Hectic day - took a road trip with Marci and some friends to pay our respects at the Joe Paterno Memorial Service today on campus. It was absolutely amazing to be in the building and see everything live. Speeches came from past players, students, the first Mayor of Paternoville (who just happens to be in our tailgate crew), and the Dean of the Liberal Arts College. The highlights were one of the more moving speeches I've ever heard courtesy of Jay Paterno and commentary from two of my fraternity brothers, Jimmy Cefalo and Phil Knight. If you missed it today, do yourself a favor and catch the highlights or better yet watch a re-broadcast. The trumpet solo of Hail to the Lion at the close is a touching moment worth seeing as well.
It was a surreal experience, filled with laughter, tears, stories, and reminders that there will never be another Joe Paterno. I'm still a bit in shock that I was able to be a part of this in person, which is something I'll always remember in the years to come. A remarkable day to give tribute to a remarkable man. We stopped by the Paterno statue on the east side of the stadium - an avalanche of flowers, cards, posters, hats, shirts, and countless other tributes were left by fans at the base. We left behind some white roses, a small offering for a larger than life coach.
|One of the homemade signs, damp with a day's worth of rain. And tears.|
|This + The Deli's baked potato soup? Aw yeah.....|
While all of the speeches at the memorial today were inspiring, I officially have a new man-crush. Phil Knight, CEO of Nike, spoke from the heart about his relationship with Joe, and how Joe had been his "hero" for the past 12 years. He shared some touching and humorous stories about Joe, but towards the end he changed gears and the tone of his remarks. It was surreal to watch; Knight, a polished executive, started speaking quickly and emphatically. Do yourself a favor and watch the video - it's very much worth your time. If you don't have ten minutes, the exclamation point Knight hammers home is this: "If there is a villain in this tragedy, it is in that investigation and NOT in Joe Paterno's response to it. And yet, for his actions, he was excoriated by the media and fired over the telephone by his university."
BAM. Phil Knight didn't attend PSU and has no connection besides his personal relationship other than we wear Nike gear (like most other colleges). So for someone of his magnitude to go on record and vigorously defend Joe speaks volumes about the character of Coach Paterno, a PSU Board eager to find a scapegoat, and an unchecked media only interested in making splashy headlines.
I take back my earlier statement. I don't have a man-crush. I think I have a new hero.