Greg McCrary, 61: Pro football player, high school coach, loving father



Former Atlanta Falcons tight end Greg McCrary knew the benefits of a successful football career, but he also believed in the value of a good education.

After his pro career, McCrary earned a masters’ degree in education so he could continue to teach the sport he loved. And in 2008 McCrary stopped coaching high school football so he could travel and support his two youngest children in their educational and extracurricular activities.

“He was such a family man,” said Medrith McCrary, his brother. “He wanted to do whatever he could to make sure his kids did well in and outside of school.”

Greg McCrary’s relationship with his children was something special, said James “Blood” Wilson, a longtime friend and former college roommate. After McCrary’s wife died in 2003 of injuries sustained in an automobile accident, his four children became his life.

“I’ve never seen a man love his kids the way he loved them,” Wilson said. “And Johnathon? That was his pride and joy. He couldn’t wait to see him play college ball.”

McCrary’s youngest child, Johnathon McCrary, a standout quarterback at Cedar Grove High School, enrolled early at Vanderbilt in January.

“He was ready to travel with Johnathon, and his daughter Leah, who is a singer and senior at the University of Georgia,” Medrith McCrary said of his brother. “He was so proud of all four of his kids and he was really looking forward to the next chapter in all of their lives.”

Gregory McCrary Sr. of Stone Mountain died Tuesday after experiencing a massive heart attack April 6. He was 61. A funeral is planned for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Greenforest Community Baptist Church, Decatur. Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Home, South DeKalb Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.

McCrary, who grew up in Griffin, started coaching and teaching in the 1980s. He served as an assistant coach at Rockdale County High and Forest Park High before getting his first head coaching position at Druid Hills High School. His last coaching job was as an assistant at Cedar Grove. At the time of his death, he was a physical education teacher at Harper Elementary in Clayton County.

McCrary played football at Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University, before becoming a fifth-round NFL draft pick in 1975 and catching on with the Falcons. He had the option of playing professional baseball, but his heart was deeply rooted in football, his brother said.

“Both of his sons played football,” Medrith McCrary said. “They couldn’t help it, it was naturally in them. And Greg loved talking about the game with them.”

Wilson said his old roommate “knew the game inside and out.”

“Along with his love for working with younger kids, all of that made him a great coach,” Wilson said. “I don’t really know what else to say about him, other than he left us way too soon. Way too soon.”

Additional survivors include a daughter, Monica Appling of Clayton County; a son, Gregory McCrary Jr. of Lithonia; his mother, Lillian McCrary of Griffin; sisters Gloria Robinson of Miami and Rozalyn Todd of Henry County; and brothers John McCrary Jr. of Griffin and Phil McCrary Sr. of Lithonia.


Reader Comments


Next Up in News

Black Lives Matter protesters want to send message to Clinton
Black Lives Matter protesters want to send message to Clinton
  PHILADELPHIA — After having only a small presence last week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, several...
Final results: Bradshaw wins DeKalb Commission race vs. Sutton
Final results: Bradshaw wins DeKalb Commission race vs. Sutton
10:55 p.m. update (corrected at 12:25 a.m.)The results are in for DeKalb County races:Challenger Steve Bradshaw defeated Commissioner Sharon Barnes...
Rising seas threaten to swamp U.S. military bases by 2050
Military bases along the East and Gulf Coast are at risk of losing large chunks of land as rising sea levels from man-made climate change swamp...
Bill Clinton: Hillary is ‘the best darn change-maker'
Bill Clinton: Hillary is ‘the best darn change-maker'
Former President Bill Clinton called his wife, and now the Democratic Party nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, “the best darn change-maker...
Franklin-Warner, Mack and Rooks maintain leads in Clayton runoff races
Franklin-Warner, Mack and Rooks maintain leads in Clayton runoff races
Updated - 11:07 p.m.Veteran businesswoman Felicia Franklin-Warner has been elected Clayton County’s District 3 commissioner, preliminary results from...
More Stories

You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com.

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of free premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.