Finishing Well – Thoughts on Joe Paterno

January 24, 2012

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Yesterday, I was commenting on an article written by Jeff Goins about Joe Paterno. (Click here to see it). As the words flowed out of me, I realized I had something I needed to process about Joe Paterno’s fall from grace and recent death.  Here is my rambling.

I am a life long Penn State and Joe Paterno fan. My father went to Penn State. I have fond memories of trips to State College for college football games. Trips that were not complete without some ice cream from the Creamery, where they serve “Peachy Paterno” ice cream.

Joe was the ultimate good guy. His fall from grace cannot be underestimated among Pennsylvanians. (If you are not familiar with story, this article gives a good overview). A heavy heart does not describe the sense of loss.

To put this in perspective, it is like finding out Mother Teresa was corrupt or Mr. Rodgers hated children. I am not exaggerating. Joe was elevated to god-like status among Penn State fans.

The winningest coach of all time. A man who ran a clean program in an era of scandal. As blue-collar as they get, Joe would jog on the field with his team well into his 80’s.

I will be the first to say Joe messed up. He was a good old boy, naive, and well out of his league when it came to handling this type of thing. He was an old school football coach. I truly believe he did not know what to do.

This said, when you rise to the stature he did, you are responsible to learn and adapt. He could not stay ignorant to these kind of issues. He needed to know the types of things that can surround sports in today’s age.

This is where he failed.

We as leaders must continue learning and adapting. Ignorance is not a good defense when people are getting hurt. We cannot just pass the responsibility up the food chain, we must protect our most valuable assets; people.

I told my wife when Joe was fired that he would be dead within the year. This man lived and breathed football. Sadly he did not have even a year.

RIP JoePa.

Do you have any thoughts about leadership in light of this tragedy?

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons by Flickr audreyjm529

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God