I don’t suppose anybody will ever claim that Eddie Joyce Sr. invented football in Salem, but there are those of us who believe he took it to a level of religion, from which it has never descended. Joyce, whom I knew pretty well when I was a young sportswriter, was never a man I would have called “friend.” He wasn’t warm and fuzzy, didn’t care much for the press and could be confrontational and argumentative even when it wasn’t necessary. He could be a bully. But he was about as good a football coach as I ever knew.
He died yesterday in Mayodan, N.C., the result of complications of an automobile accident.
Joyce won one state title and finished as runnerup three times, including one game that later became part of a movie–without him or his Andrew Lewis High School team (led by his hotshot quarterback son Eddie Jr.) ever being mentioned. It was almost as if “Remember the Titans” consciously avoided Salem, Andrew Lewis High and Joyce because, well, maybe their story was actually better than the one being told in the movie.
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