The Penn State football team in 1962, under head football coach Rip Engle (1906-1983), had high expectations. (The team would finish 9-2.) Engle was quoted in the Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer on September 20, 1962, before a game against Air Force:
“Publicity is exactly like poison. It can’t hurt you until you swallow it.”
Joe Paterno (1926-2012), who followed Engle as the Penn State football coach, said in 1969, “I told them publicity is like poison — it won’t hurt you if you don’t swallow it.” Paterno often used the saying, but Engle said it first.
Wikipedia: Rip Engle
Charles A. “Rip” Engle (March 26, 1906 – March 7, 1983) was an American football player and coach of football and basketball. He served as the head football coach at Brown University from 1944 to 1949 and at Pennsylvania State University from 1950 to 1966, compiling a career college football record of 132–68–8. Engle was also the head basketball coach Western Maryland College–now known as McDaniel College–during the 1941–42 season at Brown from 1942 to 1946, tallying a career college basketball mark of 53–55. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1973.
Wikipedia: Joe Paterno
Joseph Vincent “Joe” Paterno (/p??t?rno?/; December 21, 1926 – January 22, 2012), sometimes referred to as “JoePa”, was an American college football player and coach who was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from 1966 to 2011. With 409 victories, Paterno is the winningest coach in FBS history. His career ended with his dismissal from the team as a result of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
30 September 1962, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Penn State turns back Air Force, 20-6” by Bill Wallace, sports sec., pg. 1, col. 3:
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Sept. 29.—Rip Engle, who serves a dual role as coach of the Penn State football team and sage of nearby Mt. Nittany, observed before Saturday’s game, “Publicity is exactly like poison. It can’t hurt you until you swallow it.”
9 October 1962, New Castle (PA) News, “Sports Staff Roundup,” pg, 14, col. 1:
REPEAT THAT, PLEASE: Coach Rip Engle, talking to his highly-rated Penn State football team: “Publicity is exactly like poison. It won’t hurt you unless you swallow it.”
1 October 1969, The Traveler (Cambridge City, IN), “Seffrin Says,” pg. 6, col. 7:
Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach, when asked if the highly rated Nittany Lions would be affected by the pre-season press buildup, replied: “I told them publicity is like poison — it won’t hurt you if you don’t swallow it.”
6 November 1969, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Coughlin’s Corner” by Dan Coughlin, pg. 4-E, col. 3:
There’s a sign in the Willouighby South locker room. It says: “Publicity is like poison. It won’t hurt you unless you swallow it.” The sign is decorated with a skull and crossbones.
19 December 1971, Sunday Times Advertiser (Trenton, NJ), “Joe Paterno Speaks His Mind,” New Jersey This Week magazine, pg. 6, col. 1:
“Publicity is like poison. It won’t hurt you if you don’t swallow it.”
Excerpts from “Joe Paterno: Football My Way” by Mervin D. Hyman and Gordon S. White Jr. (Macmillan, $6.95).
Google News Archive
16 June 1978, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Fusina Has Field Day” by Vince Leonard, pg. 12, col. 6:
“I’m not so sure he’s going overboard in pumping up the team, as a lot of people are saying. Joe (Paterno—ed.) has always said, ‘Publicity’s like poison; it can only hurt you if you swallow it.”
(Spoken by Chuck Fusina, Penn State quarterback.—ed.)
By lee Green
New York, NY: Ballantine Books
JOE PATERNO Perm State football coach:
“Publicity is like poison. It doesn’t hurt unless you swallow it.”
The Fifth and Far Finer Than the First Four 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said
By Robert Byrne
New York, NY: Fawcett Columbine
Publicity is like poison. It only hurts you if you swallow it.
Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father
By Jay Paterno
Chicago, IL: Triumph Books LLC
“Publicity is like poison. It’ll only hurt you if you swallow it.”
I’ve never been around a coach who cared less about what was written about him—both negatively and positively.