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Paterno's hearing problem made fun of on national radio

December 14, 2010 - Cory Giger
The interview was sad. There's no other way to put it. And now Joe Paterno is being made fun of on national radio shows.

In case you haven't heard it, there's a link to the right of JoePa appearing on a radio show in Tampa last week. He couldn't hear a word that was said by the host, and the interview quickly turned sad and embarrassing for the legendary coach.

And by extension, for Penn State.

Today, Howard Stern, Colin Cowherd and Jim Rome all played the interview on their national radio shows to poke fun at JoePa. The interview has the host screaming his questions and Paterno being unable to hear them. So the rest of the country found out what those of us who have been around Paterno for a while already know: He can't hear.

Like many of you, I am in the camp that believes Paterno can coach as long as he wants. He's earned that right through everything he's done for the university.

But what the JoePa diehards must understand is, if he's going to continue to coach as long as he wants, then the program will suffer in ways big and small, from recruiting to getting embarrassed on the radio.

I don't like talking or writing about this stuff. I really don't. I often get accused of being a Paterno basher, and it couldn't be further from the truth. I respect and admire the man and all he has done for Penn State.

Joe Paterno is, as many have said before, the epitome of everything that's right in college football.

Still, it's my job to report and comment on the news. And this latest news is difficult because no one wants to see Joe like this.

It's sad to watch. And hear.


Here's my column from a few weeks ago about JoePa needing a hearing aid. Some fans ripped me for writing it, but in the face of this latest interview fiasco, it's time to face the facts: If he doesn't get a hearing aid, Paterno will continue to put himself and the program in embarrassing situations.

From Nov. 28

JoePa's hearing problems must be addressed

Joe Paterno can't hear well anymore, and if he plans to return as Penn State's coach in 2011, he needs to get a hearing aid.

That's not meant to be mean or disrespectful. It's simply pointing out a long overdue fact.

We have a video linked on that shows JoePa being asked in his postgame press conference Saturday to evaluate quarterback Matt McGloin. As has been the case many times this season, Paterno didn't hear a very simple question that was worded clearly and succinctly -- this time by Joe Juliano from the Philadelphia Inquirer -- and he got confused.

He somehow seemed to think the question was about Rob Bolden and started talking about how it was a "dumb question."

It was sad to watch the scene play out from just a few feet away in the media room, and the online video captures the uncomfortable tone that could be felt by everyone there.

This man is a legend. He's an icon. But his decision not to do something about his hearing and his rambling responses because of that have led to some embarrassing situations that are hurting the Penn State football program.

If a high school player is being recruited by a lot of schools, don't you think other coaches are showing the kid videos like the one that played out Saturday?

"Why would you want to go to Penn State?" the coach will ask the kid. "Paterno can't even hear you."

JoePa sometimes comes across as a senile old man, and that probably could be easily corrected if he just did something to improve his hearing. His mind is still sharp, which he has proven on many occasions recently.

Paterno is a tough guy, perhaps the toughest you'll ever meet. He's probably too proud to admit to himself that he needs a hearing aid, just like many people are when they get into that situation.

But this shouldn't be about pride or Paterno proving how tough he is.

You can't run a Division I football program when you can't hear.

It's ironic that the video we have linked on our website was shot by Mark Brennan of Fight On State. Earlier this year, when Brennan asked Paterno to clarify a response, the coach fired back, "That's tough. Get a hearing aid."

JoePa needs to take his own advice.

Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or

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