I can honestly say that I don't remember ever not knowing who Joe Paterno was. There are few constants in my 35 years of life, but JoePa was one of them. I did not go to Penn State, but have been there several times. I also know many people who did go there, and this is a sad day for them.
The events of the past few months were certainly tragic. I am not going to offer an opinion one way or the other about Joe Paterno's involvement and participation in those events. I will say though that since he was dismissed from his position as Head Coach, I can't help but wonder if he died with (and because) of a heavy heart.
Growing up a Philadelphia fan in the 80s, things weren't good. The Sixers won in 1983 (when I was 6) and then no other Philadelphia team won again until the 2008 Philadelphia Philllies. So, my childhood memories consisted of two great college wins. Obviously, Villanova upsetting Georgetown in college basketball is one of the most historic upsets in American sports history. My second memory (and most enjoyable) was the 1987 Fiesta Bowl when Penn State upset Miami. This was the game where Joe Paterno totally out coached the alleged great Jimmy Johnson (seriously, anybody who wants to say JJ was a great coach, needs to watch this game, and their opinion would change quickly). Miami had the Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testeverde leading the offense, and the late great Jerome Brown leading the defense. Penn State had a game plan that Miami just could not figure out. They would only rush 3 lineman on defense, dropping 8 into coverage. This lead to 5 interceptions, 2 fumbles (by Miami WRs) and just crushing hits on the wide receivers. I mean, it was to the point where they were scared to catch the ball. It was phenominal. Loved every moment of it. One of the best football games I ever saw.
Some of my favorite quotes from Joe Paterno.