Maybe you heard that the Energizer Bunny reached age 20 a few days ago.
The “ever-going” hare was featured in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and when all other units ground to a halt, it was still drumming forward, somewhere around 34th Street.
“Somebody stop that rabbit,” a parade official yelled….
There’s a good chance that this advertising icon doesn’t have an “off” switch.
Millions of us, across the span of two decades, have borrowed the commercial’s familiar “going, going and going” line to describe long and fruitful lives.
Some “on-going” celebrities include 90-year-old radio personality Paul Harvey, entertainment star Mickey Rooney (still performing on stage at age 88), and Joe Paterno, who is prepping for his 60th consecutive year of coaching football at Penn State University. Like the bunny, they may not have “off” switches….
As 2008 comes to a close, Paterno is much in the news.
With the light of 82 birthday candles still glowing, the university announced a three-year extension of his contract. This is a thread of good news in the world’s fabric that is tattered in so many places….
I hope his team does well in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. The Rose Bowl Stadium was dedicated three years before Paterno was born, and it is the home of the only football bowl game older than he is.
Whatever the outcome, he remains as classy as they get. His players graduate, and he runs a clean program. Not once has there been an NCAA investigation.
A while back, there was a clamoring to determine his salary. It turned out to be $512,000, with none of it paid by tax funds. This is a pittance when compared with other big-time coaches’ contracts. He joked that he is “paid well, but not overpaid.”…
While I don’t know Paterno personally, I do know Grant Teaff, Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association and a valued friend for a half-century. He says that Paterno is “the real deal.” That seals it for me.
Teaff calls him “one of the truly great people I’ve ever known.”
When the Teaffs’ youngest daughter, Layne, was nine, she didn’t share her dad’s sentiments for Joe….
At the Cotton Bowl game in 1975, the Nittany Lions opposed Teaff’s Baylor Bears, who had just captured their first Southwest Conference championship in a half-century.
As time grew short, the Bears tried an onside kick. The ball bounced straight up. A Lion ran under it and raced untouched into the end zone.
In the nine-year-old’s view, it was Coach Paterno’s “fault.” She felt that he was running up the score. Layne vowed to hit him with a rock after the game….
Sure enough, she found a rock at the stadium, but she couldn’t find Paterno. (Turns out, he was in the Bears’ locker room, congratulating the BU players who had led during the first half, but lost the game, 34-14.)
A few days later, Joe was back in Waco to address the Baylor football banquet. Hearing about Layne’s ill-fated rock-throwing plan, he visited in the Teaff home, primarily to tell the youngster that there was no intent to run up the score. He handed her a huge Nittany Lion stuffed animal and a big box of chocolates.
Later, Grant asked if her feelings toward Coach Paterno had changed. “He’s alright,” she answered….
Paterno already has won more games than any other Division I coach; he also has most bowl wins and most undefeated seasons.
Still, he’s experienced slings and arrows from full-grown adults old enough to know better.
One of his critics indicated that in the early going, Paterno gave a stagecoach to a new recruit….
Jobs worth doing include both pressure and criticism; such assignments are not for the faint of heart.
Who knows how long Paterno will “keep going?” I hope it’s a long time, and when the “off” switch is pushed, he’ll be the one doing the pushing.
I think of him, and others, every time I read bullfighter Domingo Ortega’s telling poem: Bullfight critics, ranked in rows crowd the enormous arena full, But only one is there who really knows and he’s the man who fights the bull….
The topic of renowned persons in old age brings Dr. Billy Graham to mind. The spiritual hero to millions of people around the world turned 90 a few days ago.
Franklin Graham, his son, summed up Dr. Graham’s status with a single sentence.
He said that his dad is not afraid of dying, but isn’t much good at handling old age….
Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@ speakerdoc.com. Call: 817-447-3872. His website: www.speakerdoc.com.