After days of discussion, debate and debacle, legendary Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno announced today that he will retire at the end of this season, amidst talk that he might not have done enough regarding an allegation of child sex abuse against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.
It’s truly a sad story, one that is bigger than Penn State football and one that is wider-reaching than Happy Valley, Pennsylvania. We all grieve for the victims and their families and hope that, if the allegations are proven true, those involved truly do pay for their crimes.
The backlash has already extended beyond just Sandusky – the accused – and high-ranking university officials, who are already gone from their positions. After 61 years on the job, Paterno, at age 84, won’t be on the sidelines for the Nittany Lions next season.
Paterno has become synonymous with Penn State football – heck, with college football in general. And now, his legacy will be tarnished because of one decision – or rather, lack of decision – he made.
What if Paterno had stepped down 14 years ago – at the age of 70, with 50 years of coaching under his belt, and before the alleged encounters even happened? How would we all remember him? Would it be differently than we’ll remember him now?
It seems to be just another case of a person not knowing when to quit. So who else fits into this category?
• Nationally, here’s a list of Washington politicians who overstayed their welcome. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman are on the list.
• In local sports, what about Joe Torre, the legendary New York Yankees coach who led the team to numerous World Series trophies but ultimately fell out of favor with the front office? Would he have written “The Yankee Years” if he had just left following the team’s championship 2000 season?
• Staying with sports, many Staten Islanders would say their neighbor Rich Kotite remained head coach of the New York Jets for roughly two seasons too long – which, if you’re counting, is exactly how many he spent with the team. After winning only four of his 32 games as the head of the team, he bolted town. Word on the street is the Richmond County Country Club pulled Kotite’s membership the day after he was fired – good for them!
• Patrick Hyland was a rising star in the Staten Island business community, until authorities found out that he was dodging taxes by stealing other people’s identities. The 35-year-old former vice president of the Chamber of Commerce allegedly avoided paying taxes on $38,000 over eight years. Seems like a risky move with not a lot of benefit.
I’m sure there are plenty of others who are slipping my mind now…so remind me below!