As many of you already know, I grew up in a Penn State Family. My Grandmother was a 1935 Grad of Penn State. 3/4 of my adult family, including myself, attended the university. My dad swears to this day that I came home from the hospital in a Navy Blue and White striped beanie. My Saturday afternoons were spent sitting next to my day on our familie's couch watching the man in the thick glasses, with highwaters up to his knees, guide the most boring offense in college football to victory after victory against the elite teams in the nation, and I loved every minute of it.
I learned names like Tim Manoa, and Steve Smith. I collected autographs of D.J. Dozier and Blair Thomas. I watched the 1986 Orange Bowl on VHS, over and over again. I was in the tunnel when BYU came to Happy Valley in a night game, and gave a high-five to Ty Detmer before he took the field. I was in Pasadena to witness the first ever Rose Bowl Penn State played in as a member of the Big10; a 38-20 pounding of helpless Oregon. I was at Beaver Stadium to wittness the Lavar Leap, and saw first hand when we lost in the final seconds to Michigan at the Big House.
One of the first tee shirts I can remember having as a kid said: "If God Isn't a Penn State Fan, Then Why is the Sky Blue and White". Every fall, my dad would search the stores for black Nike football cleats with a white swoosh, just like the ones Penn State would wear, for me to play midget football in. We never found black ones in my size, so I always wore white as a kid, but in my mind, they were black.
I can remember sitting at my grandmothers house on Saturday watching the game(she never missed one - even on the day she died, she was watching the game before she passed), and listening to her curse at that damn Paterno for calling what she deemed as a stupid play; yet in the next room, on a small wooden desk, sat a cardboard stand-up Joe. It very conveniently stood beneath a diploma bearing her name, which hung next to a plaque that showed a picture of Old Main, with the words "For the Glory" written above. A brick is cemented in the new wall at Beaver Stadium bearing her name, with the same words, "For the Glory" etched below.
Last night I lay in bed trying to sleep, but sleep did not arrive; only tears. It has honestly been years since I have cried, and the emotions I felt last night were only human for someone who has invested a large part of their life enthralled in the aura that was Penn State.
I was embarrased, ashamed, confused, and angry at what had happened over the last 3 days. In my mind, I kept replaying the words of our Alma Mater, that I had learned, and sung so many times as a kid. The last verse is the one that brought tears to my eyes:
May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame,
Dear old State, dear old State.
It is a truely tough time for me. I turn on ESPN, and all I hear is Paterno, Penn State.......... I get text messages and calls from from friends throughout the day, asking what the hell is going on. I go to practice in the evening, and the kids all ask, what happened to Joe?
Do I want to see Joe go? Yes. Did I ever imagine, in my wildest dreams that it would end like this? No.
Keith Jackson once said of Joseph Vincent Paterno: "His mother wanted a doctor, his daddy wanted a lawyer or engineer; and all they got was a legend". Well, that legend now has a scarlet letter sewn to the breast of the plaid sports jacket he once so proudly wore, and the legacy he left behind for all of college football as we know it will never be the same.
I have no answers; not to the people who ask questions, nor for myself, so I do what any other person in my spot would do when faced with this situation.......................I cry.