Spencer High School holds ceremony to honor Otis Sistrunk

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 5:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - “On behalf of the 206,922 citizens of Columbus, Georgia, we are so proud of you,” says Isaiah Hughley, Columbus City Manager, about Otis Sistrunk.

Friends, city officials, and Spencer High School alums honored former GreenWave star and Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Otis Sistrunk.

Spencer High principal and alums association decided to retire Sistrunk’s football jersey just a few weeks after his induction into the Georgia High School Hall of Fame. Sistrunk’s jersey is the second in the school’s history to retire. Former Cleveland Browns and GreenWave player Earnie Green was the school’s first.

“This jersey means more to me than money,” says Sistrunk, filled with gratitude.

During the ceremony, Sistrunk was referred to as a hero and ambassador of his community. Earlier this year, there was a street-naming ceremony for Sistrunk.

The ceremony was a full circle moment for Johnny Freeman, Columbus native and Spencer’s Principal. He grew up around the corner from the high school.

“Every Monday night, we would gather by the TV and watch Otis play. By him being from Columbus, we were so proud of him,” says Freeman.

Sistrunk graduated class of ‘64 and wore the number 37. He played his entire professional football career with the Oakland Raiders, from 1972 to 1978.

As a proud and humble Columbus native, he always paid homage to home during his rookie year in the NFL.

“John Madden said, ‘Where are you from?’ I said Spencer High School in Columbus, GA, and he said, ‘What the Hell is that?” says Sistrunk.

Sistrunk contributes to the small number of NFL players who did not play college football. However, he urges youth always to have a backup plan.

“I try to tell kids, one thing about it is, staying in school and get your education, so if you don’t make it in the NFL or the NBA, or track or whatever, you can have a job to fall back on,” says Sistrunk.

Current GreenWave defensive back Reggie Hill was honored to meet and hear from Sistrunk.

“It just feels good to be around him, and take pictures with him, and have motivational words come his mouth to me.”

The Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame will induct its inaugural class on Oct. 22 at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.