The death of Joe Paterno reminds us all of how suddenly the fall from grace can occur.

Joe Paterno should have died a year ago, his reputation intact and garlands for his grave from everyone who ever worked or encountered him.

He was the beloved Joe Pa, the epitome of class and steel, who strode the college football world like a colossus.

Alas, he died a broken figure.

He was an 85-year-old legend who spent his final months in hell after his Penn State former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested for abusing young boys.

Paterno had been told of the abuse and choose essentially to ignore it.

His reasons for so doing were never fully explained.

It was a mortal black blot on a previously white as snow copybook.

What must he have thought as his lung cancer advances and his reputation retreated?

How often must he have wondered why he didn't do the right thing for the kids who were abused?

Joe Paterno still dies a legend but a deeply sullied one, whose reputation will never recover from what happened during the last year of his long life.

It is a tragedy for everyone concerned, especially the kids he never spoke up for.