Joseph V. Paterno, 1926 – 2012

Goodbye, Joe.

Joseph V. Paterno 1926 - 2012
Joseph V. Paterno 1926 - 2012

Joe Paterno died of metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung this morning at 9:25 AM surrounded by his family. He was 85.

Words fail me at the moment. There is just so much to say that it is beyond the capabilities of this meager blog. All I wish to add to the official statement is that I hope this legendary coach will be properly honored — that bygones can be bygones and that there will be no asterisks next to his achievements. I would hope that the Maxwell Club would think again about restoring his name to their coaching trophy, that he will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously, and that other knee-jerk reactions of that sort can be reversed. There will never be another like Joe.

The Nittany Turkey wishes the Paterno family comfort at this time of loss.



  1. Lizzie says

    Although I have no relationship with Penn State other than through the Nittany Turkey and having followed the “happenings” over the last little while, I feel sad that Joe had to end his long career and his life on such a low note. I know the “tar and featherers” out there may think otherwise but his long and successful tenure as the coach and his achievements should always be remembered. It seems he went quickly at the end, as those often do with small cell carcinoma of the lung, but perhaps it was exacerbated by all that came down.

    • says

      Yes, no doubt Joe dealt with a lot of stress toward the end. He had also exacerbated his prior hip fracture. All these things combined had to exact a toll on Joe’s constitution — however, the guy was as tough as nails and he didn’t go down easily. I believe he fought right up until the inevitable end.

      There will always be detractors, especially on the Internet, because cheap, anonymous shots are easy, but Joe has left a larger than life legacy of achievements both on and off the football field. Giving $4 million of personal funds to the university is an example of his generosity; the graduation rate of his athletes is at the top of NCAA Division I football programs along with Stanford.

      To those of us who are in any way associated with Penn State, the loss is tantamount to the death of a family member. Joe Paterno was more than just a football coach to us.


    • says

      One other thing worthy of mention, a lot of which is my conjecture prompted by some flimsy information and filled out by adding two and two, perhaps getting twelve. Last summer, Joe cancelled some speaking engagements because he was sick, and at that time, the nature of his illness was not disclosed. It is possible that his lung cancer was diagnosed at that time. Paterno is the type of guy who would prioritize treatment of a serious illness lower than running the football team. So, if my wild-ass conjecture is true, he told the docs that they could treat it only after the close of the season, which would have been January 2. As it turned out, he was fired on November 9, so he sought treatment shortly after that date, and at that time disclosed his illness to the public. I think he probably knew about it since summer, and coached nine games with that knowledge.

      Again, just my conjecture. If it is true, it is consistent with the type of man Joe Paterno was. I respect that approach to his responsibilities: family, job, then self. “The show must go on.”


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