Rep. Barletta joins PA delegation in commemorating the life of Joe Paterno

Feb 9, 2012
Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, PA-11, joined other members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation on the House floor Thursday to commemorate the life and accomplishments of former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno.

Rep. Barletta’s remarks as delivered:

MISTER SPEAKER,It’s easy to judge Joe Paterno’s career by the numbers.

Four hundred nine career wins – which a Division I coaching record.

Thirty-seven bowl game appearances, with 24 wins.

Five undefeated seasons.

Sixty-two years at one university, 46 of them as the head football coach.

Many of those numbers will never be equaled or passed.

But those numbers weren’t the most important things to Joe Paterno.

JoePa coached the greatest players in Penn State football history. Franco Harris. Shane Conlan. LaVar Arrington. Curt Warner. John Cappelletti. Kerry Collins.

More than 350 of his players signed NFL contracts.

Seventy-nine first-team All-Americans.

But again, those numbers weren’t the most important things to Joe Paterno.

Here’s what mattered to JoePa:

Forty-seven Academic All-Americans; 37 of them first-team.

An 87 percent graduation rate in 2011 – 20 points higher than the national average.

And, according to the New America Foundation, no achievement gap between its black and white players.
Joe Paterno loved coaching at the college level because he loved preparing young men to succeed in life. He turned down several offers to coach in the NFL. He made far less than other college football coaches.

During the memorial service for JoePa, a native son of my district, Jimmy Cefalo of Pittston, captured the essence of his coach.

Cefalo said, and I quote, “He took the sons of the coal miners, and he took the sons of steel mill workers, and of farmers in rural Pennsylvania with the idea that we would come together and do it the right way. The [Joe] Paterno way. … Those thousands, literally thousands, of young men taken from generally small communities looking for direction at a very young age … this is Joe Paterno’s legacy.” End quote.

That sums it up perfectly. Without Joe Paterno, thousands of young men from the smallest towns and townships of Pennsylvania might not have received a quality college education.

He saw all of these young men as his sons, and he wanted the best for each and every one of them.

Outside of college football, JoePa lived a life as plain as Penn State’s uniforms.

He lived in the same simple ranch house for 45 years.

His home phone number could have been found in the White Pages.

For years, he drove a Ford Tempo.

His trademark rolled-up pants were not a fashion statement but a practicality: he rolled up the cuffs to save on dry cleaning bills.

But when it came to the university he loved, the university that educated his five children and thousands of his players, Joe Paterno was exceedingly generous.

Joe Paterno, his wife, Sue, and their five children announced a contribution of $3.5 million to the University in 1998, bringing Paterno’s lifetime giving total to more than $4 million.

Joe Paterno’s personal life was humble. His humanitarian life was remarkable. And his professional life was legendary.


You can watch a video of Rep. Barletta's remarks here.