I'm not writing a memorial or my own personal obituary on the passing of Joe Paterno, and no one is more shocked about that revelation than me. I've spent my entire life prior to November as a Penn Stater who idolized Joe Paterno — long before I attended Penn State's University Park campus for four years.
I met him as a child at a luncheon, taking a picture with the legendary coach and getting his autograph. I saw him Saturday after Saturday from the moment I remember having the ability to see things, and I always envisioned him living forever. Then, as I got older and wiser and discovered that no one can outrun death, I always imagined him dying on the field on game day, most likely in Beaver Stadium in front 110,000 people who flocked to State College in large part because of him.
As we all know, things did not end that way. After the scandal broke and he was summarily fired, I think everyone knew he'd be gone in a matter of months, if not sooner. Unsurprisingly, that's what happened, an old man left with his legacy tarnished and his health failing him deciding it was time to hang the black shoes up.
Given my own history as a Penn State graduate and lifelong Nittany Lion, I thought I'd have something profound to say, or at least something heartfelt and earnest like I did when the great Harry Kalas passed away. But as I've read the obituaries, the good and the bad, I'm left with nothing more to invest emotionally in this whole entire mess. I don't want to write a glowing tribute to the man I knew for the majority of my life, and I don't want to downplay his great deeds nor his fatal downfall. Truth be told, I don't want to think about Joe Paterno at all right now, as selfish as that sounds.
I've been a part of Penn State my entire life and continue to be a part of the university. I should have something to say about the most important man in Penn State history. But words fail me. I've been thinking about Penn State and Joe Paterno and a horrifying scandal too much as it is. I just don't have any energy left. In time, maybe that will change. In fact, I imagine it probably will.
But today, I'm left with nothing to add, nothing to share, nothing to say. Joe Paterno is dead, and all I can contribute is a moment of silence.