Charles V. Pittman, speaking for players from the 1960s, called Paterno a lifelong influence and inspiration.
“Now, with grown children grandkids and 42 years removed from my playing days, I thought Joe Paterno had taught me all that he could teach me. I was wrong,” he said. “Despite being pushed away from his beloved game, and under the extreme pressure of the events of the past few months, Joe’s grace was startling.”
Pittman said Paterno pushed his young players hard, once bringing Pittman to tears in his sophomore year. He realized later that the coach was not trying to break his spirit but instead was “bit by bit building a habit of excellence.”
“He was building a proud program for the school, the state and the hundreds of young men he watched over for a half century,” said Pittman, senior vice president for publishing at Schurz Communications Inc., an Indiana-based company that owns television and radio stations and newspapers, and a member of the Board of Directors of The Associated Press.
Thursday’s event brought to a close the public mourning period for Paterno.
Public viewings were held Tuesday and Wednesday morning at a campus spiritual center, followed by a funeral Mass, procession and burial for Paterno that afternoon.
Associated Press writer Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia contributed to this report.