Penn State baseball is getting started later today with a game against Seton Hall, and this season they will pay tribute to the life of former football coach Joe Paterno with the initials “JVP” on the right side of their caps.
Non-football teams paying honor to Paterno is nothing new of course. The men’s and women’s basketball teams added a black band to their jerseys following the passing of Paterno last month. One of the big questions remains what, if anything, will Penn State’s football team do to their uniforms to pay tribute to the former coach.
Paterno was fired as head coach last November as a result of his link to the Jerry Sandusky scandal (leaving how much of a role he had out of the conversation for today). Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season, and Bill O’Brien was later hired as the head coach. O’Brien said from the start that he would not alter the uniforms at all, speaking fondly of the unique, and plain look and how much of a symbol it has become for the football program and university. This news was met warmly by fans and alumni.
But should the football uniform pay some kind of tribute to Paterno? Perhaps a black bar on a sleeve or JVP initials on the uniform, or somewhere on the helmet?
My best guess is that nothing real visible will be added to the football uniform in 2012, but a black or blue sticker with the JVP initials on the back of the helmet would certainly be something to consider. Paterno, of course, would prefer nothing be added to the uniform in his honor, but those decisions are in the hands of other people now.
The last time, I believe, Penn State did anything to memorialize anybody on their football uniform came following the September 11 attacks. Penn State, as well as most schools and professional sports teams, added an American flag to the back of the helmet. I am by no means attempting to compare the passing of Paterno to the September 11 attacks, but I’m just trying to think back to instances Penn State did alter the uniform without a paycheck coming as a result (Nike swoosh), other than placing a 43 sticker on the helmet in honor of Adam Taliaferro following his injury in 2000.
What would you want to see Penn State do to the uniform in honor of Paterno, if anything? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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