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Joe Paterno dies: Sex abuse scandal fires emotional reaction

January 22, 2012 |  9:58 am
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The death of Joe Paterno, as well as false reports of the former Penn State football coach's death, have unfolded on Twitter in the last 24 hours.

It was a tweet from his son Scott Paterno at 9:30 p.m. Saturday that spelled out plainly that previous reports that his father had died were incorrect: "CBS report is wrong - Dad is alive but in serious condition. We continue to ask for your prayers and privacy during this time."

But a trio of tweets from Scott on Sunday morning, after the former coach's death, gave a note of finality to the saga as he sent thanks to a range of people.

PHOTOS: Joseph Paterno 1926 - 2012

"My family wants to express our heartfelt thanks to the hospital staff and doctors. They were amazing and caring - Thanks isn't enough."

"We would also like to thank all of the tens of thousands of people who have been praying - your kindness continues to sustain us."

"Finally, to Penn Staters, past and present, know that Dad loves you all and has always loved being part of your family."

PHOTOS: Joe Paterno fired as Penn State football coach

Paterno's "inglorious exit" from his Penn State job, as The Times' Chris Dufresne reported Sunday, was wrapped up in allegations against his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who has been accused of sexually abusing boys. And that aspect of Paterno's career has fed the emotional response to his death, which flowed Sunday on Twitter and elsewhere.

Many called for a focus on the positive; others ignored the controversy altogether.

In a statement released Sunday, President George H.W. Bush said: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Paterno. He was an outstanding American who was respected not only on the field of play but in life generally — and he was, without a doubt, a true icon in the world of sports. I was proud that he was a friend of mine. Barbara and I send our condolences to his devoted wife Suzanne and to his wonderful family."

Dave Brandon, athletic director at the University of Michigan, said this on Twitter: "The U-M Athletic Dept expresses its condolences to the Paterno Family on Joe's passing. Very sad. May he RIP"

And Urban Meyer, the new coach at Ohio State, tweeted: "RIP Penn State Coach Joe Paterno."

ESPN's Adnan Virk: "Beano Cook just said on @espnradio "the cause may have been lung cancer but I think Joe Paterno died of a broken heart. I really do"

Amid the praise on Twitter were scattered notes of bitterness.

"Joe Paterno died? I think the appropriate response is to look the other way and pretend it didn't happen" (BlazedDonuts).


Obituary: Joe Paterno dies at 85

Joe Paterno legacy: From triumph to tragedy in days

FULL COVERAGE: Penn State, Jerry Sandusky  scandal

-- Amy Hubbard

Photo: People gathered around a statue of Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium on the Penn State University campus console each other after learning of his death Sunday. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press