Memories of JoePa

Jan 27, 2012, 10:03 PM | Updated: 10:08 pm

Even though I only met Joe Paterno twice in my life, I
know him so well. If the measure of a man’s legacy are the
kind of people he leaves behind, there may never be a more
influential coach than Joe Paterno.

Over his 46-year career with Penn State University, JoePa
mentored thousands and thousands of boys and turned them
into men, men I am proud to know and would trust with the
lives of my family.

Michael Zordich, Shane Conlan, Todd Blackledge and many
more are some of the finest individuals I have ever been
around and every one of them point to Joe Paterno with
love, respect and gratefulness for teaching them so much
about football and life. Knowing these men makes me see
why Joe Paterno was so revered.

Joe Paterno was a great football coach. But what he
accomplished off the field was far more prodigious than
what he accomplished on the field. Winning more games than
any other college football coach that has ever picked up a
whistle pales in comparison to the lives he touched and
the boys he helped turn into men. And this is the sad
irony of this beloved man:

He didn’t do enough.

Where he helped so many boys turn into square, strong men
of conviction, he failed one boy in particular. Joe Pa’s
“greatest sadness” was that he wished he’d done more – for

I refuse to remember Joe Paterno for this failure to do
more; the reality of my Penn State brothers won’t let me.
Just because he failed one boy in particular cannot and
will not blot out the countless boys he served so well.
It’s not an either or situation. Everybody’s life cannot
be boiled down to word association.

I’ll remember JoePa as a great football coach that was
just a man. No matter how good JoePa was, no matter how
many men he helped, no matter how many millions he gave…he
was just a man, subject to the same flaws and frailties we
all are.

Knowing I am chief of all sinners, a man saved by grace, I
will never judge Joe Paterno for not doing more. I am able
to discern what is right and wrong – to judge – but I will
never bring condemnation with that judgment.

Unfortunately, the Board of Trustees did not have that
luxury. They did what they had to do.

In the winter of 1988 Joe Paterno was sitting in the
living room of the home I grew up in; he was recruiting my
younger brother, Dale. I listened to this man speak of his
love – Penn State University and Penn State football – and
almost wished my brother Dale would go play for him. Even
though I played – and proudly so – for West Virginia
University! He spoke eloquently, sincerely and powerfully
of what he would do for Dale and what the university would
do for Dale.

JoePa’s recruiting strength was rooted in his honesty and
iconic reputation. He was one of the greatest college
football coaches in the country and he wanted my brother
to play for him. It was a powerful combination, a one, two
that almost won the day (Dale played for West Virginia).

After saying his good-byes, telling my mother how much he
enjoyed her sticky-rolls, he told Dale he would be in
touch and got into his car with Dale’s high-school coach
in the middle of a classic Buffalo snowstorm. He backed
out of our driveway and into our mailbox that was
partially buried by a snow bank. The mailbox bent
backwards and JoePa drove away – oblivious to what he had

And that’s how I’ll remember him: a great football coach
that was just a man.

Ron Wolfley

Follow @wolf987FM...
Ron Wolfley

Tiger Woods is the Lord of the Headlines

Tiger Woods is still dominating headlines but the golf world has moved on. In terms of production, this is a man that hasn't been relevant in years but whatever he does cameras, microphones and interest follows him like TMZ on Travolta.
8 years ago
Follow @wolf987FM...
Ron Wolfley

Adrian Peterson’s perdition

There's a ton of subterfuge swirling in and around the Adrian Peterson affair. Rumors and innuendo seem to be the currency used to build arguments as to where Minnesota's talented back is headed. So let me add to the speculation:
8 years ago
Follow @wolf987FM...
Ron Wolfley

The curious case of Chris Borland

Good for Chris Borland. He made an immediate decision through a long-term lens and he seems to be at peace walking away from the game he loves and played so vigorously.
8 years ago
Follow @wolf987FM...
Ron Wolfley

Markieff Morris: Do your job

"Do your job," Bill Belichick said, running his harry hands through his greasy hair. "Nobody is responsible for how you play but you…not your mother, not your aunt Edna…do…your…job."
8 years ago
Follow @wolf987FM...
Ron Wolfley

The threat of Los Angeles is a powerful one for the NFL

The NFL has always been a progressive sports league but what they have done with the L.A. market may be their masterpiece.
8 years ago
Follow @wolf987FM...
Ron Wolfley


Recently, LeBron James tweeted something out that clearly referenced Kevin Love. He implored the social media populace to stop trying to "FIT-OUT" and start trying to "FIT-IN."
8 years ago
Memories of JoePa