Notes from outside the Paterno home

Posted on November 9, 2011 

Journalists are currently camped outside Joe Paterno's home. I spent some time there last night and witnessed a tug and war, as reporters, photographers and television crews were trying to get comments from the Paterno family -- and as students were trying to shield them.

Here are some details that didn't make it into the main story:

At about 6 p.m., Joe Paterno's son, Scott walked out and greeted the students.

“Say a prayer,” he told them, “and then please, feel free to cheer, feel free to show your support, but let’s remember ... to show support for the victims first.”

Students chanted “Scott Paterno,” then a few minutes later had a moment of silence, followed by the “We are Penn State” chant, then the alma mater. 

“Everybody, sing the last verse loud,” yelled one student.

Then one of the students started giving out instructions, making plans for how to block reporters when the head coach arrived. Students cheered their support for their idea.

“Hell, yeah,” shouted a few.

Shortly after 6 p.m. Paterno’s wife, Sue, greeted the students.

“He’s on his way home,” she said referring to her husband. “I can’t thank you enough.”

Then members of the media started taking pictures. Sue Paterno raised her hands over her eyes, students started to shout, and Scott Paterno urged the media to stop.

“Guys, guys, she’s not giving a press conference,” Scott Paterno yelled.

Afterward, students defended the tone of the rally.

“People interpret our loyalty and respect” differently, said 18-year-old Shane Berger. ”What we see as us showing our respect, some people just see as being over celebratory.”

Said 19-year-old Gavin Steindhubl: “I think the cheering is very appropriate. ...We’re not really doing it to get in the news or to show the media we still support him. We’re doing it to show him that we still support him.”

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