Joe Paterno is dead. Following twelve bizarre hours of “is he, isn’t he”, he now apparently officially IS. Considering the mondo-bizarro twists in JoePa’s legacy over the past six months should we have expected any different ending?
Catching an ESPN obituarial special Sunday morning, I was struck with odd tangential connections ‘tween JoePa, Dean Smith and Jimmy V. ……..Whoa!
Before you launch a cyber RPG at moi for a sacreligious besmirchment of your messianic coach of choice…. read me out. Then, assault my Internet castle if you must.
Up until late October whatever opinion you had of Joe Paterno was 99% likely to have been either quite positive or at least not negative. Some folks actually don’t invest emotionally in sports figures. “I think he/she has something to do with sports.…” being the extent of an opinion. I’m that way with members of rock bands and cellists not named YoYo Ma.
YoYo is an on-going giggle in our family along with news story about midgets. I digress……
In late October Joe Paterno’s 40-year superstar legacy moved from the sports page to the Front Page and suddenly Aunt Gertrude and “the shoeshine guy at the airport” all had an opinion on Joe. Other than among the creepy perverts of NAMBLA, it was an unfavorable opinion.
By one’s mid-80s the opportunities for redemptive comebacks from “bludgeoning by media” are pretty well exhausted. Whether guilty as charged or not, the last headlines one garners are the ones freshest over your grave. Keep that in mind as you contemplate future endeavors or how well you have hidden past endeavors.
So JoePa passes on with a public obituary that none woulda predicted just four months ago.
In ESPN’s obituatorial “JoePa’s Life in Review”; they noted he had for decades proclaimed his Penn State football program as “above” the sort of programs run by Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson and Jackie Sherrill to name three that Joe named. The direct implication being “we run a squeaky clean operation populated by Eagle Scouts players and sainted coaches”.
In the past decade or so, those Eagle Scout players began to resemble Crips & Bloods but JoePa was somehow still sainted. Then KABOOM!
Did JoePa only make one grievous error in judgement or is that the only one we know of? How many bodies are buried in John Wayne Gacey’s backyard? I can give Joe the benefit of doubt there was just this one….. but it was a Lulu!
Yeah yeah BobLee. Get to the part about Dean and Jimmy V…. Hold your horses.
The Legend In The Basement aka Dean Smith has, unlike Joe, passed the point of adding to or subtracting from his substantial legacy. His story is writ subject to anything percolating up that might require a quickly added epilogue. I’m not implying there is any such.
Dean is out of the public limelight now. If anything were to bubble up, it would be in a different context than JoePa’s farewell mega-crisis. Here’s hoping nothing does.
The odds of Dame Fortuna dolloping a mustard splatt on the last chapter of Dean’s curriculum vitae are remote. If Dean’s fellow congregates at the Olin T Binkley Tabernacle & Sushi Bar are correct – the ultimate deity in the galaxy is a bisexual unicorn named LeRoy.
Other than that last yucky chapter, Joe and Dean have remarkably similar bios…… Both were one-school legacies, replacing their mentors at an early age……. Their resultant bodies of work were paragons of consistency albeit with only two national championships each…… Both earned Most Wins Ever status and multiple Sports Illustrated covers…… Both gave back to their employers and were synonymous with a sincere concern for the overall character development of the young men they mentored…… The family loyalty of those young men to their mentor is the stuff of legends.
We all knew Joe was old and not firing on all cylinders the past few years; but his cancer was unknown or totally hidden from public knowledge. In the firestorm aftermath, we learned he was ill and then within weeks he is dead.
No one other than rival fan socio-paths are happy or espousing any ridiculous “serves him right” attitude to Paterno’s passing. Will Joe be seen as a martyr now? Will his one life “oops” be expunged from his bio in respect? I predict no to either point. One’s life is what it is…. including any/all parallel lives or other skeletons in attics. Can Charles Kuralt fans say “mistress in Utah”?
To the legacy of Jimmy V….. such was not the case. Had V NOT contracted cancer he would have quickly resumed his coaching career in the NBA and gone on to write many more pages in his public bio. The tumultuous end to his NC State career being no more/less significant in retrospect than John Calipari’s multiple malfeasances are to his.
Jimmy never had the opportunity to resume that coaching career making the final chapters ones of turmoil and controversy. Mediated considerably by the mega-heroic manner in which he played out his very final chapter.
JoePa, like Jimmy V, passed away from cancer while his professional controversy was still fresh in the public mind. Unlike Jimmy, Joe’s circumstances never gave him a final encore for redemption.
I find these tangential connections fascinating. Not everyone will, of course.
There are Two Absolute Certainties in Life:
(1) Some Wuff-goober will send in a comment containing the phrase “just one pair of tennis shoes”….. And
(2) There is a Sale in progress at Jos A Bank.
Now…. on a lighter note