BY KEVIN ALDRIDGE
The Cincinnati Enquirer
OXFORD - Murray Peters thinks the day matched the man.
Joe Namath talks to fellow Hall of Famer Art Donovan, left, at Weeb Ewbank's funeral.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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National Football League legend Weeb Ewbank - who posted a 130-129-7 record over 20 seasons as a pro coach - was surrounded at his funeral Saturday by the things he cared about most: his family, his friends and the world of football.
in 1973 Several former players, assistant coaches and colleagues of Mr. Ewbank came to pay their final respects to the coaching legend. Among those in attendance were Hall of Famers Joe Namath, Raymond Berry and Art Donovan, former NFL coaches Chuck Knox and Buddy Ryan and former New York Jets tackle Winston Hill.
Mr. Ewbank, 91, died Tuesday at his home in Oxford. The Hall of Famer had been hospitalized briefly a year ago for a heart problem.
"This is a loss that can never be replaced," said Mr. Peters, a longtime friend. "I never knew of anyone that had a bad word to say about Weeb. He was a kind and very loving gentleman, and we'll all miss him greatly."
More than 150 people attended the service at Oxford Presbyterian Church - in the town where Mr. Ewbank's football career blossomed 70 years ago and where he returned after retiring from the NFL in 1973.
John Capps takes a rose from the casket of his great-grandfather.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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"You can't real quickly sum up in words exactly what Weeb Ewbank meant to people," said Mr. Namath, star quarterback for the New York Jets under Mr. Ewbank. "He meant a great deal to me. When I look back to when I was 21 and 22 and I thought I knew a lot when I really didn't, Weeb was like a father figure to me."
Mr. Ewbank's flag-covered casket, adorned with flowers and a Miami University football helmet, sat on the stage in the chapel as a parade of mourners came forth to share personal tributes.
"He was a man with simple tastes who stayed true to his roots," said his granddaughter, Cinda Carron. "He was loving, tender and forever a teacher."
"I would never have had a career in professional football if not for Weeb," Mr. Berry said. "I was very fortunate to have played for him. He was quite a character."
"Weeb led by example. Weeb led by being accountable," said Mr. Hill, who played under Mr. Ewbank with the Jets. "We are going to miss him, and all our lives will be at a loss."
Wilbur Charles Ewbank, a native of Richmond, Ind., was a sports star at Miami University in the 1920s. He began his coaching career at Van Wert (Ohio) High School in 1928.
Mr. Ewbank coached the Colts from 1954-1962 and the Jets from 1963-1973. He was the only coach to win titles in the AFL and NFL, earning championships in two of pro football's most memorable games - the 1969 Super Bowl with the Namath-led Jets, and the 1958 NFL title with quarterback Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts.
Mr. Ewbank is survived by his wife, Lucy Ewbank, and three daughters, LouAnn Spenceley of Oxford, Nancy Winner of Fort Myers, Fla., and Jan Hudson of Annapolis, Md.; eight grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.