Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In Memorium

"Mine honor is my life; both grow in one; take honor from me, and my life is done."

When William Shakespeare penned the above words, he wasn't envisioning that a Shakespearean tragedy would come to fruition in the tiny Pennsylvania town of State College. But as the life of a man many considered a legend ended on Sunday morning, it's hard to believe the quote wasn't written expressly for Joe Paterno.

Paterno's own motto "Success with Honor" seemed to echo through his 46 seasons as the Nittany Lion's head coach. From the beginning through his record-setting 409th win this past fall, Paterno led his football team to two national championships, five undefeated seasons, and 35 top-25 National Rankings. And his on-field accolades were bolstered by numerous Academic All-Americans, an 85% graduation rate and not one major NCAA infraction.

As the man who would be king registered his landmark win late October, no one could have guessed it would become his last. Less than a week later, JoePa found himself embroiled in one of the most heinous scandals to permeate the sports world. A few days after that, the Nittany Lions were without a head coach.

No, no one would have dreamed that Joe Paterno's storied career would take such a devastating nose dive. The legend was now just an ordinary man, one whose faulty judgement had marred a program of Camelot proportions.

But then again, even Camelot had its issues.

To compound the situation, Paterno was shortly thereafter diagnosed with "treatable" lung cancer. In January, Joe was hospitalized for complications from the treatments. And on Sunday, January 22, he had passed away.

"Mine honor is my life; both grow in one; take honor from me, and my life is done."

Is there any of us out there that doubt Joe Paterno died not from complications with cancer, but from a broken heart? The man who had created the "Great Experiment", who wanted to prove that players could succeed on the gridiron while maintaining high academic and moral standards, had failed to do so himself. His honor was his life; his honor was no longer his greatest asset.

Yes, there is something fairly tragic about the story of Joe Paterno. Some will choose to remember him a great hero, while others will judge his life by his greatest mistake. Let us all remember him as one who had greatness, though.

It's the least we can do.

Image provided by nittanywhiteout.


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