Craig “Sky” Hertwig’s legacy continues in Athens

Lawyers in Athens GACraig “Sky” Hertwig. The former larger than life Georgia All-American offensive lineman stood at 6-foot-8 and more than 250 pounds after a short career in the NFL.

After his playing career, he was a major presence around Athens and at the bars he opened in town, including Nowhere Bar which he opened in 1994, as reported in the Athens Banner Herald.

Sky’s death in 2012 due to heart failure left a huge void in the community.

Read more: Lawyers in Athens GA

“He had a kind of bigger than life aura about him,” said former Georgia football player and employee of Sky’s Bob Kelly.

Sky never intended to be a football player as he was set on playing basketball for the Bulldogs, but Georgia football coach Vince Dooley made sure he stuck with football as an offensive lineman.

By his senior season in 1974, Sky developed into an AP All-American lineman. Drafted in the fourth round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, Sky played in the NFL just until 1978.

After his return to Athens from the NFL, Sky became friends with the band Widespread Panic due to their former office being next door to Nowhere Bar, but the group’s percussionist, Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz, said he didn’t know about Sky’s football career for several years.

Sky didn’t want the notoriety that came with being a former Georgia and NFL football player and just desired to be treated like anyone else.

“He was just a guy,” said Xander Hannon, former owner of Georgia Bar. “He hung out downtown. He happened to be big, played football at Georgia.”

He had a dry sense of humor that helped make him approachable to any customers he came across. Nowhere Bar general manager George Massey said Sky didn’t like you unless he could “talk crap” with you.

Jamshad “Jaamy” Zarnegar, co-owner of Last Resort Grill since 1999, said Nowhere Bar was a constant hangout spot after work for owners in downtown Athens.

Seeing his management friends after work wasn’t enough for Sky. He was known for making his rounds around the downtown area, visiting with local business owners often.

“If it was up to me, I would draw his picture on the back of Morton Theatre and do the old World War II where you’re pointing at someone saying, ‘Sky needs you in downtown Athens,’” Zarnegar said. “I think something like that would be awesome in his honor and memory.”

Buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery, Sky is remembered for his exploits on the gridiron and as an icon of downtown Athens that enjoyed being around people and interacting with everyone he met.