Former Players Share Favorite Paterno Memories

STATE COLLEGE, PA. -- As hundreds of former players have come to State College to pay their respects to Joe Paterno, they continue to gather, reflect and share their favorite memories.

It started as they attended the private former player viewing yesterday morning. Then it continued at a private luncheon at the Letterman's Club at Beaver Stadium. Then there was an informal gathering at Rotelli as they toasted Paterno's memory.

Some of the favorite memories passed along are from team practices.

"Before team meetings, I used to slap him on his butt and tell him, 'It's a good day to be a Nittany Lion, Coach,' and then go get my seat. Guys used to get a kick out of it because people would be like, 'Oh, he just slapped Joe's butt,' so that's probably one of my fondest memories," says former Penn State All-American linebacker LaVar Arrington.

Many are from Paterno recruiting them.

"When I was actually getting recruited, he showed up at my high school and it was like, 'Joe Paterno came to see me? A kid out of Connecticut?' He came all the way to Connecticut to see me, and it was a big moment in my life knowing that a legendary coach like Joe Paterno came all the way to Connecticut to see me," explains former Penn State defensive lineman Chris Baker.

"My mom and grandmother made a big dinner for him -- a big Italian dinner. It  was his birthday at the time and he came to recruit me, and we were just at the house, and we were just enjoying each other's company, and I just felt so comfortable with him," adds former Penn State defensive lineman Mike Russo. "It was almost a no-brainer to come to Penn State."

And perhaps most of their favorite memories regard Paterno simply asking and caring about their lives and families. One former All-American recalls his last visit with Paterno just after the Sandusky scandal broke in early November.

"He said as we were leaving...he said, 'Hey, how about,' know, he didn't want to talk about anything...about the scandal. He wanted to talk about me and my family," says former Penn State linebacker Shane Conlan. "The last thing he said, 'How about...we found a kid from Frewsburg and made him an All-American linebacker,' and gave me a hug, and that's the last time I saw him. So, it was a very emotional time for me."

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