December 01, 2011
About 500 friends, teammates, colleagues and family came to The University of Tampa last night to honor and celebrate the life of Freddie Solomon ’75, third from left.
Proceeds from the event will go toward an endowed scholarship in Solomon’s name to honor the longtime friend and supporter of the University.
About 500 friends, teammates, colleagues and family came to The University of Tampa last night to honor and celebrate the life of UT alumnus and San Francisco 49ers football great Freddie Solomon ’75.
“These things going on tonight would not have happened without The University of Tampa giving me the opportunity to come and play,” said Solomon, commenting that he was overflowing emotionally from the love in the room.
The event was hosted by the DeBartolo family, UT and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, where Solomon works doing community outreach for another UT alum, Sheriff David Gee ’90. Sports celebrities in attendance included Tino Martinez ’11, Lou Piniella '69, Ronde Barber and Darryl Strawberry. The event included the NFL Films premiere of “The Legend of Freddie Solomon,” shown in the Falk Theatre.
“He’s the best person I know,” said Vin Hoover ’75, Spartan football teammate who captained the team with Solomon, who was a four-year standout for UT from 1971-1974. “This place has a lot of great memories from our time on the team together.”
Hoover said the two got even closer after they graduated UT and even more so after Solomon left the National Football League, running youth football leagues here in Tampa and in Hoover’s hometown in Kentucky.
Proceeds from the event, which totaled $200,000, will go toward an endowed scholarship in Solomon’s name to honor the longtime friend and supporter of the University. The scholarship is fitting, friends say, because they see Solomon as a coach and teacher.
“Giving back is what life is supposed to be about,” said Hoover. “This University is part of your family, and you have to support your family.”
During his time in the National Football League, he mentored young players like the 49ers’ Dwight Clark and Eric Wright, both who gave testimonial during the Nov. 30 event, as did Fred Dean and by videotaped greeting Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott.
Solomon graduated UT with a then-NCAA record for career rushing yards by a quarterback with 3,299. Solomon was then drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft.
He spent the majority of his time in Miami as a punt returner, prior to being traded to the San Francisco 49ers prior to the 1978 season. Solomon was converted to a wide receiver for 11 years with the Dolphins and 49ers, catching 371 passes for 5,846 yards and 48 touchdowns. Solomon also ran for 519 yards and 4 touchdowns while returning four punts and one kickoff for scores.
“I’ve always known about Freddie Solomon as a Tampa legend,” said Ryan Shuck ’04, a sport management major attending the event. “I thought coming tonight might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Solomon spends much of his time now working mentoring the area’s young people.
“He walks through this community softly, giving his all and asking nothing in return,” said Hoover.
Former 49ers owner and longtime friend Eddie DeBartolo said that is just Solomon’s make up.
“That’s why we get along so well. That’s what our job is — to try to make life easier for the student, for the little boy at the youth football camps, anyone,” said DeBartolo. “This University taught him and Vin Hoover, it taught them something about giving back.”
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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