Bill Lyon has a heart-breaking column on Joe Paterno. Coach Paterno, now in his 55th season at Penn State, is the most admirable living figure in American sports.
A month shy of 78, his Lions program has fallen into disrepair, and the chorus of those who want him to step down grows weekly. It is terrible and gut-wrenching to watch.
I interviewed Paterno once. I went through Penn State's athletic department, and some secretary scheduled an appointment for the two of us to talk over the phone. Having grown up not far from Penn State, I was--there's no graceful way to put it--incredibly excited.
On the day we were scheduled to talk, my phone rang exactly at the appointed hour--he was prompt to the minute. I picked up the phone and said, "Hello." And he said, in that famous high voice of his, "Hi, Jonathan? This Joe Paterno. . . . I'm the coach of the football team at Penn State. . . . How are you?"
We talked for a long while; the conversation was as easy as talking with my grandfather. Real humility--not the fake kind politicians wear for us--is so rare. Paterno may have been the humblest man I've ever spoken with. And not just humble but deeply smart and wise, too.
It's a terrible thing to see a great man struggle. I'm praying Coach Paterno is given whatever grace he needs.
4 hours ago