Legendary University of Delaware football coach Tubby Raymond was remembered at memorial service Friday.
About a thousand people showed up at UD’s Bob Carpenter Center to reflect on his life and legacy with the Raymond family.
"My Dad was my father, he’s your father. My dad was my coach, he’s your coach. My dad was my family’s hero. He loved this place. And he loved each and every one of you .He is here today and he’ll always be. And I can promise you’re the Raymonds will always be here," said Tubby's son David to close out the nearly 90 minute event.
That sense of family was evident from the dozens of former players that returned to remember their coach, who died last month at the age of 92. That group included former UD quarterback and one-time NFL MVP Rich Gannon, who was among the speakers Friday.
"The loyalty – 36 seasons at Delaware – is incredible. And the passion and the energy and the commitment that he had to this University , this community and to this state was really second to none," said Gannon.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a UD alum who played freshman football under Raymond, agreed, saying his impact went well beyond 36 years in the sideline and his 300 wins
"Ralph Waldo Emerson once said an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man. And Tubby Raymond cast a very long shadow," said Biden. "Coach Raymond instilled in me, even when I wasn’t playing for him, a sense of discipline, how to live a life of purpose and meaning with honor and integrity."
Former quarterback Bill Vergantino, a four-year starter in the early 1990’s and UD Athletics Hall of Famer, says Raymond built a tradition over his 36 years and 300 wins as head coach that’s not likely to be seen again.
"He made an intentional commitment to make that happen. He appreciated how he was perceived by the state and perceived by the university and I think he understood the impact he had on people, not just on the field and their lives after school – but in the stands. He got it," said Vergantino. "And he goes, you know what, I could go elsewhere and do other things, but I think he understood what he was accomplishing and with whom he was accomplishing it and he was proud of it."
Dan Reeder agrees. He played linebacker for Raymond and UD in the 1980s and his sons, Troy and Colby, now play for the program. He says there is a Blue Hen brotherhood that was forged by Raymond.
"He was the common denominator we all had. It is a bond or brotherhood," said Reeder. "We all have great stories of Tubby."
Other players recalled Raymond's influence on them; how his demeanor and emphasis on things like preparation and attention to detail have helped them continue to achieve in their lives.
"As you leave campus, or are on campus, you don't think about everything you gain from it until after," said Smyrna High School associate principal Leon Clarke, who played on Raymond's final team in 2001. "It's that [period] after when you're in a crunch situation and everybody is maybe getting flustered and you're the calmest person in the room. Where did that come from? That's Coach Raymond on the sideline."
And Gannon says that sentiment was evident across the board as players exchanged text messages in the days after Raymond died on Dec. 8.
"What was interesting about it was some of those players that were involved in those texts were players that I would think back and and say I don't know that he had what he would think was a great experience at Delaware, or even a great career. Maybe he didn't start as a senior. But these guys, I think when they stepped away and realized Tubby always put the team first," said Gannon. "He treated us all the same. It was all about team and structure and discipline and accountability. And if you look at the great coaches today, they still do that."
Gov. John Carney and former governors Jack Markell and Mike Castle also attended Friday's memorial servcie, along with Sen. Tom Carper.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback and former UD star Joe Flacco was also on hand. Flacco played at UD after Raymond retired in Feb. 2002. That fall the field at Delaware Stadium was named Tubby Raymond field in his honor.