Penn State running back D.J. Dozier kneels in prayer after scoring what would be the game-winning touchdown on a 6-yard run in the middle of the fourth quarter of the Fiesta Bowl against Miami on Jan. 2, 1987 in Tempe, Ariz. The underdog Nittany Lions defeated the Hurricanes 14-10 for the national championship. (Peter Read Miller/SI)
I have nothing but respect for Joe Paterno and his incredible career, and I was deeply saddened by the news. Please do not take this post the wrong way, but I know many of you are thinking about it and it needs to be said.
I am fully convinced that Joe Paterno could have lived and coached another 5 years if it wasn’t for this scandal. I’m not here to pick sides and say who was right or wrong. The whole thing was a tragedy. Absolutely terrible. But I want to talk about psychoneuroimmunology.
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. I am a HUGE believer that the brain is a lot more powerful than we give it credit for and has the ability to fight off and even cure illness and disease.
Please don’t think that I am underemphasizing or downplaying the seriousness of cancer or any other illness. I am most certainly not. I just think that the mind is capable of incredible things.
If Joe Paterno would have kept coaching, I’m convinced he would still be alive today.
Joe was so totally immersed in Penn State Football that he never even gave cancer a chance to slow him down. That wasn’t an option.
But then he’s no longer coaching. He is sitting in the house all day full of guilt, shame, dishonor. And at that point, he allowed cancer to win. As Matt Millen said:
“I just can’t help but think he died of a broken heart.”
One day, I’ll share my own PNI story with you. But for now, open your mind just a tiny little bit to the possibility that the human brain has a lot more power than we give it credit for. Rest in peace Joe.