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Hall of Fame QB Sim Byrd dies

Hall of Fame and National Champion Troy quarterback Sim Byrd passed away Wednesday, Nov. 18; he was 75 years old.

One of Troy’s first modern day All-Americans, Byrd led the then Red Wave to the 1968 NAIA National Championship behind passing numbers that were way ahead of his time. In Troy’s semifinal and championship game victories, Byrd combined for 12 touchdowns (11 through the air), and he finished the season with 41 touchdown passes and 3,569 passing yards. As a comparison, the NCAA’s Division I leader for the year finished with 25 touchdown passes.

“We have lost a special Trojan with the passing of Sim Byrd. Although he is revered by the TROY family through his achievements on the field of play, he was much more to us than a football hero,” TROY Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. said. “Troy University never had a more passionate ambassador, or a more loyal alumnus. Sim Byrd personified the Trojan Spirit. We extend our prayers and best wishes to his wife Faith, his extended family and his close friends.”

More than 50 years have passed since his last game and Byrd’s season and career numbers have stood the test of time. His 41 touchdown passes during the magical 1968 season still rank as the most in school history – by 10 touchdowns – despite Troy’s propensity for pass-heavy offenses over the years. His yardage total for the season stood as the high-mark in the record book for more than 40 years.

“Simply devastated to share the news about my friend and everyone’s friend Sim Byrd,” said Troy Director of Athletics Brent Jones. “Trojan Nation mourns with his family. Words can’t express how important he was and is to TROY.”

The Montgomery, Ala., native ranks second all-time in Troy history with 79 career touchdown passes. He is third in total offensive yards and passing yards per game and fourth in passing yards, completions and attempts.

The first Troy player to participate in the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic, Byrd was a member of the inaugural class of the Troy University Sports Hall of Fame where he was enshrined along with his head coach Billy Atkins in 2012.

A member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Wiregrass Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame, Byrd set the then Troy single-season records for passing yards, completions and pass attempts during the national championship season and was rewarded with first team NAIA All-America honors after leading the nation in passing and punting.

In 1967, Byrd led Troy to its first-ever Alabama Collegiate Championship and a then-school record eight victories as he passed for 2,457 yards and threw 22 touchdowns.

“Sim Byrd embodied the Trojan Spirit,” Troy head coach Chip Lindsey said.  “He was a National Champion, an All-American and a Hall of Famer. Most importantly, Sim Byrd was a great man who loved his family and friends. Sim will be missed dearly by all, but his legacy will last forever.

Byrd retired in Jan. 2014 following a 38-year professional career. He served as the President of the Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) Control States at the time of his retirement.

The family will hold a private ceremony on Friday and a public Celebration of Life for Sim Byrd will be held in Troy at a later date.