Former Penn State football player from Canton reflects on loss of Joe Paterno

NORTH CANTON, Ohio - Former Penn State University football player and North Canton father of three, Derek Fox, reflected Monday on his friend and mentor Joe Paterno.

"I can't remember the last thing he taught me about football. It was all about life," Fox said. "I mean, I feel like he almost taught me how to tie my shoes, you know. Everything from how to shake a man's hand firmly, to get up and shave in the morning, be on time to your meetings, how to work with your co-workers, how to be accountable."

The former GlenOak High School football standout played at Penn State from 1996 to 1999. The four-year lettermen and three-year starter told ONN's Cristin Severance that he owes a lot to Paterno.

"He inherits us at such a impressionable age. You are 18-years-old. You are going in as a freshman, and you're cocky and arrogant and think you are on top of the world. He basically says, 'Whoa, this is how we are going to do it here.'"

Fox had the chance to say goodbye to a man that meant so much to him. Three days after the legendary coach was fired, Fox was in Happy Valley to attend Nebraska game.
He said he was compelled to drive to his former coach's home where he spent the evening visiting with Joe and Sue Paterno.

"It was a good opportunity to have some closure because I got an opportunity to thank him for everything he did for me and my family, and lot of hugs, lot of tears. It was certainly special for him and it was even more special for me," Fox said.

While it was complications from lung cancer that claimed the life of the 85-year-old, Fox can't help but think the child sex abuse scandal surrounding former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and Paterno's later firing had something to do with it.

"It's just one thing led to another. In the end, it was a domino effect, and I think he had a broken heart," he said.
Fox had one more interaction with the Paterno family. They were planning an 85th surprise party for Joe Paterno for just the Penn State football family on Dec. 21. The party was canceled because of Paterno's health. Each of the players wrote cards and notes to their former coach.

Fox sent a speech given by President Roosevelt in World War I called "The Man in the Arena." He then received a note on Saturday from Joe and Sue Paterno thanking him for those words.

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