“We were playing in Livermore; we needed this game to make the playoffs,” recalled Camitz at the Jeremy Newberry Day celebration in Antioch Saturday. “Jeremy had a broken arm that night that was casted. We wrapped the cast up, and he was cleared to play. Jeremy scored two touchdowns and totally dominated the game on defense. Which led us to a victory and also making the playoffs. I remember going down Vasco Road and telling my wife, ‘This kid is destined for the NFL.’”
Former Antioch High Coach Mike Paul told a similar story. “The city of Antioch is noted for hard-nosed, tough, physical players,” he said. “Jeremy Newberry is absolutely the epitome of that. It’s going to be a common theme about his mental and physical toughness. He never came off the football field – he was on the punt team, the kickoff team – it didn’t matter. If we were on the field, Jeremy was there. One game Jeremy had a broken hand. You could not play with a hard cast; it had to be a soft cast. So we go on the field and the kick-off was probably one of the first plays that Jeremy’s ever missed in a long time.
“We got ready to run the offense and on comes Jeremy. What the heck’s going on here? Well, unbeknownst to me, his father Dave had him behind the bench cutting off that cast, and they wrapped it and put a soft cast on it. And when that first play came, Jeremy was on the field. That’s the kind of guy that he was and is today. He’s been a good friend of mine since he graduated from high school. I have the highest respect for him. He’s a great football player but a good person. He’s always been family first. Guys who went to high school with him are still his friends. He never forgets where he came from with all of the success he’s had.”
That theme was picked up by Oakland Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable, who, as assistant line coach at UC Berkeley, coached Newberry during his college career and then again at the end of his career when he played for the Raiders in 2008. “He’s the best I ever coached,” said Cable. “I have been blessed to coach a lot of really, really good players, but he’s always been the best. It’s always been about loyalty with this man. It’s never been about what it looked like or what people think or that sort of thing. I felt like I was very blessed in 2008 for him to come to Oakland and be a Raider for a year.
“No matter what, wherever I coached, he and I would talk on the phone and it would always be about you, home, Antioch, high school football. Just the loyalty that you all have shown to him it’s always been about you. This is Jeremy’s Day and Antioch’s day to honor Jeremy. But he’s always honored you. He’s dear to me, he’s like a son to me. He’s always honored where he came from, and that’s huge to me.”
Several of Newberry’s former teammates and opponents, including Ray Brown, Ben Lynch, Ron Stone and Adrian Ross, also praised him and he received several proclamations and the key to the city from Antioch Mayor Jim Davis. Then Newberry thanked his family, former coaches, San Francisco 49ers teammates, the event organizers and the several hundred people who had turned out on a blustery afternoon at the Antioch Historical Society Museum to honor him.
“It’s a pleasure playing with every one of these guys,” he said. “Without them I wouldn’t be the player that I am. If you look at the size of those two men down at the end of the row, those double teams made it real easy when I’ve got guards like that on either side of me. I don’t know if it was a coincidence that I made both of my Pro Bowls when they were playing on each side of me. I don’t think so. It was a definite pleasure. Without them I definitely wouldn’t be where I was. I thank this community for standing behind me through the good and some of the rough times. It’s an honor to have every one of you out here. I do appreciate all the support and love you guys have given me.”
Newberry played 11 NFL seasons, most of them for the 49ers, making it to the Pro Bowl in 2001 and 2002. He retired last year, lives in Brentwood, is going back to school to get his degree and will be an assistant offensive line coach for the Bears.