The Legacy of Joe Paterno: Hero or villain?


Jamaal Fisher| Staff Writer

In regards to the notorious Penn State scandal, one is often persuaded to take sides. Questions also come to mind when choosing. “Who was wrong?” “Was every possible action taken to ensure that it would not happen?”

Hopefully we are all sure that Paterno did not commit any of the inhumane crimes that are alleged, but we know for a fact that he was aware of them. In help with choosing sides, many assume the position of a parent- whether figuratively or literally. If it were your child in a situation similar to the alleged victims, you would assume that a man of Joe Paterno’s stature would do everything in his power to stop it from ever happening.

Despite the dark cloud covering Joe Pa’s legacy in the eyes of the public, there are undeniably many great things he has done, not only for Penn State, but for the players he has encountered during his sixty-one years with the organization. Many are willing to praise him because of the many sacrifices he’s made as a coach. For instance, other colleges and professional teams such as: the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York giants and New England Patriots have offered him very wealthy contracts, but for the love of the school and students, he turned them all down.

Coach Joe also has a rather large family. With his wife, Suzanne, he has five children whom produced seventeen grandchildren. As the head of the family each had someone that they could idolize and admire as a hero.

This leads to the question: “Hero or villain?” Although the choice would seem like a no-brainer, there is much to think about. Of course Joe Pa would be considered a hero in the eyes of his children and theirs. He has sacrificed much time to the team and the school. His players would also be ones to consider him a hero. He sacrificed his time with family while on the road as Coach Joe.

He has also sacrificed his physical health. One time, in 2008, while showing players the correct way to execute an onside kick, Paterno dislocated his hip. He seemed very heroic in the eyes of his players to be willing to take on an injury for the sake of his team, a team that would go on play in the Rose Bowl.

Regardless of these views, many would not regard him as a hero because he may have had the power to prevent the alleged acts of his former colleague Jerry Sandusky. Many argue that Paterno should have done more to stop them. From parents to athletes, no one would want anything of that nature to happen to a child, and would do all that they could to stop it from happening, and because Joe Paterno did not, they are unable to view him as a hero. To them he is a villain- assuming the “you’re either with us or against us” persona.

Be that as it may, Joe Paterno lived. He lived through many historical events and created some of his own. He lived for what he loved and loved it until his death, devoting the majority of his time to the many students that he has impacted as a coach as well as his family. For that alone he will be admired by many. And to answer the question of his legacy; Joe Paterno was- at the end of the day- human.


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