Final Play: Fred Hickman's Final Word - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Final Play: Fred Hickman's Final Word

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I was told once that when a person loses a loved one, a spouse, a child or a parent, there's a certain feeling one gets. I can't explain it. There's the loss, yes, but there's also a sense of grief which goes beyond description.

I feel that way tonight about Joe Paterno, the former head coach at Penn State University "Joe Pa"...the winningest coach in Division 1 college football history. He passed away this morning at the age of 85 due to complications of lung cancer. That's the 'medical' explanation.

But, somehow, somewhere deep in my soul, I believe Joe Paterno died of a broken heart.

The man won 409 football games as a head coach. He was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

He won two national championships and produced great men ...not just players...such as Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell... the latter got to spend a few moments with the coach in his last days, and said "Joe's legacy will always be intact because we won't let Joe's legacy die," and i think that's 100% right.

This is not about Jerry Sanduscky and the child molestation charges he faces. I hope Sanduscky pays, but today is not about a twisted guy who has allegedly done unspeakable damage to countless unknown numbers of young men over the years. That's for the courts to decide.

I believe the unbelievable controversy, which cost Paterno his job and his legacy, hastened his demise. Paterno lost the one thing he loved more than anything else, his team.

Should he have been more proactive in stopping his assistant from allegedly harming young men in the program? Yes.

Should he have understood things and standards have changed since the good old days of 1966 when he took the job and such things, as sexual molestaion, simply weren't discussed in public? Yes.

Is this the day we should throw a man, whom I believe to have been, essentially a good man under the bus? Absolutely not.

I grieve for Paterno's widow and family.

I grieve for Penn State football.

I grieve for the game.

And, I think that the sports landscape is better because Paterno was here for a season, in God's time.

That's my final word.
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