Freddie Solomon, the former University of Tampa quarterback and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver, was remembered Monday as a great athlete. Even more, he was described as a great man.
"Freddie was a giver,'' former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo said Monday during Solomon's memorial service before a jam-packed crowd at St. Lawrence Catholic Church. "He gave and gave and gave. And he never expected anything in return.''
Solomon died on Feb. 13 after a nine-month battle with colon and liver cancer. He was 59.
Among the former 49ers in attendance were Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Dwight Clark, Guy McIntyre, Keena Turner and Keith Fahnhorst.
After his athletic career, Solomon worked in community relations for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office outreach program. He never talked about his playing days or flashed his Super Bowl rings. He simply dispensed tough love to the community's children. He once said more than 90 percent of the kids he worked with came from single-family homes.
"Around our offices, we called Freddie 'Humble Pie,' '' Sheriff David Gee said. "He was just 'Coach Solomon.' He never drew attention to himself.
"He just wanted to help people.''
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn sat with a large contingent of representatives from the Sheriff's Office. Two former Tampa mayors, Dick Greco and Bob Martinez, also attended the service.
"Freddie was the Pied Piper of Tampa,'' Monsignor Laurence Higgins said. "He fought the good fight. He finished the race.
"I simply ask the Lord to help make me just half as good as he was.''