Before Thanksgiving comes tomorrow and I stuff myself with more turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin and apple pie than any single person should consume in one sitting, I wanted to be sure to extend some special thanks to you, the readers of Nittany Lions Den.
This past year has been quite a roller coaster ride for anyone associated with Penn State football, and I must admit that there were times I felt like enough was enough. Last November was a trying time for anyone who has covered or followed Penn State football, this I need not to explain at this point. Instead of breaking down the X's and O's and third down conversion strategies and the ability of a defense to hold a lead I found myself covering a subject that was so twisted and disgusting that there were days I wish I had a different team to cover.
Despite the dark days that we have all worked through, I can say today that I have never been more proud and satisfied to be covering Penn State football and I thank you, the readers for that.
Sure, some of you may be crazy in my eyes with a blinded faith that Joe Paterno could do no-wrong or a belief that Penn State would be better off in the ACC, but it is ultimately your passion that has me happy to help provide any extra commentary and coverage of your favorite team. I try to bring an unbiased approach to Penn State with my coverage over on Examiner.com, where I am wrapping up my fourth full season covering the football team and the feedback I have received over the past year has been truly heart-warming. During the roughest stretches of the off-season, from the fallout of last November to the NCAA sanctions, emails from you readers have kept me in a positive state and driven me to continue doing what I do to share what I have to offer.
Here at Nittany Lions Den we have been seeing our own community grow by the month. Our writing staff has continued to grow and share their opinions on a number of topics and have been well received by you readers. It does not matter what we share on our site, be it written commentary, photos or videos. If you are not here to check it out and share your reactions with us and your friends, we are simply nothing.
The football season may be drawing to a close, but we are not about to go anywhere. We will have some basketball coverage as well as some other sports along the way, and our football coverage will also continue through the bowl season and recruiting season leading up to the spring with spring football practices and even the NFL Draft. So we hope you continue following us. To paraphrase Bill O'Brien from his introductory press conference with his letter to the Penn State lettermen, you are why we want to be here.
As many of you know by now, I grew up rooting for Penn State and learning about the sport of college football by watching Penn State. I can only guess many of you did the same. However, unlike many of you, probably, I did not attend Penn State, so I was never really engrained in the full Penn State community in many ways. While my rooting interests have diminished since I start covering college football professionally, I feel I can say without bias there are many positives to be thankful for within Penn State's football community.
A championship-caliber athletic program with a proud academic tradition.
The dedication and leadership shown by those who chose to stay with the program following the NCAA sanctions.
Perhaps none more than Michael Mauti.
The support of former players wanting to see the best for their program, regardless of their feelings and opinions. Whether you agree with Franco Harris or not or stood behind LaVar Arrington and others in their initial reaction to the hiring of O'Brien, realize that these are members of the Penn State family who ultimately just want the best for their former school.
The young, aspiring journalists covering the team at The Daily Collegian and Onward State. We've poked fun at "Buckle Up" and seen the effects of publishing inaccurate information, but remember that those who write for each are students trying to learn what it takes to make it in a competitive, and in some aspects weakened profession. I have been there. It is not easy, and rarely rewarding. They are doing their part to make you proud to be a Penn Stater in their own way.
The 90,000 plus who have shown up week in and week out to support Penn State football. It may be far form the 110,000 sellouts, but the last time I checked 90,000 fans was still a lot of people to show up for a football game involving a team with no postseason aspirations.
Regardless of what happens this weekend against Wisconsin, Penn State fans have plenty to be thankful for this season. There could be some dark times still ahead, but Penn State football is not going anywhere. It will still be there. The meaning and importance may look different to many, but I am thankful to be able to cover it and share my experiences with you through it all.
On behalf of the entire crew here at Nittany Lions Den, I thank you all for helping to make our site what it is today and will be in the future. I also wish you all a truly happy Thanksgiving.
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