On Monday, the most powerful man in the United States addressed (sort of) the passing of a coaching icon.
The White House said today that President Barack Obama spoke to members of Paterno’s family in a phone conversation today and offered his condolences on their loss. The statement said Obama reminisced with Paterno’s wife and son — Jay, who worked on the president’s election campaign in Pennsylvania in 2008 — regarding his first encounter with the former Penn State head coach.
Here’s the statement from the White House’s Office of the Press Secretary:
“Earlier today, President Obama spoke with the late Joe Paterno’s wife, Sue, and son, Jay, to offer his condolences for their family’s loss. During their conversation, the President recalled fond memories of when he first met Coach Paterno and said that he and Michelle would keep the Paterno family in their prayers during this difficult time.”
President Obama first met Paterno when he was on the State College campus to give a speech early last February.
“I met this guy — I hadn’t heard of him before — but apparently he coaches your football team,” Obama said in the speech. “Joe Paterno is in the house. …
“Now, Penn State is a place that knows a little bit about playing to win. Last I counted, Coach Paterno has got more than 400 wins under his belt. ”
Paterno will be laid to rest in a private funeral service Wednesday. The first of two public viewings will take place Tuesday.