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By Randy York
Penn State football fans and followers aren't the only ones that appreciate the role Nebraska played last Saturday in leading the pregame prayer for both teams and embracing the mutual respect both programs showed each other, on and off the field. Athletic department staff members from Penn State also expressed their appreciation for Nebraska's overall support. "The Nebraska folks who were here were all first-class and handled our difficult circumstances well," Matt Stolberg wrote in an email to Nebraska's Compliance Department Monday. "Please let everyone know that your institution and team were complimented over and over again in our staff meeting this morning." Stolberg is Director of Compliance at Penn State.
Richard Owen, who lives in Somers, N.Y., attended last Saturday's game in State College with his wife, a Penn State alum, and two sons. "We were fortunate to have seats three rows back from the Husker bench," Owen said. "We felt like we were on the field. My wife wore a neutral color and my sons and I wore red. I was a little nervous about the colors, having heard Tom Osborne's expression of concern, but we just couldn't see any other way to arrive at Beaver Stadium except in red.
"From the moment we got on the bus, we felt comfortable. It was a joy to see so many Nebraska fans proudly proclaiming their affiliation. Equally important, our display seemed to invite Penn State folks to approach us. Every single encounter we had was welcoming, friendly, and courteous. By the end of the day, I found myself telling people that the highest compliment I can pay the fans of Penn State is that you remind me of Nebraska fans, and we consider Nebraska fans the best in the world.
"Being in Beaver Stadium on November 12, 2011, was an unforgettable experience, especially the gathering of both teams at the center of the field for prayer," Owen said. "The 108,000 fans, both in blue and in red, behaved in an honorable and respectful way. Both teams played hard and played fair. I told my sons that they will never forget this day, just as I have never forgotten being in Memorial Stadium on November 23, 1963, the day after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I believe the 2011 NU-Penn State game deserves to be etched as deeply into our psyche as that sad day almost 50 years ago."
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Going for two to win the (1984) Orange Bowl was a defining character moment for Tom Osborne and Nebraska fans. So too will the pregame prayer at Penn State be for Coach Pelini and Coach Brown. Well done Nebraska! Randy Langemeier, Alliance, Nebraska
As a Penn State fan as well as a staff member at the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Campus, I want to let you know how much I appreciate the University of Nebraska's actions on Saturday. As I watched the Nebraska players go out onto the field to meet Penn State, I was brought to tears. Thank you so much. The University of Nebraska is a class act! And when I'm not rooting for Penn State, I definitely will be cheering for the Cornhuskers. Here's wishing the best of luck for the rest of the season and beyond. Jean Pall, Wilkes-Barr, Pennsylvania
I am a dedicated and loyal Nebraska fan, but I couldn't have been any prouder of our team than I was at Penn State, win or lose. The way the pregame prayer reflected on the victims of this tragic event was very humbling to watch as players united for a common cause. Ron Brown is a strong Christian man, with a strong devotion for doing the right thing, and yes he was the right man to lead the prayer. My heart goes out to the victims. I was very impressed with the players walking out to the center of the field, hand-in-hand to show solidarity and unification. Thanks Coach Brown and all the players and coaches, Go Big Red. Robert A. Cudaback, Wackenhut, Minnesota
I am a current student at Penn State and would like to thank all of Nebraska for that pre-game moment. At a time when the foundations of our university are being called into question, the Nebraska football team extended their hand and showed us what true sportsmanship about. I cannot begin to describe how deeply moved I was by that act. Ron Brown, I want to thank you for your message. It will stick with me. I will always root for Nebraska (except, of course, when they play Penn State) after seeing what a class act the coaching staff and players were. Good luck the rest of the season, and maybe we will see you in the Big Ten Championship. Connor Kincheloe, Mountaintop, Pennsylvania
Just want to say I appreciated your article on the Ron Brown prayer last Saturday. I'm sure some are seething about bringing God into a public forum like that and especially the added fact that sportswriters are standing behind this courageous prayer on a football field. I respect your thoughts on the matter. Sue Wilgocki, Columbus, Nebraska
Thanks to all of those connected with the University of Nebraska for all of the class and compassion that was so evident last weekend in State College. That class proves that it's more than football. It's the people and the philosophy that lead a great university. Penn State still has this and will rise above the turmoil. The University of Nebraska has and will continue to be a shining example of all that is right. Thank you, Nebraska. John Hennemuth, Waverly, Pennsylvania
Please thank Ron Brown for the prayer he offered on Saturday. It reminded me of 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Proud to have grown up in Nebraska! Skip Buchholz, Phoenix, Arizona
Just wanted to say that the prayer of Ron Brown before a packed stadium was the greatest thing I have seen in a long time! I admire his convictions and willingness to step forward and lead the players. Our country needs more men of his caliber and character!! God bless your college. Thank you. Shari Van Winkle, Middletown, Ohio
I would like to thank Nebraska's players, coaches and fans for the wonderful respect they had for the trying times we have been going through at Penn State. As a graduate (Nursing, '79) with a current student at main campus, the emotions of the past week have torn at all our hearts. I was so glad to attend the game and could not have been more proud of the way the teams came together before the game. You have a true gem in your assistant coach Ron Brown. As I heard one Penn State fan say, "Now I will have to root for Nebraska!".You should be so proud of your school. Thank you. Betsy Flanagan, Wilmington, Delaware
Thank you to everyone in the University of Nebraska community for being such a class act. Welcome to the Big Ten. You will always have friends in State College! Kevin M. Harter, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
You and the Nebraska program are a class act. Thank You for the wonderful pregame speech. You certainly gained the respect of all in attendance. Good Luck in your bowl bid. We will be rooting for the Huskers. Tom Doughton, Dallas, Pennsylvania
Who is old enough to remember back to the days when anytime you saw an SEC game on television, it always began with a prayer spoken over the public address system? Gene Finke, Beatrice, Nebraska
From a Penn State Alumni: Your words were needed, and I just wanted to thank you. You are helping Penn State more than you ever know. God did put you there at that game and needed you. Thank you. Krista Beach, Centreville, Virginia
I just read many of the blog posts and letters on the Huskers.com website and am overwhelmed by all the emotion. The letters from the Penn State people are amazing regarding the game and NU fans, which really shows the true character of what a Husker fan is all about. Winning is not everything, nor the only thing, but character always is. Before the first game of the season, I said if you are fortunate enough to be born in the great state of Nebraska, you have capital "N"'s floating in your blood forever, no matter where you go or where you live. Born a Husker - Die a Husker. GO BIG RED! After reading your site, I had to go back and remind myself of what I had posted. Born in Omaha, I forever will be a proud Husker. Tom Hamm, San Diego, California
I would lobby that the pregame midfield prayer becomes a part of the Penn State-Nebraska rivalry. Whether it's a gentleman's agreement carried out by current coaches/players or what, I can't think of a more noble cause than the way Penn State and Nebraska came together in 2011 and vowed never to allow child abuse victims to be forgotten - EVER! We are two schools that have vowed to put football into its proper perspective. What could be more meaningful and classy? Wouldn't both schools want to be known for that? You saw the national reaction! It was tremendous. People are hungry for less glitz and more substance. We, as a nation, are starving for this. Penn State is likely to go through years of messy issues before this goes away. Healing is not a one-time event. Perhaps this could be associated with a movement against child abuse as well. There are so many angles, and there would be an overwhelming response from both communities. John O'Reilly (Vice President, San Diego Huskers, 1982 UNL), Carlsbad, California