Here's a quick compilation of what some people are writing about the death of Joe Paterno:
The Harrisburg Patriot-News' David Jones, who has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, writes about the Paterno he knew:
Strictly speaking, I never knew him at all. I mean, how can you say you really know someone when you haven't repeatedly sat and talked at length, one-on-one, without anyone else around? That's the only way you ever know anyone. Sure, plenty of times in small groups. Lots of times the two of us giving it the back-and-forth on a Friday night in some hotel lounge with a few other reporters laughing, usually at my expense. That doesn't count.
But, in another way, the man has pervaded my life. I cannot go on the road and see a group of reporters or friends who know me in any city in this country without someone saying, “How's ol' JoePa?”
That only serves to show the man's relevance, not mine. How many people can you name who remained vital and a part of the country's daily pulse well into their eighties? It never has happened often. In the current age, well, it just doesn't happen at all.
I think that's the most remarkable thing about Joe Paterno. He kept mattering. He spanned three generations and remained significant and forceful in a culture where everything and everyone is disposable.
Paterno's death is a modern-day tragedy, Stewart Mandel writes for SI.com:
The final chapter of Paterno's six-decade run as a public figure was a 21st-century Shakespearean tragedy, dispensed in 140-character outbursts and in front of television cameras. We knew this day would come, and we knew it would be full of sorrow. But we could not have known how much the story would change in the last three months of an 85-year life.
Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel says Paterno's legacy was damaged, but not erased, by his role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal:
Truly great leaders are measured by the lives they reached, the people they motivated and the legacy of their lesson that can extend for years to come, like ripples from a skipped stone across an endless lake.
For Joe Paterno, the impact is incalculable, the people he connected with extending far beyond the players he coached for 62 years at Penn State, the last 46 as head football coach. Paterno always tried to be the giant who walked among the everyman both in the school’s greatest moments and, it turns out, in its worst.
Paterno was a great but flawed man, Bill Reiter of FoxSports.com writes:
[W]hat happened Sunday, I believe truly, is that a good man who made an egregious mistake died of a broken heart. Cancer is a terrible disease, and it, like life and death and the morality tales that make up much of our time here, is a fickle thing all too difficult to understand.
The great man’s death was one of the last transgressions that Jerry Sandusky had a hand in.
The book on Joe Paterno must be judged from cover to cover, not just one chapter, Dennis Dodd writes for CBSSports.com:
On these days there is a tendency to embellish, to romanticize. You heard talk that Joe died of a broken heart or had lost his will to live. There are startlingly similar comparisons to Bear Bryant. Alabama's great coach died of a massive heart attack a month after he retired. Joe had cancer and a broken pelvis. He was 85 years old.
Even legends are mortal.
Maybe that's the lesson today. Joe's legacy is tangled up in moral obligations. Paterno met the legal basics for the state of Pennsylvania but possibly failed his fellow man. After 61 years at one school, should the final two months define a man?
Paterno's legacy is difficult to encapsulate easily, Mike Misanelli writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Old-school guys are often held hostage by old-school thinking. Our fathers, our grandfathers, never wanted to hear much about the things that were wrong. They had grown up differently, had to push their way through tougher situations to succeed. They didn't have the time nor the wherewithal to consider the things that could possibly hold them back.
If you sprained an ankle, cut yourself doing a chore, they would tell you to spit tobacco juice on it and get back in there. Joe Paterno would often rationalize a player's malady as no big deal. "Didn't you have a couple of beers when you were a college student?" he'd ask a journalist who questioned a Penn State player involved in an alcohol infraction.
And so that shapes Paterno's role in the Sandusky case. I believe he felt in his heart he was doing the right thing by reporting to his athletic director what Mike McQueary saw in that shower instead of reporting it to the police, or following up on the incident in the ensuing days.
In typical old-school fashion, the incident was too much of a painful negative with which to deal. The institution was too big, too important, to be cut down by something like that. So consumed, he had lost perspective.
Here's a roundup of Paterno tributes from former players and coaches.