The Paterno Legacy – Reactions/Thoughts

Story posted April 19, 2022 in Sports, CommRadio by CommRadio Sports Staff

On Monday night, ESPN released a detailed documentary about Joe Paterno, his legacy at Penn State, and his alleged involvement in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal that rocked the university.

After 61 years of dedication to one school, Paterno is an icon who helped shape the Penn State community into what it is today.

Paterno brought success and with it, an engraved mindset and loyalty that seems to go unnoticed by most Penn State students today.

Paterno forever left his mark on the State College community and is a reminder of what was, is, and always will be Penn State.

Here is what our staff had to say about the film. 

“Success with honor,” a mantra coined by former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, has surrounded the university for decades.

With that said, no event jeopardized that more than Jerry Sandusky’s actions as a representative for this university.

ESPN highlighted the legacy of Paterno on Penn State University and how the disgusting Sandusky situation intertwines.

What I’ll say is this, in covering the events, ESPN hit a home run, they produced an informative and relatively objective documentary.

However, where they dropped the ball was with their questioning of current coach James Franklin.

Franklin was ambushed at a presser and what he said rings true, that era is over, one way or another, and as ESPN and others try to keep it relevant, Franklin is right to attempt to continue to move this program and university forward. - Dylan Price

I had a lot of mixed emotions after seeing “The Paterno Legacy” for the first time. It was mentioned that the “Paterno Library” is the only place on campus where you could find anything in remembrance of him, however, they failed to establish that Joe’s monetary contributions are why that library is there in the first place.

The documentary portrayed Joe as a national icon who was the mastermind behind Penn State football for over 60 years, all for his career to end in just four days after the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal first broke.

Notable former Penn State football players were incorporated into the documentary to share thoughts about their former coach, although they all had nothing negative to say about him.

The documentary was centered around the sprawling scandal, and how one man is to blame for the current reputation of the winningest coach of all-time at the major college level.

Joe will be remembered for his love and loyalty to Penn State, but the scandal is a blemish in his career that will leave it forever tainted. Despite all Paterno has done, I feel ESPN produced one of the most honest and professional distillations one could have hoped for, and told the story from a fresh perspective. - Connor Fenix

It's been ten years since the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and Joe Paterno’s legacy is still yet to be determined. ESPN crafted a successful documentary that was as impartial as possible. “The Paterno Legacy” was able to capture the highs and lows of Joe Paterno's tenure at Penn State.

Paterno has impacted so many lives at Penn State and has left a lasting impact on the university. However, his tenure ended on a very dark note by not doing enough to stop Jerry Sandusky.

Joe Paterno was the face of the university and oversaw every decision. It should have been his duty to make sure Sandusky received justice.

ESPN didn’t add anything to the Sandusky/Paterno storyline and raised more questions than answers, but it was effective when reflecting on the idea of honoring a man’s legacy.

Penn State made Joe Paterno bigger than God. There is no doubt Paterno did a lot of good, but nobody's perfect. Paterno’s legacy and his career are not black and white. It’s messy and complicated like the style of play of teams played. - Aidan Torok

The “Paterno Legacy” that aired on ESPN Monday night was at the very least mistitled. The documentary almost exclusively focused on the events surrounding the Jerry Sandusky scandal that broke during the 2011 Penn State football season.

Joe Paterno’s legacy is so much more than what transpired in the final weeks of his life. In my opinion, ESPN did a poor job highlighting how much he did for the Penn State community and the players he coached in his 46 seasons.

ESPN does a great job reporting and putting together stories, but this one felt like a misrepresentation of the man Paterno was. The piece was only about the scandal, which several other people had a bigger hand in than Joe Pa. ESPN slapped Paterno’s name on the documentary to garner publicity and it worked.

I was also particularly displeased with the way they went about trying to get James Franklin to comment on the situation. The reporters at ESPN interrupted Franklin’s weekly press conference in the middle of the season to ask about something that has nothing to do with him.

Franklin was backed into a corner by the reporters, and he did a good job not giving in because anything he would have said would have only hurt him.

The scandal is undeniably a part of the legacy of Joe Paterno, but the man he was and the impact he had was so much more than what they chose to highlight in this piece. - Jameson Kramer

Jameson Kramer is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jek5650@psu.edu.

Connor Fenix is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email cjf5726@psu.edu.

Aidan Torok is a second-year majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email ajt6051@psu.edu

Dylan Price is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email dvp5625@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

Aidan Torok's photo

Aidan Torok

Sophmore / Broadcast Journalism

Aidan Torok is a sophmore from West Caldwell, New Jersey majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He produces content and does play-by-play announcing and beat writing for the CommRadio sports department. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Dylan Price's photo

Dylan Price

First Year / Broadcast Journalism

Dylan Price is a first year student at Pennsylvania State University studying Journalism in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. 
Dylan currently serves as a member of CommRadio at Penn State where he works with other students to cover Penn State and national sports. Outside of sports media, Dylan is an Eagle Scout and serves as a board member for FOTO, a special interest organization benefiting THON. Dylan also hosts his own podcast called, “Ambitious with Dylan Price” where he interviews NFL players, College Football coaches, NASCAR Champions, NHL Legends, Mental Health Advocates, ESPY Award Winners and Former U.S. Senators. Dylan also works as a staff writer for Empire Sports Media and Turn On The Jets covering the New York Jets, New York Yankees, Baseball, Boxing and NASCAR. Dylan intends to graduate and pursue a career in media or coaching as his biggest passion is entertaining and helping others.

Connor Fenix's photo

Connor Fenix

Junior / Broadcast Journalism

Connor Fenix is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. Connor is currently a beat writer for both CommRadio and The Daily Collegian. This summer, Connor plans to land a writing internship in South Carolina. To contact Connor, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him on Twitter @FenixPSU.

Jameson Kramer's photo

Jameson Kramer

Junior /

Jameson Kramer is a third-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. He is involved in the sports department. In addition to Comm Radio, Jameson is involved in the Daily Collegian, and is a member of Eclipse, a THON organization. To contact him, email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).