Sunday, January 22, 2012

Symbolism of Joe Pa's death

It doesn't matter who you are, people are creatures of habit. Whether you want to admit it or not, we like having something constant in our life. Certain things that you can count on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Certain things that no matter what trials or tribulations you may face, whatever rocks are thrown on the road to detour your path, their are certain things that are consistent that you know will be there, to give you that sense of comfort. Most times, we don't recognize what these items are until they are gone.

Joe Paterno on the Penn State sidelines is one of those constant things that people always had, no matter what was happening in the world or in one's personal life. And now he is gone.

If you grew up in south central Pennsylvania and were raised Catholic like I was in the 1980's, there are three of these things you could count on. One was that #8, Cal Ripken was going to play shortstop and bat third for the Baltimore Orioles. For 2632 consecutive games, from the time I was in 2nd grade until I finished grad school, he was always there. The second was John Paul II was going to be Pope. He is really the only Pope that an entire generation grew up with. And the third was that Joe Paterno was going to be on the sidelines on a crisp fall Saturday Afternoon in State College leading PSU out of the tunnel.

As most everyone knows, I've never been a PSU fan. If the term was around when I was growing up, I would have been known as a "hater." But that does not mean that one could not respect what Joe Paterno had accomplished, what he stood for or the type of people he produced at PSU.

No matter what one might have happening in their personal or professional lives, through natural disasters or even wars, Joe Paterno was going to be on that sideline on a Saturday. I've been out of high school 20 years and people were talking then about him retiring, but he even outlasted another generation of students and fans.

Now all of that is gone, a passing in time or a reminder of how old some of us are becoming. Much like Bear Bryant, Paterno goes out shortly after his coaching career ended, almost to the day. Two things I've seen in the last two days, that I tend to agree with. One is that Paterno probably died of a broken heart from all thats transpired the last 2 months. The other is that Joe Pa's legacy ultimately is not finished, for better or for worst. Will the 0.01% of his adult life doom the other 99.99% of his life where he did positive things? Time will bear that out...

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