Joe Paterno Dies of a Broken Heart

Posted by By at 22 January, at 14 : 55 PM Print

One of America’s greatest idols and sports leaders has died today. The immediate cause was cancer. We all know that the real cause was the unfair firing he experienced from the Penn State board of trustees.

Given how much Joe loved Penn State, the college students there, the State College community, and setting the high standards that most Americans quietly sought to emulate, Joe was broken hearted after receiving a scribbled note to make a call, and after making the call, being fired 40 seconds later, when he was hung up on.

Joe Paterno did not abuse the kids who Jerry Sandusky abused. He did not stand idly by while the horrors continued. Joe Paterno reported what he was told, within 24 hours, to his superiors, and was not responsible for what happened afterwards. Lots of people attacking Joe as though he was responsible demonstrates the failure of a large segment of American culture.

In the spirit of modern America, the faster a hero dies, the better we all feel about our own weaknesses and failings, as though our heroes weren’t really so superior after all.

Sure, Joe could have done more. Can’t we all say or do the same for something we have witnessed, like a car stalled by the side of the road that we pass by? A person struggling with heavy groceries, or bills? Someone engaged in nefarious behavior, but we look the other way because we “don’t want to get involved”?

Lots of arm chair sheriffs and would-be vigilantes have been spawned by the Sandusky scandal. Lots of “Why, I woulda socked him in the jaw, and then thrown him down, and then handcuffed him and led him to the police myself, if only I had been there…” Lots of that phony cyber hero crap, and that’s what it is, crap, has been written, not only out of frustration with Penn State’s failure to snag Sandusky early, but with Joe’s “moral failing” to do more.

Sure he could have done more. But so could the PSU board of trustees, long ago, when the first reports came out about Sandusky in 2002. By tearing down one of America’s great icons, the trustees enveloped themselves in a mantle of superiority…more crap.

Joe Paterno died of a broken heart because his one awww shucks destroyed an incredible 60-year career field with nothing but atta-boys, with generous giving and building that set the highest standard for loyalty and commitment.

Joe deserved better than he got in the end, and he died from having his will to live broken. I will miss you, Joe, we all will miss you.

Rest in peace, hero.

Photo by Penn State Football

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A product of rural Central Pennsylvania, Josh First enjoys hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, canoeing and saltwater fishing. He is a graduate of Westtown School in Chester County, Penn State University, where he majored in political science and minored in history, Middle East Studies, and Spanish, and Vanderbilt University, where he obtained a Masters Degree in Government with emphases on economics and statistics. Josh's work experience includes the U.S. EPA in Washington DC, the PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, the first Pennsylvania Director for the Conservation Fund, a national non-profit conservation group based in Arlington, VA, where Josh helped protect about 50,000 acres, including the Flight 93 crash site, and the acquisition of the last piece of Pickett's Charge in Gettysburg Park. Josh now runs www.appalachianland.us, a full-service real estate company in Harrisburg, with clients and investors in the natural resource, timber, natural gas, mining, and construction industries. Josh is a serial political campaign volunteer, and ran in the 2009-2010 Republican primary for the PA-17th Congressional District (www.joshfirst.com). He served on the Tom Corbett for Governor Environment, Energy and Sportsmen committees, and was a member of the Corbett-Cawley Administration Transition Team for Environment and Natural Resources. Josh is a board member of several state-wide and regional organizations. He is married with three children, and lives in Harrisburg. - Email Josh First

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