November of 2011 is something the Penn State family will never forget; the time when the Jerry Sandusky scandal made headlines. Sandusky, a former assistant coach of the Penn State football team, was charged with over 40 counts of serial sex abuse of minors. To this day, nearly 6 years after the scandal broke headlines, Penn State fans can't seem to catch a break.
Joe Paterno was suspected of knowing what happened with Jerry Sandusky and not speaking out. Even now, it has not been proven as to whether or not he knew, and we won't get the real story since coach never had a hearing in court for this. The NCAA went through a long process of trying to take away 111 of Coach Paterno's wins. The statue of Paterno that resided outside of the school's beloved Beaver Stadium was removed as well. The NCAA and the rest of the country tried to shame Penn State as a whole when, in reality, Penn State came out stronger than ever. We are tired of being silent or feeling ashamed for one man's actions. I am not denying that any of this scandal happened; however, Paterno's name now seems to only be associated with that and people outside of Penn State do not get to understand who he really was
An announcement was made recently that Paterno will be honored on the September 17th game against Temple to commemorate what would have been his 50th season coaching Penn State football. The recognition for someone who played such a key role in making Penn State football what it is today is coming too many years too late. Sadly, within three months of retiring, in January of 2012, coach Paterno passed away at the start of the scandal that still scars the school today. In July of 2012, the Paterno statue that stood outside of Beaver Stadium was taken down. Today, football fans wear Paterno shirts and are proud to watch the legacy that Penn State football has become. We stand together and support a man who was so much more than just a football coach.
Former players still stand with Paterno today and speak up for him since his passing. In July of 2016, 212 football players who played under Coach wrote a letter to the president of the university, Eric Barron, and the board of trustees. In this letter, the players demanded that the statue of the man who influenced their lives in hundreds of different ways be put back in its rightful spot. They also asked that an apology be issued to Sue Paterno, Joe's wife.
Paterno was a firm believer in all things Penn State. He donated millions to the school and the academics. He was a humble man who did not take any money from a TV show he did weekly. He cared for his team and players more than anything and only missed three games in his 46 years of coaching. Coach was committed to keeping high graduation rates for the team. He believed in his players and pushed them to be the best they could be, one day saying "Today, you've got a decision to make. You're gonna get better or you're gonna get worse, but you're not gonna stay the same. Which will it be?" The players on the sidelines seemed to tower over Paterno but his presence was bigger than all of them.
We have faced a hard 6 years and survived a four-year bowl sanction as well as recruiting sanctions, however, our love for Penn State football has only become even more intensified through this. We stand together and will not let one coach's actions speak for an entire team and organization. When Joe Paterno finally has his moment again on September 17 in Happy Valley there will be tears shed and cheers for the man who changed the face of college football forever. WE ARE Penn State and we stand with Joe Paterno.