That's the Joe Paterno I will remember.
I remember him that way because he brought my family together more times than I can count. I remember riding in the backseat of my grandfather's Cadillac, after a long day of tailgating and having him cuss out Paterno to no end after Alabama, then No. 6, came to Beaver Stadium and beat No. 5 Penn State by two touchdowns. I was 8 and it feels like it happened yesterday.
I remember sitting with my dad and uncle in the third row behind the visitor's bench against Rutgers one season. We took turns egging on the punter until he took a couple steps onto the field on third down only to realize he wasn't up yet. I was 12.
I remember going to games with my wife before she was wife. Now my daughter goes with her while I work. One of the first things my daughter asks when I get back to the car after writing is "What did coach Joe Paterno say today, daddy?"
We did it because of Penn State football and Joe Paterno was, is, and always will be the face of Penn State football. He will be for me and he will be for many other people.
Lydell Mitchell, an All-American halfback under Paterno in the 1970s, said Sunday that Paterno's legacy, while still being written with recent developments, will carry on.
"Joe's legacy will always be intact because we won't let Joe's legacy die," Mitchell said about Penn State's former players.
He had an impact on them, just like his father wanted him to.
If not, when Joe finds Angelo Paterno upon entering the pearly gates sometime soon, he can relay this message from Mike Guman, another former player: "Football's a small part of his legacy, but it goes far beyond that, You could have become a good football player at many places but you wouldn't have become the man you are if you didn't go to Penn State."
Rest In Peace, Joseph Vincent Paterno. There will never be another like you.
n Sports editor Bill Bowman covers college sports for The Daily Item. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or message him at twitter.com/williambbowman.