Even at 84 years old, Joe Paterno is one tough football coach.
Paterno was hospitalized Sunday night after taking an accidental blindside hit from one of his players during a Penn State practice. Wide receiver Devon Smith was running a route and ran into Paterno, knocking him over. According to the university, Paterson suffered injuries to his hip and right arm, but walked away from the collision under his own power. Paterno was kept overnight at Mount Nittany Medical Center and even conducted his morning coaching meetings via speakerphone from there. While doctors are still assessing his injuries, the university said Paterno would not need surgery.
"I expect to be back at practice soon. I'm doing fine; tell everyone not to worry about me," Paterno said in a statement. "I like the effort I have seen from the squad during our first few practices, but we have a long way to go to get ready for the schedule we have."
However, ESPN's Chris Fowler wrote via his Twitter page that Paterno suffered hairline fractures to his pelvis and shoulder. A few years back, he suffered a broken leg in a sideline collision with a player from Wisconsin that relegated JoePa to the press box for the rest of the season.
If there's one saving grace during this scary situation, it's that Smith is a mere 5-foot-7 and weighs just 157 pounds. Things could have been worse had Paterno been run over by one of his bigger receivers.
Also, the injury managed to get Paterno out of Penn State's media day.
Still, it's commendable that Paterno, who has been the head coach at Penn State for 45 years, walked away from the collision and still had the strength to get on the phone to do his job Monday morning. At 84, Paterno isn't going to heal as quickly as several other coaches in the league. We don't yet know what kind of attention his injuries will need, but even if he has to be immobilized for the hip to heal, there's no doubt Paterno will find a way back to the practice field, even if a student assistant has to carry around a wireless laptop or iPad while Paterno Skypes in from the hospital or home.
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