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Vigil caps low-key day remembering Joe Paterno

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Vigil caps low-key day remembering Joe Paterno

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Hundreds of candles created a dull glow at the base of the mural that contained a likeness of Joe Paterno, each flame flickering to commemorate the year since the death of Penn State's Hall of Fame coach.

Time hasn't erased the pain of supporters who feel Paterno's reputation has been unfairly sullied in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Paterno died of lung cancer Jan. 22, 2012, at age 85. At least 150 supporters attended the candlelight vigil Tuesday, the anniversary of his death, braving frigid conditions to pay tribute at the downtown mural just more than a block away from the Penn State campus.

``I definitely think that everything that has happened isn't at all indicative of the kind of man that he was,'' said Bridget Beromedi, 32, of State College, who wore a shirt with Paterno's image. She held up a sign that read ``JoePa. Legends never die.''

She added that Paterno's role in the scandal ``got totally overblown because of his name. He got an unfair deal.''

He died more than two months after being fired in the frantic days following the arrest of former assistant coach Sandusky in November 2011.

Organizers lit candles inside white or blue paper bags, many inscribed with handwritten messages from supporters. The gathering slowly broke up within 45 minutes after mural artist Michael Pilato thanked attendees, several of whom wore ``JVP'' buttons on their winter parkas.

Paterno's legacy remains a sensitive topic for groups of alumni, former players and residents. Some attendees, including Pilato, also said Paterno's role was sensationalized by media coverage and a rush to judgment.

A year ago, the campus was flooded with mourners. Commemorations were much smaller this year with temperatures in the teens and dropping.

A family spokesman said the Paternos didn't plan on attending public gatherings.

Earlier in the day, a makeshift sign on cardboard flapped in a cold wind at the spot where a bronze statue of Paterno used to stand.

``Joseph Paterno. Always remembered. Always a legend,'' read the sign attached to a tree with white wire. The statue remains safely stored in an undisclosed location, a university spokeswoman said.

Flowers and mementos were left by supporters at Paterno's gravesite. Supporters like Dan Hamm, a freshman from Williamsport, have said Paterno's 46-year career as a whole should be taken into consideration, including his focus on academics.

``We wanted to pay our respects. We wanted to celebrate who he was as a person,'' Hamm said after visiting Paterno's grave at a State College cemetery.

Then, nodding his head toward Paterno's adorned gravesite, Hamm said, ``You can see here that Joe Paterno was Penn State, and Penn State will always be Joe Paterno.''

Former FBI director Louis Freeh released findings July 12 in the school's internal investigation of the scandal. Freeh accused the coach and three former school administrators of covering up allegations against Sandusky.

The retired defensive coordinator has been sentenced to at least 30 years in prison after being convicted of 45 criminal counts. Prosecutors said the sexual abuse occurred off and on campus, including at the football facility. Sandusky has denied the allegations.

On July 22, Penn State removed Paterno's statue, which was a gathering point for mourners last January. The next day, the NCAA reacted with uncharacteristic swiftness in levying strict sanctions including a four-year bowl ban, strict scholarship cuts and a $60 million fine.

Paterno was also stripped of 111 victories, meaning he no longer held the major college record of 409 career wins.

Penn State is still coping with the massive fallout from the scandal. On Tuesday, a young man who testified that Sandusky tickled and grabbed him in a campus shower sued the retired assistant coach, his charity and the university.

But Paterno's family and the three administrators have vehemently denied Freeh's allegations as well as suspicions they took part in a cover-up. Paterno's family has been planning what a spokesman has called a comprehensive response to Freeh's findings.

But on Tuesday, the family remained in private.

After visiting Paterno's grave with his friend Hamm, Nick Bucci said he felt his school handled the scandal well overall, given the extent of the fallout, with some exceptions.

Bucci said the school should honor Paterno someday - but not without more perspective.

``A day like today, those emotions might be high,'' said Bucci, of Dayton, Md. ``I don't think now is the time to do it. I think you have to wait.''

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With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

Ravens guard Marshal Yanda has a decision to make on his playing future, but he's in no rush to make it.

The 35-year-old is under contract with the Ravens through the 2020 season, but will take the next month or so to decide if he wants to continue playing or hang up the cleats.

"I'm going to take my time now," Yanda told Ravens.com regarding his future. "Done playing for the year, just take some time over the next month and basically just go with my heart and see how I feel."

The eight-time Pro Bowler was a vital piece in the NFL's best rushing attack in 2019. Yanda, the leader of the offensive line, started and played in 15 games this season for Baltimore, missing the regular-season finale as the Ravens rested multiple starters with the No. 1 seed already clinched.

Following Baltimore's upset divisional playoff loss to the Titans, a visibly disappointed Yanda refused to address his future, but he was definitely thinking about it then.

But if Sunday's Pro Bowl was the last time Yanda put on the pads, he didn't treat the game or experience any differently.

"Not necessarily," Yanda said if he cherished Sunday's Pro Bowl differently. "You're not in that frame of mind. I definitely didn't think about [my retirement decision] too much today, just because it was the Pro Bowl. It's more of a relaxed game, not like a really intense game.

"I didn't have those feelings as much as the Tennessee game," he continued." Yeah, it's a possibility. But those feelings were more in the Tennessee game."

Even at age 35, Yanda remains one of the best guards in the game. He's made the NFL's second-team All-Pro squad the past two seasons and has been a Pro Bowler every season since 2011, minus the 2017 season where he played just two games due to a season-ending ankle injury.

There's no debate: Baltimore would greatly benefit from Yanda returning.

"You want people that want you back," Yanda said. "You want to be playing very well when you end. Nobody wants to fade out; you want to go out strong."

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Jalen Smith taunts Indiana crowd after a crazy come-from-behind Maryland win

Jalen Smith taunts Indiana crowd after a crazy come-from-behind Maryland win

Sunday's game against Indiana was the best of Jalen Smith's collegiate career. 

The 6-10 forward had just set another career-high. Pouring on 29 points and sinking the game-winning layup to vault the Maryland Terrapins over Indiana, he was on top of the world. What he did next is what many will remember the most from Smith's performance that afternoon. 

'Stix,' as many in the Terrapins community call him, was clearly overcome with emotion. Once the postgame interviews were completed, he walked toward a large contingent of Hoosier fans and began chirping back at a raucous crowd.

He is seen mouthing the words "this is my court," before bending down and tapping Indiana's logo.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon saw Smith's taunting and quickly stepped in to diffuse the situation. Immediately he shut down Smith and expressed his displeasure to the sophomore. 

Smith was then escorted off the court by two Maryland assistants. 

Normally Smith is the calm, cool and easy-going player on a roster full of characters. Postgame he is extremely forthcoming with the media and stays to answer every question asked of him. When he's around there is an infectious smile that he proudly boasts. 

This, however, was something not seen by Smith before. Less than an hour following his antics, Smith apologized on Twitter. 

"I want to sincerely apologize to all the Indiana’s fans and players for how I acted at the end of the game. I let my emotions get the best of me and it won’t happen again. I have nothing but respect for all Indiana’s fans and players. Please forgive me and I wish you all the best," Smith said.

It appeared to be a situation where Smith lost control of his emotions after the Terps clawed back by scoring the final seven points of the game. Turgeon admitted that this was not how Smith normally acts and apologized on behalf of him. 

"It's not who he is," Turgeon explained postgame. "I apologize to Archie [Miller], the team, Indiana nation - or whatever you guys call yourself - Hoosier nation. We're sorry for the way we acted."

On Monday morning he further explained Smith's character and how abnormal his actions were during a weekly appearance on The Sports Junkies.

"Jalen Smith is one of the greatest kids I've ever coached. He's the most humble superstar you'll ever be around and he lost his mind for a minute," Turgeon told The Junkies. "That will never happen again, I can promise you that... I hope people don't judge him on that one minute. I hope they judge him on what kind of competitor he was yesterday and what a great kid he is."

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