After contributing what I think is an important question to the national dialogue about the Penn State scandal, and then relaying what I think is essential perspective from a close friend, I was all ready to go to bed.
Then I saw the front page of ESPN.com, and the spectacular juxtaposition of images jarred me to the point of one more post.
I’ll just let the screenshot below speak for itself before I comment:
I’m sure you don’t need me to explicate the connection, but I’ll do it anyway: Joe Paterno, once considered the most immortal of college football immortals, waving goodbye to throngs of supporters on the night of his firing…with an ad for the movie Immortals running directly above him.
Surely this was not at all intentional and is rather just a randomly appropriate (or I suppose ironic) juxtaposition, but the reality that it hits home is truly jarring.
Has there ever been a figure in the history of sports whose job, reputation, and respect were more secure than Joe Paterno’s? Ever? I can’t think of one. We’re all humans, and none of us are immortal, but JoePa really was as close to being immortal as any of us can ever imagine.
Now he’s just another fired football coach, dealing with a feeling – the feeling of being fired – that 99.9% of his peers have to deal with at some point during their careers.
Yet, of course, the feeling for Paterno, and for the rest of us, is 99.9% different than it would be for any other coach.
Because he was a college football immortal.
Wow. What a day.
What a gawdamn day.