Quarterback Joe Gilliam, once arrested for cocaine possession and also hospitalized for methadone treatment of heroin withdrawal, is being given another crack at pro football. Coach Hank Stram of the New Orleans Saints has invited Gilliam to join the club when the players report to training camp in July.
"There is no question he is a very talented player," Stram said of Gilliam. "There also is no question he has a problem. From what we understand, he is totally free of the drug problem. It's not my responsibility to judge or condemn; it's my job to get people to help us achieve our goals and ambitions. If Joe can help us, it's going to be a happy marriage."
Stram said he had checked with the Nashville district attorney's office, "where Joe had his troubles," and found that Gilliam is free of obligations there.
Without mentioning Gilliam's former team, Stram also took a shot at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"When Joe was with us the last time," Stram said, referring to last summer, "we were totally unaware what his problem was. Why? Only because people were not honest with us when we made inquiries. We certainly thought people associated with a player on their team would know the problem. It's obvious they outright lied about what the situation was. So we took Joe without knowing the problem and Joe didn't admit he had one. The encouraging thing now is that he openly admits it. Maybe he will not be able to accept the challenge that lies ahead. Time will tell. The only thing we are doing is providing him with the opportunity. The kid needs help. If he loses the opportunity to play football, a human life will be destroyed."
ORIGIN OF A SPECIES
Herb Dana died recently in Oakland, Calif. at the age of 78, leaving a legacy for all football officials. In the early 20s, the former head of Pacific Coast Conference referees designed the black-and-white vertical-striped shirt so that officials wouldn't be confused with players.
At the time, so the legend goes, Dana's stripes were ridiculed because they were reminiscent of the horizontal stripes on prison uniforms. It is now considered denigrating for prison inmates to wear identifying "zebras," but for football officials the stripes remain a solid idea.
ANY !*@?&! FOR TENNIS?
The National Endowment for the Humanities earned the "Fleece Award" last week from Senator William Proxmire (Dem., Wis.). The dubious honor was bestowed on the organization for awarding a $2,500 federal grant for a study of why people are rude on tennis courts. The federal funds were given to Arlington County, Va., which wanted to determine why some players hog the courts and why others become frustrated when they have to wait. The study involved hiring a professor of ethics and philosophy and a professor of sociology as consultants. A survey of some 300 players on their attitudes toward local tennis regulations was also mandated.
Said Proxmire, in something of a non sequitur, "By watching Ilie Nastase or Bob Hewitt throw their tantrums on national television, taxpayers could have saved the expense."
WIN, PLACE, SHOW AND TELL
For years Arlene Tabor tried to get her fifth-grade special-education students at the Cochran School in Louisville involved in their studies. She brought insects, chickens and rabbits to class, but the students, predominantly inner-city kids with learning and behavioral problems, failed to respond.
Then, Mrs. Tabor hit upon a natural for Bluegrass Country: She took the class to Churchill Downs and to several horse shows. When the school had its Career Day last year, none other than race caller Robin Burns from the local harness track showed up with an armful of coloring books published by the U.S. Trotting Association. Inspired, the students voted unanimously on the site of their next field trip: Louisville Downs.
The night the class went to the races a pacer named Mushroom Steve broke stride during a race, finished dead last and was loudly booed by the crowd. The kids were angry and rallied to Steve's defense. "They identified with him," says Mrs. Tabor. As 13-year-old Vance Butler said, "Ever since I've been in school, people have been going past me."
The next day the students decided to adopt the pacer as their mascot and formed a 4-H club, the Friends of Mushroom Steve. Mrs. Tabor knew she had a winner. She began to structure her courses around the harness horse, designing new textbooks, such as Mushroom Math and Static from Steve. She put a picture of Steve on the bulletin board and used it as a visual aid to tell the story of Lew Williams, a successful black harness driver. "For the first time," says Mrs. Tabor, "the students are learning to relate to people and voluntarily reading their textbooks." But no tip sheets. At least not yet.
ON TOP DOWN UNDER
Ask an Australian to name his favorite American and he will almost certainly not say Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali or Barbra Streisand. The more likely choice will be Manfred Moore.
Yes, Manfred Moore, a 26-year-old native of Martinez, Calif., who has been in Australia only since late February. In these few months, however, Moore has become a household word in New South Wales and Queensland. He is the first U.S. pro football player to compete in Rugby League football in Australia and he has taken the game by storm.
A 6-foot 200-pounder, Moore was a substitute running back for the Oakland Raiders in this year's Super Bowl. Moore was acquired from Tampa Bay at the end of the regular season after two years with San Francisco. Before that he played for USC and appeared in two Rose Bowls. Moore got to Australia—and the Newtown Jets—through the auspices of three Aussie coaches who have watched NFL games for several years, hoping to find a prospect who would play their game.
Moore's success could inspire other U.S. football players. He is earning about $15,000 for the 16-week season, not an American superstar salary but not bad by Aussie standards. He has fit in well with the Jets. He scored the team's first try (touchdown), his defense has astonished the fans and his mere presence has boosted Jets attendance by as much as 100% at some games.
It was not easy for Moore to adapt to Rugby League, however. It is a brutal sport. Rules prohibit helmets or padding, and blocking (known as "shepherding") is prohibited. The ballcarrier can be tackled by the entire 13-man opposing team and his teammates can do nothing to protect him—except to stand nearby for a lateral. Forward passes are forbidden. All 13 players are required to play the entire 80-minute game, although there are two substitutes in case of injury to a starter.
So far Moore has been unhurt, although he wrote in his Sydney newspaper column (his celebrity has already earned him this prize) that it would be wise to at least consider the use of some padding in the game.
League officials and coaches have not responded favorably to Moore's suggestion, but they are so impressed with his play that plans are afoot to pad rosters with more U.S. players next season.
George Brett of the Kansas City Royals acquired much of his learning and baseball skills at the same place—El Segundo (Calif.) High School. Robert Kingston was El Segundo's vice-principal in Brett's day. Kingston also has a long memory, a puckish sense of humor and a flair for the put-on.
In a recent letter to the All-Star third baseman, Kingston wrote. "Our policy is to collect outstanding debts. And since you left school owing six hours' detention time, these six hours (with interest) have multiplied into 1,472 hours."
In seeking repayment of the invented debt, Kingston gave Brett an out: "You may serve your detention during the off-season or send an autographed picture of yourself to Master Bradley Kingston. Your prompt attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated." In a postscript. Kingston added. "Have a super year, George. O.K.?"
Said Brett: "If he says I owe the hours. I owe 'em. I never could get by with anything at that school."
The picture is on its way.
Before the collegiate baseball season began, Western New Mexico University was one of the favorites for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship. Among the Mustangs' 15 returning lettermen were all eight starters and the entire pitching staff. But instead of a conference title, the Mustangs finished with a perfect season in reverse—no wins and 30 losses.
WNMU disintegrated before its first inning of play when most of the starters transferred to other schools, sat out the season waiting to transfer or simply abandoned baseball. Many of the players lacked faith in Coach Jim Walker, who is primarily WNMU's football coach and had never coached baseball on the college level before last year, when his record was 9-23. Three days before the opening game, the Mustangs' roster included two lettermen—not 15—out of a total of seven players.
Walker solved the manpower problem by transferring a handful of athletes, including a left-handed shortstop named Dave McAtee, from the gridiron to the diamond. The Mustangs then lost their opener to Texas El Paso 22-0. as McAtee committed five errors. Understandably, he too quit the team after that game.
In all, WMNU was shut out 16 times and outscored 376-46. Worst was a 27-0 loss to Northern Arizona; best was a 1-0 loss to Eastern Arizona. The team did have a few bright spots. Catcher Kevin O'Neill hit .375 and is up for all-conference; the Mustangs stole 29 bases in 34 attempts; and Ron Kantowski, who doubles as the school's sports information coordinator, hit .274.
Just before the season ended, Walker told the team, "Men, 20 years from now I hope you don't remember I was your coach because I'm sure going to forget you were my players."
Within the boundaries of Columbus, Ohio, no one is better known than Woody Hayes, the Ohio State football coach. Or is he?
When Hayes tried to borrow a book at the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library he was turned down because he didn't have his university ID card with him. In such cases, the library runs a computer check to verify an individual's eligibility to borrow books.
But when a librarian, who did not recognize Hayes, asked his name, Hayes gave Woody as his first name rather than Wayne, which is the name stored in the computer. No Woody, no book.
Library spokesman Charles R. Mason, in a statement reminiscent of one of Hayes', said, "Rules are there and they're there to be followed. You just don't want to give a book away unless the person has the proper ID. People should carry their ID cards and then they wouldn't have any problems."
THEY SAID IT
•Charley Pell, the new football coach at Clemson University: "I demand just one thing from Clemson players and that is attitude. I want them to think as positive as the 85-year-old man who married a 25-year-old woman and ordered a five bedroom house near an elementary school."
•Walter F. Mondale, Vice-President of the U.S., on why he decided not to go out for the football team at the University of Minnesota: "I was in a lot of sports in high school. But when I went to a football practice and saw the size of some of those people, I went out for the debate team. I've been openmouthed ever since."
•Eddie Einhorn, president of TVS, on televising soccer, which has no timeouts for commercials: "We have to hope that when the ball is kicked out of bounds, it gets lost under a seat for more than 15 seconds."