No one can discount the incredible job Joe Paterno has done on the football field in his 44 seasons as head coach at Penn State. He is nothing short of legendary as a football coach. But Paterno has done much more than lead players to victory. He has led students to success and done things the right way for as long as anyone at Penn State can remember.
In the now-era of college sports, where TV contracts and financial stakes play into the focus of coaches, it’s too soon forgotten that the athletes who go out and play the games are still students. Many of whom will become professionals in just about any field but athletics. That is, if their educations aren’t ruined by an overly intense concentration on their sport.
At Penn State, however, the student half of student-athlete is never forgotten — at least by the football program.
JoePa has been building winning teams while molding incredible people. That is why he is now being considered for the highest civilian honor in the country.
Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA, 5th) has sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that Paterno be considered for the award.
In a news release, Thompson stated, “The Medal of Freedom has always stood for those who make a contribution to making our nation a better place to live. I believe Joe Paterno represents an ideal of what student and college athletics should be.”
The honor is traditionally bestowed upon a recipient who has been committed to world peace, the country’s security, interests, culture or other contributions.
Past recipients include Stephen Hawking, Walt Disney, Rev. Jesse Jackson, the crews of Apollos 11 and 13, Fred Rogers, Rachel Carson, Muhammad Ali, and Jackie Robinson among others.