Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Celebrated Morris Brown Athlete Simon Hubbard is Laid to Rest
Atlanta high school and college football coach Simon Hubbard was euloigized by his peers, pastor, family and friends Saturday, January 2 at southwest Atlanta’s Zion Hill Baptist Church
Hubbard, a native of Macon Georgia, passed away December 26, just 62 days shy of what would have been his 80th birthday.
The star athlete and 1959 graduate of Macon’s historic Ballard-Hudson High school took his enormous talents as a tight end and kicker to Morris Brown College, finishing there in 1963. Hubbard also spent two years with an NFL minor league farm team, the Joliet (Illinois) Chargers of the United Football League before re-settling in Atlanta in 1965 to devote his grid skills as a coach, teacher, mentor and motivator to his college alma-mater and several local high schools in the ATL.
Moreover, he also devoted time to his family, wife Ella of 57 years, and their two children Jeffrey and Jeralynn. While an assistant coach at MBC, he helped develop future NFL players like Solomon Brannen (Kansas City Chiefs) who played in the first Super Bowl in 1967, Alfred Jenkins (former Atlanta Falcon all-pro wide receiver) defense ends Willie Blackwell and Ezra Johnson, the latter becoming the first player from the Atlanta University Center and the second from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) to be drafted in the first round by an NFL team (1977, Green Bay Packers) " He loved the game of football but he loved the players even more," said daughter Jeralynn. "He was intentional about being a husband, father, protector and provider. He led by example. He taught us the importance of going to work and earning a living." "He would sometimes tell Jera and me stories of his past at the dinner with Mom co-signing on everything he said," echoed his son Jeffrey. "They were so amazing, I would think they were tall tales. But after having the privilege of being his favorite tag-along and seeing the abundance of people he came in contact with here and there, I soon realized those tales were not tall at all."
"I've known Simon for 61 years," said Brannon, a former teammate and roommate of Hubbard at MBC. "When I arrived on campus (1960), the first upperclassmen who greeted me was Simon. If you ever got to know him, you'd realize that there was a man who'd give you the shirt off his back. When we got ready to play a game, Simon knew I would watch his back and he would watch mine. Of all the guys I played with at Morris Brown, Simon was one man who I'd go to bat for in an instant."
Hubbard was also remembered for going to bat for his players as a coach at Atlanta’s Douglass High School, which has produced its share of pro players in football and basketball to include Miami Dolphin Stanley Pritchett, Baltimore Raven Jamal Lewis and Houston Texan Akeem Dent. In 1990, Hubbard became the school's third head grid coach in its 53-year history. During a 2016 Facebook sports show called the "Crush" , he mentioned his career there. "Coaching at Douglass was one of my greatest thrills,"he said. "The team in 1990 was my first as a head coach.” He led the” Astros” to a 7-4 regular-season mark and a return to the state high school playoffs for the first time in 4 years. "The greatest thing to happen to me in coaching was having the guys come back and tell you how they appreciated the chance to play. They would tell me that if it hadn't been for football, they don't know where they would have ended up. They said they appreciated the opportunity to be a part of football culture." In 2005, while an assistant at another city prep team, Henry Grady High School, Hubbard helped head coach Ronnie MillenU lead the GreyKnights to a 13-1 season, losing only to Calhoun 42-20 in the semi-finals for the state championship. " I can't mention how much you meant to my family, coaching staff and players at Grady High School," Millen said in a Facebook message. "This is very tough to endure but I will always remember our mantra that you created which was cited after every game and practice . WE JUST STAND".
"It takes a special person to be a real coach," eulogized Dr. Aaron Parker (Morehouse), pastor of Zion Hill. "You had to be a teacher, an organizer, a motivator, leader, and sometimes a daddy. He must know how to be firm, forceful, and demanding but also when to show mercy, patience, and understanding. He was a good coach because he was a good husband and father. They all go together.
"Where is Simon Hubbard," Parker said, near shouting in the familiar fire and brimstone manner typical of the African-American clergy. " He has gone where the threat of tears is through, where the fight with heartache has passed, where the struggle with despair is done (and) the plague of hardship is over. God had redeemed him, completely restored him..He is totally done with the troubles of the world and gone home to live with God."
Note: To send flowers, plant trees , light a candle, sign the book or leave a notice, visit https://www.mbfh.com/obituary/mr-simon-hubbard
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