More: Remembering Joe Paterno
The biggest sports story of the weekend was the passing of Joe Paterno, whose death was announced Sunday morning in a statement from his family. Paterno was an icon in sports, coaching at Penn State for more than sixty years. While the Penn State community mourns his passing, local and national columnists pay tribute to his contributions and assess his legacy.
David Jones of the The Harrisburg Patriot-News penned a moving column which highlighted his personal interactions with Paterno over the years. He narrowed in on a meeting between Paterno and his mother, which he used to highlight the importance and relevance that the coach has maintained even as the world around him changed over the years.
How many people can you name who remained vital and a part of the country's daily pulse well into their eighties? It never has happened often. In the current age, well, it just doesn't happen at all.
I think that's the most remarkable thing about Joe Paterno. He kept mattering. He spanned three generations and remained significant and forceful in a culture where everything and everyone is disposable.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! sports assessed Paterno's legacy amid the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal and his removal this November as head coach. Wetzel wrote that Paterno's role in the scandal cannot and won't be forgotten, but there are too many other good deeds that will define the man and his legacy.
Via Dan Wetzel of Yahoo!:
He was the rock. He was the constant. He was the conscience. He was JoePa, his nickname suggesting a fatherly quality to not just his players, not just Penn State students who could still find his number listed in the local phone book and not just Nittany Lions football fans.
He was a larger-than-life figure in the small, bucolic town of State College, and if you wanted to draw something good and decent from college football, well, here's where you always could. Don't worry, he'd still be there, as unchanged as ever.
Sally Jenkins, who sat with Paterno for what would be his last interview, added context to that discussion from last week.
If nothing else, Paterno said, maybe the Sandusky scandal would help drag the subject out of its dark corner. It was one of the last sentiments he expressed. On the final morning he would ever spend at home, he sat propped in bed and insisted on answering a few more questions - that's how important it was to him to talk. In just a few hours he would be taken to the hospital, and remain there until he died Sunday morning.
Finally, ESPN's Ivan Maisel directly argues in his column that Paterno's legacy over sixty plus years outweighs the ignominious ending this past year.
The Sandusky scandal has revealed that Joe Paterno missed in real time what may be seen so plainly in hindsight. The scandal has cast a shadow over a brilliant coaching life. But even the darkest of eclipses are temporary. To say that this scandal should obscure all that came before it ignores the meaning of legacy.