University Park, Centre County—Sue Paterno with her children and grandchildren are surrounded by thousands who turned out to pay last respects to the late Joe Paterno during a public memorial service. Players from each of the decades during which Paterno coached, spoke of how he impacted on only their lives but so many others. Former player Kenny Jackson says, "Coach never wanted complements. He never wanted to be the focus, but today my teacher we will show you how much we loved you."
Honoring a distinguished Penn State career spanning 62 years Todd Blackledge, a quarterback in the 80`s when Penn State won two national football championships reflected on "Joe-Pa`s competitive spirit, his loyalty and commitment to team. "For Joe it was always about team. No names on the back, just the name on the front. I always thought that was odd since our jerseys didn't have any names on the front either."
The "Memorial for Joe" wasn't just about football, but academics. Joe and Sue Paterno having an impact on students through the Paterno Fellows program, which provides scholarship money to deserving students. Scholarship winner Lauren Peritti says "Joe pushed his players on the field, he also pushed for academics for all of us."
Nike CEO Phil Knight also spoke. He told the crowd Joe Paterno was his hero for the past 12 years. He drew a huge ovation when referencing Paterno being fired from his job as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Knight says Paterno did what was right, and there is a villain in the investigation, and it's not Joe Paterno and how he reported the allegations.
At the end, a standing ovation for Jay Paterno who coached with father for 17 years. He thanked everyone for their prayers and support, and told stories of how his father impacted the lives of people around the world. Jay Paterno also shared the message he shared with his dad just before his passing. "I whispered in his year, and told him his work was done, that you did all you could go, and now you can go home".