Protesters turn backs while Penn State plays tribute video to Joe Paterno

The Washington Post

Penn State's decision to honor controversial late Coach Joe Paterno during its game against Temple on Saturday evoked mixed reaction, with Nittany Lions fans giving standing ovations while Temple fans and others protested by turning their backs to the field.

Multiple tributes aired on the video monitors during the game, which caused the same reaction each time. This is no surprise, considering the reaction those outside the Penn State bubble had when they learned earlier this month the school had planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first game Paterno coached and on Sept. 17, 1966.

While remembered as a great coach in Happy Valley, much of the rest of the world knows Paterno as the man who allegedly remained complacent while one of his assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, sexually assaulted several young boys over the course of decades. Much of the reaction on Saturday while the commemoration was happening reflected that view.

In addition to the tribute videos, former Penn State players and other alumni created a makeshift shrine to the coach where a statue of Paterno stood until six months after he died in 2012. Fans left bricks to remember the wall that stood behind the statue with Paterno's name in it, as well as signs, photos and other items.

The largest gathering of former players since Paterno's memorial service in 2012, the event featured speeches from former Nittany Lions who found success in the NFL, as well as autograph signing sessions, according to the Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

"The key word is legacy," former NFL tight end Tony Stewart said on Saturday via the Morning Call. "At this stage of my life, I can appreciate all the things and people who influenced me, and Penn State and Joe were big influences. Penn State, through Joe Paterno's guidelines, is where I learned a lot about being a man."

Only one protester attended those commemoration events, ESPN reports.

"When I heard Penn State was organizing a tribute to Joe Paterno in any way, shape or form, my blood boiled again," that protester, a New Jersey man named Robert Hoatson, told ESPN. "It's outrageous."

It is unclear when Paterno became aware of Sandusky's activity, although it's highly likely that he knew for decades, an accusation that was confirmed in a report that came out earlier this year.

Sandusky, who was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. Meanwhile, Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January 2012, was fired in 2011, days after news of the scandal broke.

Associated Press

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