Funeral Held Monday For Former TSU Coach - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Funeral Held Monday For Former TSU Coach

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Courtesy: Tennessee State Athletics Courtesy: Tennessee State Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Family and friends said their final goodbye to a Tennessee State University coaching legend.

On Monday, hundreds of people filled Temple Church on Kings Lane in Bordeaux to remember Joe Gilliam, Sr.

Gilliam passed away last Wednesday at the age of 89.

Former players said they loved him as a father and strict disciplinarian.

"When I first met him I realized he didn't look at me as just a football player. He loved all of his players, which was very important to me after losing my father at such a young age," said former TSU and Dallas Cowboys player Ed "Too Tall" Jones.

His career at TSU spanned over four decades. He was an assistant to Tennessee State coach John Merritt beginning in 1963 and was defensive coordinator into the 1980s. He became head coach in 1989 and stayed for four seasons, compiling a 20-23 record.

He led the team to four undefeated seasons and seven Black College National Titles. Gilliam was honored as Coach of the Year in 1990.

Gilliam was inducted into the Tennessee State Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

He was also the father of former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam, known as "Jefferson Street Joe."

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