matter how well the executive primes the pump, it’s ultimately the people who make the water flow.
Offense wins games.
Defense wins championships.
The guy in the headset, well—he’s just there to pander to the crowd.
The Cult of the Coach isn’t exclusive to State College. Fans, analysts, Kurt Cobain—everyone who’s anyone pays lip service to the power of the Big Cheese. The problem, as Paterno may well know, is that maturity makes milk harder to digest. The more time you spend nibbling on dated dairy products, the more likely you are to come away feeling just a touch lactose intolerant.
Some leaders are born.
Some leaders are made.
And some leaders are invented in the minds of those who can’t live without them.
We’re all messiah-seekers at heart. We put our faith in salvation from On High, because life hurts and death’s worse and surely Daddy knows how to make it better. Joe Paterno’s dirty secret is that he pulls on his Depends one leg at a time, just like the rest of us—and that he owes his success to all those kids who call him Pa. After a day of deliverance at the ballot box, the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For would perhaps behoove themselves by drawing a parallel.
Keep your Change We Can Believe In—I’d rather have Experience I Can Mock:
Joe Pa is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He hikes his pants up to his armpits;
He shouts incoherently from his golf cart;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.
Even if he can't remember it most mornings.
Because there's no Valley so Happy it isn't haunted by the shadow of mortality, and any player who swears off the comfort of a coach is either stuck in Ann Arbor or only just saying, is all...
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