Joseph Vincent Paterno
Joseph Vincent Paterno
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Team: Special

Joseph Vincent Paterno '50
Hometown:
Brooklyn, NY
Sport:
Special
Year Inducted:
1977

Joseph Vincent Paterno ’50, the man the late Stanley Woodward described as a quarterback “who can’t run, can’t pass – just thinks and wins,” is still thinking and winning at Penn State as he establishes himself as one of the great coaches of intercollegiate football history, along with such men as Pop Warner, Knute Rockne, and Bud Wilkinson. But Stanley Woodward missed the mark in his assessment of Paterno’s playing ability. Joe could run – his 69-yard punt return for a TD beat Holy Cross in Brown’s “8 for 9 in ‘49” season; his 64-yard pass to Chuck Nelson helped beat Harvard the same year; and Joe Paterno was one of the finest defensive backs Brown has ever produced. The 5-10, 170-pounder from Brooklyn also had a good football brain in his college days, prompting Coach Rip Engle to say that when the cocky Paterno played quarterback Brown had a coach on the field. Paterno was accepted at B.U. Law School but decided to go with Rip Engle to Penn State “just for a couple of years.” When Rip retired in 1966, Joe became head coach. Over the past 12 season Penn State has posted a 92-20-1 record, giving Paterno the best winning percentage of any active coach. There have been a steady succession of Bowl games, a No. 2 ranking in 1969, and Coach of the Year honors for Paterno in 1968. But Joe Paterno’s success goes deeper than statistics. He has said things that have shocked his profession, such as “football should be fun” and “athletic dorms should be abolished.” He stood up to a former President of the U.S. in defending his players against what he considered an insult. He frequently listens to Beethoven or Puccini when preparing game talks. His philosophy of football and of life is best summed up in the Churchillian idea that success is never final, failure never fatal. Four years ago Joe Paterno became a folk hero to many when he turned down a million dollar offer to coach the New England Patriots, responding perhaps to the bumper stickers and postcards that flooded Pennsylvania saying “Don’t Go Pro, Joe.” Asked to give the Commencement Address at Penn State in 1973, Paterno told the students: “Money alone will not make you happy. Success without honor is an unseasoned dish. It will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.” If a test of a University is its product, then Brown University should be very proud of Joe Paterno.