Joe Paterno and Penn State Football.
400 wins (# 400 today).
Age nearly 84.
He became head coach at Penn State my senior year in high school- 1966. Think about it.... Lyndon Johnson was president when he became head coach. The Vietnam War was beginning to get more attention, computers filled rooms, FM stereo radio was a novelty, gas was cheap, and Super Bowl #1 was still a few months in the future.
He's been on the staff there since I was 2 - 1950. Look at it this way:
Paterno has been on Penn State's coaching staff for 682 of their 1,204 games, 56.6% of all games played by the program dating back to its inception in 1887.
Truman was president when he started coaching at PSU.
Philadelphia Inquirer sports writer Phil Sheridan posted this earlier today:
He has not remained young. Paterno has aged, sometimes gracefully and sometimes not. He is stubborn and occasionally seems oblivious to the world beyond Happy Valley. He has dealt with injury and illness and ever-changing social mores.Yes, in many ways he is a throwback to a different world. Joe Pa may have over-stayed his welcome; many have called for his retirement for years when things weren't going as well as they could.
But today he is still there. No, it won't be much longer, I am sure. There are hardly any other records for him to set. Age will catch up. It always does. Even Joe Pa can't escape that. But in his coaching he has shown his incredible commitment and focus. That's where his concerns and values in life have been maintained.
Six years ago my 26-year old nephew back in Pennsylvania was dying. Friends and family wanted to get him a Paterno-signed jersey. But what everyone heard and knew was that Joe Pa didn't do those things during the season. You didn't get in the way of his coaching. Until one of my nephew's friends let Joe Pa know what the situation was.
He signed the jersey and my nephew was given it at a party in his honor less than a month before he died.
There aren't many like Joe Paterno. There never has been. For good and bad, better and worse, we have been honored.