Former Musketeer, Falcon John Small Sr. dies

Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 7:59 PM
Last updated 8:53 PM
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John Small Sr., a former Aca­demy of Richmond County football star and first-round draft pick for the Atlanta Falcons in 1970, died Monday at University Hospital. He was 66.

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Small   a former Aca­demy of Richmond County football star and first-round draft pick for the Atlanta Falcons in 1970, died Monday at University Hospital. He was 66.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
Small a former Aca­demy of Richmond County football star and first-round draft pick for the Atlanta Falcons in 1970, died Monday at University Hospital. He was 66.

Small, the 12th overall pick in the draft, played three seasons with the Falcons and two with the Detroit Lions, but it was his work off the field that he was most proud of, according to a profile by The Augusta Chronicle in 2003.

He and his wife, Lucia, raised a family of four, but Small found time to speak at schools and hospitals. He started a ministry program to help troubled youth and founded JKS Team Inc., a company that uses faith-based principles to serve others. He was passionate about getting community leaders to work together to help youths.

“They can help a kid find his way in life,” he said in the 2003 article.

He hoped to get the CSRA Sports Hall of Fame & Museum running to reach out to students and give them opportunities.

“The best athletes aren’t going to college,” he said. “They’re not passing the tests. My mission is to get resources so they can make better grades. I want to sell them on their dreams.”

Small moved to Augusta in the early ’60s when his father was stationed at Fort Gordon. Already a decent baseball player, Small played organized football for the first time at Langford Junior High,

At Richmond Academy, Small was No. 22 until his friend and teammate, Billy Leister, was killed in an accident. Small then switched his number to 66.

Small was courted by many big schools, including the University of Geor­gia. He opted for The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, S.C..

“I didn’t want to sell my flesh to any school,” Small said. “The Citadel offered me four years of academics.”

He graduated with a degree in physical education and became a consensus All-American. The Cita­del retired his jersey in 2003.

Citadel athletics director Les Robinson told The Chronicle in 2003 that Small made his mark on the field and off.

“John brought as much recognition to The Citadel as any athlete did in history during his athletic career as a Bulldog,” Robinson said. “John was a great leader not only on the football field but in the barracks as a member of the Corps of Cadets.”

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cm51
145
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cm51 12/10/12 - 09:38 pm
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"Small" in name, but "Large" in accomplishments

They don't come any better than John Small !!!.............nothing else can be said...................

F4therTime
4656
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F4therTime 12/10/12 - 10:14 pm
3
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I remember....
Unpublished

Going to see him at Southgate when he was playing for the Falcons. Back when Southgate was the happening place!

scorehouse
196
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scorehouse 12/10/12 - 11:41 pm
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i remember..
Unpublished

small and leister. great pair of defensive tackles. leister was tragically killed while driving a motorcycle near the Oliver General hospital. he drove thru an entrance/exit that had been roped off with a chain and got clotheslined by the chain. it occured at dusk with the chain invisible. terrible and tragic. i thought they had a memorial to him at ARC stadium?RIP gentleman.

jack_wahl
9
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jack_wahl 12/11/12 - 01:44 am
5
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John Small

John Small was also the visionary of the The First Step Ministry of Augusta. Located at 755 Reynolds Street, The Cotton Exchange Building, now a bank, was known as a "coffeehouse ministry" it offered live Christian entertainment, films, fellowship, and outreach to young people of the Augusta area. I am grateful to call John Small my mentor and my friend. May God Bless and Keep Mrs Small his wife and his four beautiful children.

justputtin
1454
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justputtin 12/11/12 - 07:35 am
4
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Big man

I spent about 5 or 6 hours of my life in one on one conversations with John Small, mostly listening. He talked a little football and a lot about kids, his camp, his ministry. He influenced me in a very positive way. I hope his programs live on.

augustadog
93
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augustadog 12/11/12 - 08:56 am
3
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John was a great person by

John was a great person by all accounts. I met him years ago while he was with the Falcons. It was fun seeing a fellow augustan in the pro's.
Rest in Peace.

justthefacts
22988
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justthefacts 12/11/12 - 09:23 am
2
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Big John

RIP.

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 12/11/12 - 09:37 am
2
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A great player for the

A great player for the Citadel. He had a neck injury in his early NFL days.

Jake
33023
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Jake 12/11/12 - 11:07 am
2
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Great player

I watched him play for ARC while warming the bench as a B-team player for Aquinas in the 60's. He was a very strong and feared player. The article mentions Bill Leister who was also a very formidable lineman for ARC. His motorcycle accident was very shocking and freakish in nature and was witnessed by some of my friends from Aquinas. They were both two fine players for ARC which had a lot of talented young men back then.

CoastalDawg
125
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CoastalDawg 12/11/12 - 12:01 pm
2
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BIG John Small

I knew John from a young age; he and his siblings attended church with me, including his being in a Sunday School class which I taught. It was my preference for him to have played football @ UGA but he chose the Citadel, an "assignment" that worked well for him. In the years after he had made his way through the NFL I saw him on a televised Christian crusade, Billy Graham if I recall correctly. A personal note: John bought a pair of shorts which he had to buy too large in the waist in order to have his thighs fit into the legs - the waist had to be altered to fit his smaller waist at that point in time. I know that he's resting easy in his place of reward. I'm grateful to have had a very small part in his life many years ago. God bless his family.

GiantsAllDay
9953
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GiantsAllDay 12/11/12 - 01:27 pm
1
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AC

So what was the cause of death?

notsurprised
88
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notsurprised 12/11/12 - 02:03 pm
3
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my high school football coach

A great man he was truly was. He was very tough to play for at times but he taught his players a great deal! Not only about the game, but about life. Things like hard work, dedication, integrity, team work, mental and physical toughness etc. Things i have carried with me my entire life. Rest in peace coach.

GiantsAllDay
9953
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GiantsAllDay 12/11/12 - 03:45 pm
1
1
Did the AC delete my

Did the AC delete my comment????

Sean Moores
762
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Sean Moores 12/11/12 - 03:57 pm
2
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Check your email

Yes. Check your email.

itsanotherday1
45610
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itsanotherday1 12/11/12 - 08:47 pm
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Very few details anywhere.

I suppose the family wanted privacy on the circumstances. I had not heard of him being ill but could swear I saw an internet blurb about him using a wheelchair. That would be pure speculation because it was something I glanced at while changing pages.

RIP Big Man. Your were a hero and inspiration to many.

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