Erasmus High Brooklyn
JoePa Could Throw Two Sewers
Let me take you back to Brooklyn, New York some sixty five years ago when Joe Paterno was a kid who could throw two sewers. This is a remarkable feat passing a football the distance between two Brooklyn manhole covers. I have tried to Google that distance but no stats are available. Let me just say it was an astounding feat for us kids—most of us couldn’t get close to throwing a football one sewer….but what made it even more remarkable was there was another kid in my neighborhood who could do the same damn thing. His name was Gene Rossides. Gene played quarterback for Erasmus High while Joe Paterno was quarter backing for Boys High. And when those two schools played each other it was super bowl time. I couldn’t talk for a week after these games. I was too hoarse.
Rossides was my man because he lived on my block and I idolized him and we both went to Erasmus High School. Joe Paterno was the enemy who played for Erasmus’s nemesis Boys High. But the two quarterbacks had a lot in common. Both were first generation Americans as were most of us kids. Both guys were small. Imagine a five foot eight quarter back weighing a mere 145 pounds with arms like howitzers.
And both, besides being stellar athletes, were good students. After high school they both attended Ivy League Schools. Joe went to Brown and Gene went to Columbia. And both brought football glory to their respective schools.
That’s what I like to remember about those guys….and I like to remember their cameradie though they were die hard opponents during the school year during the summer they often practiced together.
I remember both of them playing touch football in a vacant lot…sometimes I could even get into the game. One time I caught a game winning touchdown thrown like a rifle shot by Paterno….
That’s how I want to remember JoePa. A little guy with a rifle for an arm and a smile as wide as his face.
And that’s the Joe Paterno I will never forget. Not the defeated old man hounded by the press, crumpled and disgraced (way out of proportion to what he had done or didn’t do in the Sandusky matter). But I remember a guy who was a real hero, self effacing, humorous, bright and who would throw a bullet pass to little kids and knock them on their ass…and then he’d haul them to their feet and tell them, “nice going.” That’s the JoePa I remember—-a hero, a mench, a guy who could throw two sewers!