People have been asking about my feelings on this weekend’s passing of Joe Paterno. My phone has not stopped ringing with requests for interviews about Joe.
I know this will be a very long week for me. In a blog entry I posted after his last interview, I pretty much said my piece about my relationship with him and my thoughts on how he handled the scandal.
I really thought I would wake up angry and upset today, ready to fight against what I feel took Coach down that final road of no return, but I didn't. Instead of gearing up to lash out and let my emotions get the best of me for the second time, I actually woke up feeling a great deal of peace.
I began recounting so many times I heard that loud distinctive voice directing and teaching. I started envisioning all the funny little moments, like when I use to smack Joe on the behind at team meetings and say, “Good day to be a Nittany Lion coach!”
I remember the pregame speeches. Boy could he deliver a pregame speech. There are so many moments yesterday evening and this morning that I'm recounting about my time at school with him.
I remember one time he sent for me to come to his office. At the time that was a scary invite, and I was right; my grades had started to slip after I became a “superstar” and he got into me pretty good about it.
The reason why I feel peace about Joe's passing, is because all that Joe was is what I represent today and will pass on to my children.
People may try and tear down his legacy. They will attempt to turn Joe into something he was not because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. I waged war on the Penn State board of trustees because in my opinion they allowed this to happen.
My focus was misguided. I should've approached the coaching search the way Joe would have — with grace and thoughtfulness. I made a terrible mistake when I said I was done with Penn State. I let frustration and anger guide my actions.
But today my focus is not about attacking those who wish to say or do things to try and tarnish his legacy or ours. It's not even about defending him in the media every day. Joe's work speaks for itself. Through it all, he maintained the man that he was and even when he had one last chance to open fire on those who sacrificed him, he didn't. I realize it's our actions, in how we live our lives and impact others, that will forever tell the true story of Joseph Vincent Paterno.
Today I'm rededicating myself to strive to work harder, to be better — a better husband, a better dad, a better son, a better role model. Today I will carry the lessons taught to me by the great people who have graced my life and work to be better.
The biggest tribute I can give to Coach Paterno is taking all that I've learned from him and apply it in my life. I, too, someday will cease to exist on this earth physically, but to know that my good works impacted someone so much that they would speak of me the way I speak of my former coach today, that's the best way for me to honor the man who for three years taught me in his own way what it took to be a man.
Thank you so much for being a great example, Joe. I will keep your memory alive as I too am not a perfect man, but yet and still a man. That means I can admit when I've made a mistake. I will protect and provide for my family, I will never yield standing on my spiritual, moral values and principles. Most important, I will always keep God first in the things that I do in my life.
I didn't see Joe much after I left school, so selfishly a small part of me will continue on as if he is still around just enjoying retirement. I hope in some way, maybe he is.
Take care, Joe.
LaVar Arrington, Class of '99. We are Penn State.