The man known as "JoePa" was among the most widely known and yes, beloved college football coaches in the nation. But when Joe Paterno died at 85 on Sunday, his legacy was clouded.
Paterno was Penn State University's head football coach for decades. No other major college coach had won more games during his career.
Paterno insisted his players be winners on and off the field. He insisted they were students first, athletes second. "Success with honor" was his motto.
People liked that. They revered Paterno because he proved it was possible to field a winning team composed of young men who worked hard in the classroom and showed sportsmanship on the field.
But the dark cloud that would ultimately engulf Paterno's final days as the Nittany Lions' coach emerged late last year, when former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on multiple charges of sexually abusing children.
Paterno became aware of allegations against Sandusky when they were first made in 2002, and passed them on to his bosses for further investigation. However, after charges were formally filed against Sandusky in 2011, Paterno questioned his own judgment in how he handled the situation nine years prior.
In his own words, JoePa described the situation as "one of the great sorrows of my life," and added, "I wish I had done more."
Paterno's story, then, is among the saddest in college athletics. A man whose career had been a shining example of leadership and yes, compassion, died under a very dark shadow.
The lesson is clear, as Paterno himself must have recognized: One serious lapse in judgment can have a devastating impact on an otherwise stellar career - and even more tragically, on the lives of others.