Lonnie Sadler Obituary, Vanderbilt’s first Black football captain remebered

Lonnie Sadler Obituary, Death – Lonnie Sadler, the first Black captain and one of the greatest rushers in Vanderbilt football history, passed away on Tuesday night after being injured in a car accident in November. He was 67. After a stellar high school career at Madison, Sadler started every game as a sophomore for Vanderbilt.

At the start of his senior year in 1975, Sadler was elected by his teammates to become Vanderbilt’s first Black captain. A nose guard named Tom Galbierz was selected as a co-captain. There is no color on our football team, Sadler proclaimed upon learning he had been selected as the team captain before to the 1975 season. “Black is not real. One white. I’ve never seen anything but love amongst people.”

In 1974, Sadler helped Vanderbilt achieve a 7-3-2 record and make it to the Peach Bowl. The Commodores finished 7-4 in Sadler’s last season as head coach. The top runner for Vanderbilt at the time, Jamie O’Rourke, finished his career with 2,096 yards, 66 yards fewer than Sadler (1971-74). Sadler is now ranked ninth all-time in running with the Commodores. Sadler excelled at Madison and was a standout high school performer.

In 2018, The Tennessean placed him among the best 50 high school football players of all time. He is a part of the Metro Nashville Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame. During his career at Madison, Sadler rushed the ball for over 3,000 yards while making his defensive back debut.

His junior and senior years saw him recognized to the All-Nashville Interscholastic League first team, and as a senior, he was selected for the Associated Press All-State team. He was selected for the NIL All-Eastern Division team as a sophomore. Sadler was chosen to play in the TSSAA East-West All-Star Game during his senior season at the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium. Sadler was a standout in basketball and track & field at Madison.