What Football Coach Said ‘Act Like You’ve Been There Before’?

CLAIM

Penn State’s Joe Paterno said “when you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”



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RATING

TRUE

ORIGIN

In July 2017, an old, recycled quote went viral after White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci attributed the phrase “act like you’ve been there before” to former Penn State coach Joe Paterno:

“On the honor of the job. Remember Joe Paterno? What would he say? ‘Act like you’ve been there before.’ Act with honor and dignity and respect and hold the confidence of the presidency.”

The full quote is commonly rendered as a football analogy: “When you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”

Many people criticized Scaramucci for using Paterno — whose career was tarnished after a lengthy child sexual abuse scandal — as an example of honor, but others took issue with the attribution of this quote. Did Joe Paterno really say “act like you’ve been there before?” Wasn’t it Vince Lombardi? No, it was Tom Landry. Or maybe it was Paul Brown, Lou Holt, or Paul William “Bear” Bryant?  

Our research turned up a variety of credible sources that attributed this phrase to a wide range of coaches. Jack Ham, for instance, a Pittsburgh Steelers player who spent his college years playing for Paterno at Penn State, wrote in the forward to the book “An Odd Steelers Journey” that Paterno had once used the phrase:

Andy read the play and close the off tackle, making the running back bounce to the outside, and yet he was still able to make the tackle. All of that and he made it look easy. No big deal. He helped the running back get up and went back to the huddle. Business as usual. As Joe Paterno would say, “Act like you’ve been there…

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