When sports columnist Jesse Outlar thought a coach could do a better job, he'd say so.
But his commentary was never mean-spirited, spiteful or one-sided. And despite being a University of Georgia alum, he never let a certain coach off easy.
"I knew his intentions were in the right place and were done to be more constructive than anything," former UGA football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley said. "He was a supporter and also a balanced writer, and I understood his position as a writer to report things."
Raised in the small Tift County town of Omega, Mr. Outlar grew up to become an award-winning writer for The Atlanta Constitution. He served as sports editor and sports columnist for 30 of his 41 years at the paper. He retired in 1988.
"He relished his job," said daughter Jan Edwards of Fresno, Calif. "His colleagues have told me he was a very fair reporter. He was basically a humble, small-town guy who loved the bright lights and glamour."
Jesse Lamar Outlar died Saturday of a suspected heart attack at his home in Peachtree City. He was 87. Visitation will be held 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday at Mowell Funeral Home in Peachtree City. Interment will follow at Westminster Memorial Gardens in Peachtree City.
During his career Mr. Outlar covered high school, college and professional football, baseball and basketball as well as major events like the World Series and Super Bowl.
Three times he was named Georgia sportswriter of the year and five times Georgia sports columnist of the year. The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame inductee was one of the first recipients of the Dan Magill Award for his contributions, according to Gene Asher's "Legends: Georgians Who Lived Impossible Dreams."
He wrote two books, "Between the Hedges: A Story of Georgia Football" and "Caught Short."
In 1973, after an Atlanta Falcons game, he was shot in the stomach by a teen who tried to steal his leather briefcase.
UGA radio personality Loran Smith said Mr. Outlar always looked forward to the Georgia-Kentucky matchup. When the game was in Lexington, Ky., it was usually on the last Saturday night of the horse-racing season.That gave the sportswriter time to wager during the day, then cover the game.
"He had some clever insights as a writer," Mr. Smith said, "and a great knowledge of sports."
In Mr. Asher's book, Mr. Outlar summed up his career by saying: "I had the world's greatest job. I got paid to watch and write about ball games."
Survivors also include a son, Barry Outlar of Lilburn; a stepdaughter, Cindy Calhoun of Gainesville; stepsons Jim Hutson of McDonough, David Hutson of Dawsonville and Bill Hutson of Atlanta; 11 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.