More than just football at Penn State game

Penn State fans send a message while watching Saturday's game against Nebraska. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- On the field it looks like any other college football game. And there are moments when it feels like that, too, when the only thing that matters is whether the guys in the blue shirts can keep the guys in the white shirts from getting those 3 additional yards. But all around the players, all around the field, there are reminders.

Reminders like many in crowd of 107,903 wearing blue, the color of the ribbon for child abuse awareness. Reminders like the 70-plus Penn State lettermen cluttering the sideline in a show of solidarity, or the impromptu chats of “Joe Pa-terno.”

Reminders like new Penn State president Rodney Erickson speaking to the crowd on a video board during a pause in play admitting "this has been one of the saddest weeks in the history of Penn State."

And then there are the signs.


For an entire half, Nittany Lions fans desperately sought something to cheer for, something to help them escape from a week of horrific stress. And the players gave them little. When Nebraska went up 17-0 early in the third quarter, it looked like the game was over. But minutes later, Derek Moye caught a 40-yard pass from quarterback Matt McGloin. Two plays later, Stephfon Green rumbled into the end zone from 5 yards out.

And suddenly, they could yell. They could scream. They could wave their hands and, just for a second, be fans.

It didn't mean they had forgotten. It didn't mean they were ignoring the truth of what had taken place. It was just a way, for a few seconds, to let go.