Letters to the Editor

Posted: January 24, 2012

Paterno could energize a crowd

I was privileged to hear Joe Paterno give a stirring speech to General Assembly members in January 1982. He started by saying that his primary goal in life, besides winning football games, was to see his students graduate, and that he was very proud of his record in both regards. Then he told the legislators that they were not holding up their end of the bargain. I remember him saying:

"The funds you provide for education, not just to Penn State but to all of the schools in the commonwealth, are not sufficient. You are not giving all of the kids an equal chance. They come to us with problems of all sorts. My coaches and I can take them and help them succeed on the field, but we need more to see them stay in school and graduate.

"After a team loses, on Monday I tell them, 'This is the three-point stance. Take it! Take it!' Then I show them how to do a cross-body block. 'Do it! Do it!' Then I show them how to tackle around the legs. 'Do it! Do it!' Then we practice all these fundamentals for two days straight. Only when I think they've got it do we get ready for the game on Saturday. Before the game I tell them, 'If any one of you gets out there and fails to show me you know how to block and tackle, you're coming out of there. If you fail again, you're gone. Gone!'

"So what does this have to do with you here in this room? I want you to go back to fundamentals. Take that three-point stance, block, and tackle, then vote for the funding and resources we need to do our job - to win football games and to see those kids graduate. If you fail, I hope the voters will pull you out of there!

"Now get across that river and do what you know you should do!"

The whole room stood up with tremendous cheers and applause. It was then that I learned about the brilliant and steadfast JoePa. He could really energize a tough audience - and his football players.

Richard Greeley, St. Davids

Long career of achievements

My gratitude and admiration are for all of the good that coach Joe Paterno gave to his family, students, college, sports, and society. We have lost a wonderful human being. He applied all that was proper and right for those he touched to become better and pursue success on their own. JoePa understood his roles and expected others to do theirs, which may not have always happened. However, let's never lose sight of the long career of teaching, coaching, and other achievements that Joe amassed for our university. Matching Penn State, the sky is blue and clouds white, but today all is gray.

Dominic Marucci, Philadelphia

To bury, not to praise

For Joe Paterno, from Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2, by William Shakespeare:

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

"I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;

"The evil that men do lives after them,

"The good is oft interred with their bones,

"So let it be with Caesar."

Norman R. Goodman, Langhorne, nrgoodman@juno.com

One more name for the list

You can add another name to the list of Jerry Sandusky's alleged victims: Joe Paterno.

William D. Markert Jr., Philadelphia

School is about more than football

Penn State's standing as a "highly ranked center of teaching, research, and social contributions" has in no way been diminished by the current scandal ("Stay focused, Penn State," Thursday). The reputations of internationally recognized scholars remain unchallenged. Departments with national rankings stand as they were. The faculty convene classes and critique draft dissertations. Research labs continue on a 24/7 basis. Mentors promote thousands of student and staff social contributions across the commonwealth. The trustees acted with determination and diligence once they had the facts they were deprived of by the former university president and others.

The real scandal is that we equate university standing with the fortunes of intercollegiate athletics, especially football. It's a canard that Penn State's reputation rests in the hands of a handful of coaches or a single legendary figure, 80 unpaid NFL minor-league players, wealthy boosters, and a dismissed president. The scandal will be resolved in the courts. There probably is nothing Penn State, or any other Division I powerhouse, can do about the absurdities of the NCAA commercial football complex.

We must recognize Penn State as a stronghold with an untarnished academic reputation. This commonwealth will only prosper to the extent its private and public colleges thrive in their academic missions, not their teams.

Kelsey Murdoch, Ardmore, kelseymurd@verizon.net

Dangerous talk about Iran

Paul V. Kane's opinion on Iran shows how badly thought out and dangerous our policy has become ("Iran's threat is an opportunity," Thursday). Our paranoid view of the communist threat led us to the debacle of Vietnam. Were we to follow Kane's suggestion to seize Iranian territory, Vietnam would seem like a minor headache.

The real threat of Iran is its terror network. What would it do with a nuclear bomb, blow up Tel Aviv? Not only would the retribution be terrible, it would irradiate Jerusalem, and the nuclear cloud would follow the prevailing winds back to Iran. However, they probably already have enough radioactive material to create a dirty bomb, which could be smuggled into an American city.

The majority of Iranians are under 30. Most despise the ayatollahs and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Change will come to Iran over time if we can just keep the pressure on and not do something crazy. We can find a way to coexist in relative peace.

Mitchell S. Rothman, Merion Station

War against Iran would be nightmare

Paul V. Kane proposes that if Iran carries out its threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, the United States and its allies should react with military action. I agree that in such a case we should sink Iran's navy, destroy its bases, and the bases of any shore-launched missiles that could threaten strait traffic. However, Kane also proposes that we should follow up with a full-scale invasion of Iran's Hormozgan Province, which would provide us with a base for further military raids against Iran's suspected nuclear sites. Is Kane serious? We just got our last troops out of Iraq and he's proposing we start yet another ground war in the Middle East? Such a war would dwarf the Iraq war in both size and casualties. And he would leave the Iranian government intact, free to mobilize its people to repel the invaders. It would be a nightmare.

Scott Washburn, Philadelphia, scottwashburn@comcast.net

Obama makes mistake on pipeline

The Obama administration's decision to stop the oil pipeline from Canada was a big mistake. America needs a reliable source of petroleum from a friendly country such as Canada. Instead, President Obama yielded to extremists in the environmental movement who believe that if the pipeline is not built, the oil will stay in the ground. Almost certainly, this is another mistake; that oil will be going west to a Canadian Pacific port and then to China. How could the Environmental Protection Agency have studied the environmental impact of this project for three years, reached the conclusion that there was no impact, and then reverse itself? The loss of many thousands of potential jobs is a big loss for America.

Arthur Horn, East Windsor

Weeping over children's mistakes

A letter writer asserts that "in other lands, there are plenty of mothers who have no problem with their children killing and maiming" ("Advocating peace has its limits," Friday). Such arrogance and lack of understanding continues to earn us enemies around the globe. There are plenty of Americans who kill over taxis and beat homeless veterans on city streets. Do their mothers have a problem with that? Of course, because that's what mothers do, worry about and weep over their children's mistakes.

Marie Conn, Hatboro, mconn56@yahoo.com

Why the fuss over slaughtered horses?

While agreeing that Kelsey Lefever should be subject to chastisement and opprobrium for not keeping her word, and perhaps even prosecution if she broke the law, this vegetarian is bemused by the front-page placement for a story about slaughtering horses for meat ("Horses' fate shocks sellers," Thursday). Why all the fuss about horses? If the only criterion for deciding if an animal is appropriate for slaughter is its intelligence, then pigs are certainly every bit as intelligent as horses, dogs, and cats.

K.S. Bhaskar, Malvern

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