Everyone knows that Joe Paterno turned down offers to coach the Steelers and New England Patriots.
But Ernie Accorsi, who served as general manager of the New York Giants, Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Browns, said Paterno rejected other NFL opportunities.
Back in the late 1970s, the Giants wanted Paterno just for their general manager position, Accorsi said. “But Joe didn’t want to leave coaching,” said Accorsi, one of many mourners who paid their respects Wednesday at Paterno’s funeral service.
“That was the franchise Joe would have leaned toward (coaching) because he grew up in New York.”
Later, when Accorsi was in Cleveland, he said he telephoned Paterno to gauge his interest in becoming head coach of the Browns. Paterno said no, but not without making a joke that probably was more than half true.
“You don’t want to hire me,” Accorsi said Paterno told him, “because you (would be) going to work for me.”
So, Accorsi readjusted his thinking and hired Marty Schottenheimer to coach the Browns.
Accorsi, who served as assistant sports information director at Penn State 42 years ago, said Paterno could have been more than a football coach.
“I think Joe could have done anything,” Accorsi said. “Joe could have been a major politician, a government official. God only knows what he could have done.”
MORE FROM A DAY OF MOURNING
Paterno made an impact on many lives, especially that of former Penn State wide receiver Jimmy Cefalo, who spent 20 minutes speaking with reporters about his former coach.
Cefalo said one of Paterno’s favorite sayings was, “Every day you are going to get better or you are going to get worse, but you are never going to stay the same. What’s it going to be today?
“I ask myself that question every day, but until the last few days, I didn’t acknowledge every day that it was Joe who said that. It just became a part of my being.”
“Just keep hustling. Something good is going to happen.”
Said Cefalo: “Back then, I thought he meant football. He didn’t.”