For 46 years Joe Paterno led the Penn State Nittany Lions football team. On Sunday the winningest coach in college football history lost his battle with cancer.
As news spread of Paterno’s death at 85 years old, remembrances poured in from Happy Valley and beyond:
His family released a statement Sunday morning announcing Paterno's passing:
"It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today. His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled."
Paterno’s son Scott tweeted that he wanted to thank everyone who prayed for his father:
My family wants to express our heartfelt thanks to the hospital staff and doctors. They were amazing and caring -- Thanks isn't enough.
We would also like to thank all of the tens of thousands of people who have been praying - your kindness continues to sustain us.
Finally, to Penn Staters, past and present, know that Dad loves you all and has always loved being part of your family.
"Our family thanks Penn Staters, students & all people for prayers & support for my Dad. He felt your support in his fight," tweeted brother Jay Paterno.
"Susan and I were saddened to learn of Joe Paterno's passing. His legacy as the winningest coach in major college football and his generosity to Penn State as an institution and to his players, stand as monuments to his life. As both man and coach, Joe Paterno confronted adversities, both past and present, with grace and forbearance.
"His place in our state's history is secure."
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) also remembered the legendary coach:
"I was saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Paterno. His long career at Penn State is unrivaled and his accomplishments as the winningest coach in major college football will certainly not be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
Fellow U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) focused on Joe's dedication to Penn State and beyond:
"I want to send my condolences to Joe Paterno’s family and the Penn State community. Joe dedicated his life to college athletics and higher education. His enormous role in building Penn State into the institution it has become will never be forgotten."
Former president George H.W. Bush told ESPN:
"I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Paterno. He was an outstanding American who was respected not only on the field of play but in life generally and he was, without a doubt, a true icon in the world of sports. I was proud that he was a friend of mine. Barbara and I send our condolences to his devoted wife Suzanne and to his wonderful family."
Paterno’s successor, Penn State head football coach Bill O’Brien, remembered Paterno as someone who was "more than just a coach:"
"It is with great sadness that I am compelled to deliver this message of condolence and tribute to a great man, husband, father and someone who is more than just a coach, Joe Paterno. First, on behalf of Penn State Football, we offer our sincerest condolences to the Paterno family for their loss. We also offer our condolences to the Penn State community and, in particular, to those who wore the Penn State colors, our Nittany Lion football players and alumni. Today they lost a great man, coach, mentor and, in many cases, a father figure, and we extend our deepest sympathies. The Penn State Football program is one of college football's iconic programs because it was led by an icon in the coaching profession in Joe Paterno. There are no words to express my respect for him as a man and as a coach. To be following in his footsteps at Penn State is an honor. Our families, our football program, our university and all of college football have suffered a great loss, and we will be eternally grateful for Coach Paterno's immeasurable contributions."
Tom Bradley, who was the interim head coach after Paterno was fired, called Paterno an "icon" and friend:
Words seem to pale in a moment such as this. The terms “icon” and “legend” have been often used to describe Joe Paterno. Certainly, he was both within the world of college athletics. But to those of us who played for him, to those of us who coached with him and to those of us who had the privilege to call him a friend, Joe Paterno was much more.
To me, he was my mentor for 37 years and the lessons that I learned from him as a player, coach and friend will live on with me forever. It was Coach Paterno who saw what I could be and helped me to realize that potential. He was a tremendous teacher not because he knew all of the answers but because he challenged us to find the answers for ourselves. He made us better men than we believed we could be – both on and off the field. And when we lost our way or became unsure of ourselves, it was Coach Paterno who was there to encourage us, guide us and remind us that we must always strive to succeed with honor.
Coach Paterno never believed that his role as “Coach” ended after practice, or when the fourth quarter wound down or when a student-athlete graduated. He was a coach for life. I am deeply grateful to have had Coach Paterno in my life. He was the epitome of class and his spirit will live on in all of us who had the great honor of knowing him and running out of the tunnel with him on so many autumn Saturdays.
My thoughts and prayers are with Coach Paterno’s devoted wife, Sue, his son Jay, with whom I coached so many years, and with the entire Paterno family during this sad and difficult time.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he was fortunate to have developed a personal relationship with Paterno over the last few years. In Meyer's last game at Florida, his Gators beat Penn State.
"We have lost a remarkable person and someone who affected the lives of so many people in so many positive ways," Meyer said in statement. "His presence will be dearly missed. His legacy as a coach, as a winner and as a champion will carry on forever."
Seattle Seahawks running back Michael Robinson, who played for Paterno at Penn State, thanked his former coach. "A morning I will never 4get. Thoughts/Prayers go out to the Paterno family. Thank u Joe 4 helping me become a man. #Greatness #PSU," he tweeted.
Mike Guman, who played fullback for Penn State in the late 1970s, echoed Robinson's thoughts.
"Football's a small part of his legacy, but it goes far beyond that," he said. "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."
Paterno's passing also had an impact of Philly athletes.
Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson never played for Paterno but still felt the impact of his legacy. "R.I.P Joe Paterno many years at high success.. Legacy leads on!! Sendin my prayers to all friends an fam of the Paterno's," Jackson tweeted.
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins kept it simple with his condolences: "R.I.P. Joe Paterno," he tweeted.