STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Listen closely enough on College Avenue and you can still hear his voice.
At the apparel store Neebo, the student radio station 90.7 plays on a loop, and every so often he comes on, Joe Paterno, advising listeners to stay tuned to "The Lion."
His voice comes inside of a store that sells T-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Coach Paterno, Only One Thing: Thank You" and "God Bless 1926-2012." An employee said they sold so many of them after his death they couldn't keep enough in stock. It's like this all over town. Paterno effects pop up at bookstores, clothing stores, even cabs. His decisions and leadership have been scrutinized nationally, his reputation altered, but he still is revered here visibly. State College demands Paterno.
The employee, who can't share his name because of corporate policy, expects sales of Paterno items to skyrocket again in the football season unless, he foreshadows, "more comes out." Though numerous reminders illustrate a town still in love, Paterno's final legacy is not set. It hinges on the findings of remaining investigations, particularly the Freeh Report, which should come out later this summer or fall.
The report promises to focus heavily on the athletic department. The mystery of its exact content keeps Paterno's State College legacy up in the air, though a CNN report Friday night indicated Paterno could be further involved in the cover-up.
"There are things we don't know yet but all the great things he did could be negated, tarnished by what he didn't do there," said Lou Prato, former director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum. "Everybody's making guesses. It's too soon. Let the justice take its course ... then we'll find the legacy."
Paterno was fired in November because of his inaction handling Jerry Sandusky's 2001 incident in the Lasch Football Building, but he was never found liable of legal wrongdoing. In November, Pennsylvania attorney general Linda Kelly said he was cooperative in the investigation and not a target.
Sandusky's recently completed trial brought no new revelations, but CNN provided emails among Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier that indicated more Paterno involvement in their decision-making. The series of emails starts with Curley and Schultz discussing whether to confront Sandusky and send the report to the Second Mile and the Department of Welfare. Then, according to CNN, Curley writes in a later email to Spanier and Schultz that he doesn't want to talk to the Department of Welfare anymore, referring to a conversation he had with Paterno. The details of that conversation between Paterno and Curley are unknown.
Nearly nothing official has been released about the upcoming Freeh Report except for information that more than 400 people related to Penn State have been interviewed. But talk of the report has led to what former assistant coach Booker Brooks referred to as a mood of inevitability that Paterno could be concretely implicated in wrongdoing.
"I don't assume that," he said. "A lot of people do. I don't."
Incriminating information would drastically affect a town that hasn't stopped paying homage to Paterno. Neebo is only the beginning of displays showing devotion to Paterno, its affection tempered compared to others.
Lion's Pride features a painted sketch of him on the window, a life-size cardboard cutout inside and a Paternoville section. The student bookstore sells two Paterno figurines ---- one with bendable arms and legs and one without bendable arms and legs. Handy Delivery Taxi adorns its vehicles with the . image of Paterno's face and the message "Thanks for all the Memories."
That face is famously featured on the Heister Street mural, replete with a halo above. The man who painted that halo, Michael Pilato, visited Paterno about two weeks before his death.
He remembers Paterno expressing that he wished he had acted differently. He expressed sorrow for the victims and told him he believed he acted correctly in reporting to Curley and Schultz.
"He did the right thing," Pilato said. "Sadly, people higher up didn't do the right thing. That's why he'll be vindicated."
Pilato received hate mail for painting the halo, a symbol he adds for all the deceased people on his mural, not just Paterno, but, he notes, he received even more positive mail for it.
Such actions define a significant portion of the State College populace, the Paterno supporters who believe his legacy will be secure, pristine and permanent, and, if anything, bolstered by positive or neutral Paterno news from the Freeh Report. In fact, downtown's Elegant Affairs already sells the Paterno Legacy Pillow. Navy linen on top, khaki on the bottom as a nod to the man's signature pants, it features his famous quote, "Believe deep down in your heart that you are destined to do great things," and sells for $85. Since it became available last month, about 40 people have bought the pillow.
"Ninety percent of them," said store partner Renata Glon, "don't look at the price."
Saturday morning, hours after CNN's report, several people stopped at the Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium. Kids posed with their index finger up. Passersby stopped their cars and took photos outside their window. Those interviewed there said they had not heard about the new information released about the man whose statue they were admiring.
At one point, a kid accidentally stepped in front of another family taking a picture. A man joked he should stay in the photo, saying "We're all a Penn State family."
"There are things we don't know yet but all the great things he did could be negated, tarnished by what he didn't do there. Everybody's making guesses."