Redskins

Vigil planned to remember Paterno 1 year later

Vigil planned to remember Paterno 1 year later

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) From bumper stickers to signs posted by a few businesses to the occasional T-shirt, reminders of Joe Paterno sprinkle Happy Valley.

Most cues are subtle enough to make an outsider look twice. Like the decals with the outline of the bespectacled Paterno's distinctive face, or the shirt with the image of the longtime Penn State coach's trademark look of rolled-up khakis and sneakers.

A year after his death, Paterno and a reputation tarnished in the aftermath of the child sex abuse scandal involving retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky remain sensitive topics for groups of alumni, former players, staffers and community residents.

The Hall of Fame coach died of lung cancer on Jan. 22, 2012, at age 85. On Tuesday - exactly a year after his passing - community residents have organized a vigil at a downtown mural that includes a depiction of Paterno.

A family spokesman has said the Paternos would not take part, and remain in privacy.

Their supporters, though, spoke up at a recent meeting of the university's Board of Trustees.

Most critics are angered by how school leaders handled Paterno's ouster as coach and the explosive findings of the internal investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh that put part of the blame on Paterno.

Others say the school hasn't done enough to honor a 46-year career in which Paterno was known for focusing on academics and philanthropy as well as football.

``The university should lead the way and not sit in silence,'' said Ed Stine, 62, of Gaithersburg, Md., a member of the alumni watchdog group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship. He was one at least one of at least four dozen audience members who applauded or praised speakers who paid tribute to Paterno at the meeting.

The man who built Penn State's program into one of college football's marquee brands was fired in November 2011, days after Sandusky's arrest on molestation and other charges. The trustees had said Paterno was ousted in part because he had a moral obligation to pass on to police outside the university a 2002 allegation of sexual assault by Sandusky that was relayed to Paterno by a graduate assistant.

Sandusky was convicted in June on dozens of criminal counts, crimes that authorities said occurred on and off campus. In July, Freeh accused Paterno and three former school administrators of concealing allegations against Sandusky to protect the school's image.

The NCAA took unprecedented action two weeks later in levying strict sanctions including a four-year bowl ban, strict scholarship cuts and a $60 million fine on the university. College sports' governing body also vacated 111 wins under Paterno, erasing what had been his major college record of 409 career victories.

Paterno's family has vehemently denied Freeh's conclusions and has maintained the coach would not take part in a cover-up. They have said they expect to release a response to Freeh's report in the near future.

The trustees have maintained over the past year that they intend to honor Paterno at some point. When asked last week, a couple trustees cited ongoing legal issues related to the scandal.

``There's going to be a time and a place to do that, and I don't think that's right now yet,'' trustees chairman Keith Masser said last week.

University leaders continue to navigate tricky issues as they try rebuild Penn State's image. In the eyes of some national columnists and other critics outside Pennsylvania or the Penn State community, Paterno's name has been forever soiled.

A survey of alumni conducted for the school by an external public relations firm found that more than eight in 10 alumni remained positive toward Penn State, though that's down from nine in 10 in 2009. The survey also found that ``recent events'' still had a negative impact overall on the feelings of alumni, though the impact was less pronounced in December than in the last survey taken in May.

About 75 percent of respondents also said the school should publicly recognize Paterno for his decades of service to the school, down from 87 percent in May. The survey of 1,172 alumni was taken online and over the telephone, with a margin of error that was 2.86 percent.

``We still have an overwhelming majority of people who say he should be honored,'' said trustee Anthony Lubrano, who has long voiced support for Paterno and his family. He joined the board last summer with the backing of alumni critical of trustees who fired Paterno.

``It's important for us to address if we're going to heal and move forward,'' Lubrano said.

At the least, the football program that appeared to be in peril after the sanctions has regained its footing under Paterno's successor, Bill O'Brien. The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator conducted a masterful job leading Penn State to an 8-4 season and keeping most of the team together following the penalties.

``It was pretty impressive,'' said Terry Pegula, a proud Penn State donor and the owner of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. ``To be down there, in the middle of that, wasn't a good situation. Even the students were feeling bad. So Bill turned into the shining light in the whole thing. He had a lot of pressure on him and he did a heck of a job.''

Al Pacino has been signed to play Paterno in a movie about the late coach. Producer Edward R. Pressman said last week that Brian De Palma will direct ``Happy Valley,'' the tentative title of the film, based on Joe Posnanski's best-seller ``Paterno,'' which followed Paterno's final years as his career ended with the sex abuse scandal.

Since the season's end in late November, questions have been raised again about the sanctions and Freeh's report. Gov. Tom Corbett - a trustee by virtue of his elected office - has sued the NCAA in federal court to have the sanctions overturned.

Lubrano and longtime trustee Alvin Clemens, who was on the board in November 2011, drew applause when paying tribute to Paterno last week.

The tributes at the meeting were appropriate, said trustee Paul Suhey, captain of the 1979 football team and another November 2011 trustee. He hoped there would be ``a time when (the board) can honor Paterno more'' after addressing lingering problems from the scandal.

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AP freelance writers Christina Gallagher and Mike Haim contributed to this report.

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Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

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NBC Sports Washington

Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

I haven’t felt this way since my father passed last April. I’m not comparing the two, at all, but there were some similarities.

Rich Tandler had life experience. Few people accomplish what he did; total life reinvention. 

Think about that. 

After raising his two successful children and a lifetime in the restaurant business, Tandler created a blog. That blog became big enough to eventually become a full-time job, and over time, put him on television and send him all over the world. 

That’s wild. 

We get so caught up in the “startups” and “disruptors” from Silicon Valley that we missed a true internet success story in Rich Tandler. Our world has become extra cynical. The loudest snark wins, especially on the internet. 

Tandler didn’t trade in those currencies. 

He provided good, quality information. He provided insight and analysis from six decades of obsessing over a football team. 

And fans loved him for it. 

The outpouring from folks that read "Need to Know" or listened to the podcast has been incredible. I’ve been flooded with messages from people, and one overwhelming response is that while they didn’t really know Tandler, they feel like they did.

Well, I was lucky to know him pretty well. And his persona on air was the same way off air. 

Tandler helped me a in a lot of ways. I can be impulsive and have a temper, Tandler would calm me down. Whenever I had something important to say, news to break or a sharp angle of criticism, I would run it by Tandler first. Sometimes, maybe often, I would say too much, and he would reign me in. 

Tandler loved pointing out mistakes. If the universe gave honorary degrees for pointing out minor math errors in salary cap blog posts, Tandler would have a Ph.D. 

He was smart and he was sharp. Good natured but feisty. 

He could dish it out plenty in a media room full of alphas. And he literally dished it out; Tandler controlled all the plastic utensils and paper plates that every media member used at Redskins Park. When we were running low on forks, Tandler would put out some not too subtle calls to action. 

I think for a while he considered the podcast an annoyance, but somewhere along the way, we had a breakthrough. He realized its potential, and everywhere we went, listeners came up and told us how much they enjoyed it. 

That made an impact on RT. And seemingly overnight, he was all in. That’s when things really started to gain steam. Wherever I am in my career, Tandler played a huge role in it. 

But that kind of doesn’t matter now. We will keep the pod going but it will never be the same. Not better, not worse, but way, way different. Same thing with writing and TV. The show will go on, but it won't be the same. It will never be the same. 

In the hours since I learned of Tandler’s passing, I’ve done some reading. I drank a bunch. And I ended up landing on some YouTube videos. 

The one I kept going back to was Jimmy V’s famous ESPY speech. Before he died, Jimmy V implored us all to think, laugh and cry every day, and that would lead to a good, full life. 

If there was ever a dude that laughed, it was Rich Tandler. 

His belly laugh was contagious, and his wit was superior. There were the wacky Tandler’s Got Jokes, and the sly one liners about players, plays and our road antics. 

It wasn’t all laughter either. Tandler was smart as hell, and he was always thinking about new ways to present content for Redskins fans. 

Seriously, our organization employs an army of young and talented digital-first thinkers. And Tandler generated more web traffic than all of them. He constantly tried to figure out why people would read something, or the optimal time for us to drop a new podcast. 

Where I’m an idea guy, Tandler was all execution. I’m a terrible planner and constantly late. Tandler would be on time and busting my chops about our lack of schedule. It’s just how we operated. 

As for crying, Tandler didn't do it much. I did see him tear up from laughing a few times, and once because it was real windy when we were taping a segment and something got in his eye. 

I’m not much of a crier either. I’m glad that Jimmy V was, but it’s just not me. 

Thinking about Tandler though in the last 36 hours, there have been some truly hard moments. He was kind and gracious. A true gentleman. 

He never took personal shots at the team we cover, or their front office. Plenty do. He would certainly say when things were bad, and say it loudly. He was binary in a world full of context. 

He was a good dude. He was my coworker, my partner and my friend. 

And damn if it isn’t getting dusty in here all of a sudden. 

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Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

The Washington Wizards open their regular season on Thursday night against the Miami Heat. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Just one week ago, it would have seemed near impossible that Dwight Howard, the Wizards' biggest offseason acquisition, would be ready to play in the season opener, but after three solid days of practice, it can't be ruled out. The Wizards plan to evaluate him throughout the day on Thursday to determine if he can take the court in what would be his first live game action with his new team.

Howard, 32, missed the entire preseason and nearly all of their practices leading up to the opener with a strained piriformis muscle. Though reports have been encouraging from his three practices, he is not yet in game shape. Even if he can play, expect him to be limited. If he can't play, Ian Mahinmi will get the start.

Heat are banged up

Miami is not only coming off a game the night before, as they lost in their season opener to the Orlando Magic, but they are missing some key guys. Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow are out due to injuries.

That will leave Miami perilously thin at the guard and small forward position. That happens to be an area of the roster where the Wizards are especially deep, now with Austin Rivers as the backup shooting guard behind Bradley Beal and with first round pick Troy Brown Jr. behind Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr.

That said, Waiters and Ellington being out means Dwyane Wade may get more run and, as we saw in the preseason, he is still very hard to stop. He is capable of a big night, especially given it's so early in the year and he doesn't yet have the wear-and-tear of a long season.

Can Beal reach the next level?

One of the most important indicators of how much better the Wizards will be this season is the continued improvement of their young players. John Wall, Porter and Oubre are included in that and particularly Oubre, who is entering an important season in the final year of his contract.

But the guy who improved more than anyone last year and has a chance to take another big leap this season is Beal. Now with one All-Star nod under his belt, what does he have for an encore? 

If Beal can get his scoring average up even higher from the 22.6 he put up last season, he could enter the All-NBA conversation. And he now has more help than ever with Rivers behind him. Beal should, in theory, be more fresh each night with Rivers taking away some of his workload. 

The Heat offer a good matchup defensively for Beal with Josh Richardson. He is one of the more underrated players in basketball and is a menace on the perimeter.

"I've been a fan of his since I played him in college at Tennessee," Beal said. "He's always been a pest. He's super athletic, sneaky athletic. And I feel like he developed his shot to where you have to respect it. If you go under [on screens], he's shooting it."

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