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Joe Paterno a study in contradiction

1/22/2012

Just 18 months ago, at the annual Big Ten Football Kickoff in Chicago, I half-seriously asked Joe Paterno if he kept a bucket list. He was 83 at the time and his voice was often faint, to the point where you had to lean in close to hear his response.

Paterno had no idea what I was talking about. So I told him a bucket list was a list of things you wanted to do before -- and then I caught myself.

Too late.

"Before I what," said Paterno, suddenly engaged, his voice in full, operational Brooklyn mode, "die?"

Everyone at the interview table, including Paterno, got a laugh out of the answer. We laughed because Paterno was probably the last person who needed a bucket list. There wasn't a championship he hadn't won, a trophy he hadn't hoisted or a victory total he wasn't going to surpass. In fact, other coaches put "Meet Paterno" on their bucket lists.

Read more from Gene Wojciechowski.