Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Final Rights for Celebrated Football Official
ATLANTA- On May 6, Atlanta, the State of Georgia and the rest of the nation said goodbye to celebrate football referee; John Hanson.
Hanson was known as "Blood" to his colleagues and friends. Counting myself among his legion of buddies, I often wondered how he managed that moniker. A former high school teammate and close friend told me Hanson played center for his beloved George Washington Carver High school in the late 1940s and adapted the nickname from a Green Bay Packer named John Blood, a Hall of Famer who spent 17 years in the NFL. Our "Blood" went on to letter in three sports at Carver but was moved from center to quarterback when he enrolled at Fort Valley State University on full scholarship. Despite his athletic prowess, John Blood was nobody's so called "dumb jock". At Valley, he majored in elementary education, went on in later life to obtain a masters degree in education and pioneered in the field while teaching elementary school classes in Atlanta."He was a student-athlete and I underscore student," said Rev Willie Hunter, a retired high school and college coach who was a teammate with Hanson at Carver and Fort Valley.
But education was forced to take a back seat to his avoation of officiating, where he also excelled. "He was the godfather of officials in Atlanta," said James Bing, a former official in three college conferences (ACC, SEC, SIAC) who mentored under Hanson through the Capital City officials association which Hanson helped co-found to educate and prepare black men and women to wear the striped shirt and carry the yellow flag. Those he mentored remember him as a tough taskmaster who demanded perfection and accuracy from his "students" on and off the field.
"He once told me that if you don't know, don't guess and if you didn't see it, don't call it," said current high school and college official Artie Cobb. Hanson's tough-but-fair teaching style paid off for many of his students who went on to officiate in the ACC, SEC, SIAC, MEAC, SWAC and the NFL. In fact, one of Hanson's understudies, Atlanta native Jerome Boger was referee (white hat) in the 2013 Super Bowl. It also paid off for Hanson, who officiated in the NFL in 1974 and later with the upstart World Football League. Outside of football, Hanson became a successful, sharp businessman with significant real estate holdings in Atlanta, several retail stores, at least one restaurant and further holdings in the Caribbean islands.
He was also known as a great talker. "He never heard a conversation he didn't think he could get into," quipped a close friend and business associate Calvin Blackburn. "John was a blessed man," added Lawrence Young, pastor of southwest Atlanta's Cascade United Methodist Church during his eulogy May 6th. " He also was a blessing to others. If you found yourself as blessed as he was and you knew John, you know why. John led by example." "What's the best way to honor John? Don't try to be him. Men like him come along every once in a while. Just try hard to be the best you can be."
I've had some private conversations with supporters of athletics at Selma Alabama's Concordia College who were saddened over the decision of its leadership to drop football for 2016. They are clinging to the hope that the grid program can be revived for the 2017 season. If they do, they won't have too far to look for a coach to guide them. Stan Connors, best remembered for his successes just a few years ago at Benedict College, is on staff at the school in the office of admissions. He and I talked about it and both of us agreed that Concordia is an excellent place for another college grid program in Alabama. The city of Selma is drenching with history and its location can attract huge support. I have long advocated that the city is ripe for a "classic" and a choice city to expand the SIAC to.............
Speaking of Concordia, Lane head football coach and Athletic Director Derrick Burroughs has pulled a coup with the hiring of former Concordia HC Shepherd Skanes as his team's offensive coordinator and assistant head football coach. For the last couple of seasons, Skanes coached at Morehouse College under his old friend, head coach Richard Freeman.I spoke with Freeman a few weeks ago and he tells me that Skanes wasn't his only coaching loss. Several of his assistants left during the off-season for attractive offers from other schools and his offensive coordinator Leon Murray has told him he was contemplating leaving the profession all together. " I don't think he will leave though," said Freeman who coached the former Tennessee State all American quarterback when the two were sequestered in Nashville. I agree with "Free." Leon is dedicated to football and has built himself into one of the best offensive minds in the game. I appreciate his thoughts, though. I had similar feelings many times during my 45 year career in print and broadcast journalism. But everytime I took steps to walk away, the love of the profession would reel me right back in again. I get the feeling that come the start of summer drills, ole Leon will be on that field coaching and molding boys to men.............
XTRA POINTS: SIAC commissioner Greg Moore tells INSIDE there are no plans to expand the conference despite the loss of Stillman and Paine as football playing schools. In addition to dropping its grid team, Stillman has also opted out of the conference. I'm hoping this doesn't spread to other schools in the SIAC or elsewhere although it wouldn't surprise me. The presidents of any of these colleges have to pay closer attention to the bottom line.......
www.themaynardreport.com. Eaton was encouraged to do his own thing after getting axed from another newsletter for allegedly violating journlistic ethics which he vehmently denies.News colleague Maynard Eaton, a graduate of Hampton University where he was once a baseball catcher, has launched his own newsletter of cutting edge journalism called
Open the report and read all about it.........The black college football of Fame is getting itself a permanent home in Canton Ohio, the home of the pro football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame has enshrined 29 former NFL greats from HBCUs. In the SIAC, I count seven inductees who played college football at schools that are or were in the SIAC:
Rayfield Wright-Ft Valley
Shannon Sharpe-Savannah State
Deacon Jones-South Carolina State
Marion Motley-South Carolina State
John Stallworth-Alabama A&M
Bob Hayes-Florida A&M
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