The fat man pounded on the door, and young Terry Glenn dragged
himself out of bed and down the stairs. What does he want now?
Why won't he just go away? Terry opened the door, and the fat
man said, "Hey, kid. Your mother said I could come over. She
here? Why don't you let me in?" Terry was 13, but he never had
much of a chance to be a kid. He grew up fast in Columbus, Ohio.
His mother was on welfare as far back as he can remember, and
his father left when Terry was two. The bills didn't always get
paid, which explains why his house rarely had heat or
electricity. That's what he remembers most vividly about the
nights the fat man knocked on the door: the cold, the dark, the
Terry slammed the door in the fat man's face and felt his way
back upstairs and into bed. "Damn fat man, lying to me like
that," he says now, his anger still evident nine years later.
"My mother didn't invite him over. She hated him, and so did I."
The next day Donetta Glenn gave her son a couple of dollars and
sent him off to the mall with his friends. She told him to buy
something for his little sister, Dorothy. Later that night Terry
returned home to the dark duplex, but his mother was gone. He
stayed in the house for a day before packing up his sister and
going over to his aunt's place. From there his aunt called the
police and reported Donetta missing. A day later Terry was
watching TV when the phone rang, and his aunt answered. "Oh,
God, no," she said, and Terry didn't need to hear anymore. He
ran upstairs and collapsed in a corner, his sad little world
coming down on top of him.
The police called back hours later and confirmed their
suspicions: The body that had been found in an abandoned
building was indeed that of Donetta Glenn. She had been killed
on Oct. 8, 1987, beaten to death by a casual acquaintance who
had been stalking her. Terry didn't need a judge or jury to tell
him who was responsible. He knew. The damn fat man. Kenneth
Adams, now 33, was sentenced to 10 to 25 years after pleading
guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Often separated from his
sister, Terry bounced from one relative's home to another,
carrying his considerable grief and rage to each new stop.
Finally, a few months after Donetta's death, another aunt,
unable to care for Terry, dropped him off at a state children's
services agency. "That's when I knew I was all alone," Terry says.
He eventually was taken in by the parents of a friend and former
football teammate, June Henley. "I used to have a family--you
know, a real family, all together at Christmas, eating and
drinking and watching TV," says Glenn. "But it all fell apart
after my mother died. That guy didn't just kill her, he killed
my whole family."
The last time he counted, Glenn says, 10 of his close friends
and relatives had died since his mother's murder. Two of his
cousins and an uncle were shot to death, and too many people in
his world turned to drugs. "Crack came along and just destroyed
people," he says. His life has mostly been a swirl of misery and
pain, but now Glenn, a wideout with the New England Patriots, is
in the Super Bowl. Now everyone is talking about how long and
grueling the road to the Super Bowl can be. Glenn, though only a
rookie, knows that better than anyone.
"People say, 'Can you believe it, you're going to the Super
Bowl?'" says Glenn. "Hey, the whole thing is unbelievable to me.
Sometimes I can't believe I'm still alive."
As you look out past the pine trees and across the pond from the
third floor of Glenn's lavish contemporary home in Walpole,
Mass., you can't help feeling that there is something right with
this picture. He is a 22-year-old rookie with a six-year, $11.6
million contract, and it is impossible to begrudge him any of
it. The next thing that comes easily to Glenn will be the first.
He walked on to the Ohio State football team as a freshman and
cracked the starting lineup as a junior. When he was
contemplating whether to declare for the NFL draft after a
junior season in which he set school records for receiving
yardage and touchdown passes, some warned that life in the NFL
could be tough on an undersized (5'10", 184 pounds) wide
receiver. Glenn just shook his head and moved on. How tough
could it be? His upbringing left him with a cold-steel exterior
and a distrust of anything positive. "He lives with the fear
that anytime something good happens, something bad will follow,"
says his agent, Jimmy Gould. "That's why he never relishes
victory for long. He's afraid if he does he'll be blindsided by
Glenn wears a small gold hoop in each ear and sports a gold
chain with an enormous number-88 medallion that looks as if it
belongs in the Michael Irvin collection. Still, there is no
glitter beyond the gold, no gaudy air of self-importance about
This season he set the NFL record for receptions by a rookie,
with 90, but he often saved his best moves for the end of the
day, eluding reporters and autograph hounds. "Most people can't
comprehend what his life has been like," says New England owner
Bob Kraft. "To me, the most important thing in any business is
to find people who are mentally tough, and Terry is as mentally
tough as anyone I've ever met."
Kraft should know. He tossed Glenn into the fire on draft day
and hoped the kid could stand the heat. Since he bought the team
in January 1994, Kraft has longed for a big-play receiver to
complement his marquee quarterback, Drew Bledsoe. Unfortunately
for the owner and for the quarterback, the Patriots' coach, Bill
Parcells, thought wide receivers were like Tic-Tacs; you could
always pick one up at the check-out line. Parcells is
defense-minded to the core and didn't want to use his top
pick--the seventh overall selection, no less--on a player who
was smaller than the hood ornament on his Cadillac. The result
was a head-on collision of headstrong individuals, and though it
will probably cost Kraft his coach in the end, the owner
Some say Parcells, who last summer had his contract shortened by
a year so that it now expires after the Super Bowl, has never
gotten over that draft-day snub and will coach his last game for
the Patriots this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. "It
wasn't as much a slap at Bill as an endorsement of our system,"
says Kraft. "We spend $2 million a year on scouting and
research, and when it came time to pick, Terry was the
highest-rated player left on our board."
Every first-round pick faces his share of scrutiny, but Glenn
arrived under more pressure than most. Parcells's
well-publicized resistance to the selection made the spotlight
burn brighter on Glenn. "I never thought it was anything
personal," says Glenn. "Coach Parcells just wanted a defensive
guy. I can understand that. I knew I had to work hard and win
Things could not have started out much worse for Glenn. He
pulled a hamstring early in training camp and missed all the
preseason games as well as the regular-season opener. Across New
England the legions of devout Parcellsians grumbled. They should
have listened to the Tuna. As always, Glenn took it in stride.
"It was no big deal," he says. "Coach Parcells likes tough guys,
and as a receiver, people automatically look at you as some kind
of pretty boy who gets hurt all the time. That's probably what
everyone thought of me. Especially after the she thing."
Ah, the she thing. In August, during one of Parcells's daily
press conferences, a reporter asked him how the injured Glenn
was doing. With a smile, Parcells replied, "She's coming along."
The comment cast even more doubts on Glenn's toughness.
But Glenn wasted no time in forcing the remark down Parcells's
throat. In his debut against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2, Glenn
caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Bledsoe, diving for the
ball inside the five and then, when no defender touched him,
smartly rolling into the end zone. It turned out to be the
opening scene in a highlight-film season. "Without Terry," says
Bledsoe, "I don't think we'd be where we are right now."
Glenn caught five or more passes in 12 games. He went over the
middle, he went deep, he went up in traffic, and he always
seemed to come down with the football. He finished a distant
second in Rookie of the Year voting, to Houston Oilers running
back Eddie George, his former Ohio State teammate, but Glenn
says, "I'll bet Eddie would rather be going to New Orleans."
By the final game of the regular season, even Parcells couldn't
deny that Glenn had earned his stripes. The New York Giants
jumped to a stunning 22-0 lead over the Patriots in a game New
England needed to clinch a playoff bye, and in the third quarter
Glenn suffered a hip pointer. "They told me I could sit out the
rest of the game if I wanted," Glenn recalls. "I told them to
give me a shot, so I could get back out there."
Earlier in the game Glenn had broken the rookie receptions
record of 83, set by San Francisco 49ers tight end Earl Cooper
in 1980. And by the time it was over, Bledsoe and Glenn had
hooked up eight times for 124 yards and a touchdown, as the
Patriots rallied for a 23-22 win over Parcells's former team.
"I know it was very emotional for him, playing the Giants in the
Meadowlands," says Glenn. "After the game, he called me up in
front of the team and said, 'I'm proud of you. You showed me
that you're a player.' He was crying, and I was crying a little,
A few days before the AFC Championship Game against the
Jacksonville Jaguars, Parcells was asked at a press conference
about the remarkable progress made by the rookie who had been
forced upon him. Would he finally admit that Glenn was the
perfect choice for his team? "She's doing good," said Parcells,
and the room erupted in laughter.
This time there were no insinuations. The message was clear: The
kid was all right.
After the Super Bowl, Glenn can sit by his pond about 25 miles
outside Boston with his girlfriend, Kim, and their
eight-month-old son, Terry Jr., and say goodbye to Columbus at
last. But Glenn isn't ready to do that. Not yet. He says he
would first like to go home and take care of the people who took
care of him, people like Charles and Mary Henley, who opened
their home to him when he had nowhere else to go. Glenn wants to
visit another individual who had a profound effect on his life:
Kenneth Adams, who remains imprisoned in Marion, Ohio. "I just
want to ask him how he could kill another human being," says
Glenn. "Some people told me that he's worried I'll use my money
and my name to try to keep him in jail, and I want to tell him
something: He's right."
Glenn recently heard something else from the folks back home.
They said his father was living in Columbus and hoping to
reconcile with the son he abandoned 20 years ago. Glenn isn't
interested. "I've never seen him and I don't want to see him,"
he says, his eyes welling with anger. "As far as I'm concerned,
he's just like the man who killed my mother. If he would have
been there for us, it never would have happened."
Glenn breathes deeply and leans back on his tan leather couch,
wiping his eyes with the back of his wrist. The sadness is never
far from the surface. On a table behind him sits a large framed
photograph of Terry Jr., bearing a smile as wide as the pond. A
dried-out Christmas tree stands in the corner. Terry says he
bought his son everything for his first Christmas. "I mean
everything," says Glenn.
Terry Jr. looks like he's going to be a big kid. Would his dad
want him to be a football player? "People ask me that sometimes,
and I tell them I really don't care," Glenn says. "I want him to
be a normal, happy kid. I just don't want him to go through the
things I had to go through."
The kid may never be as tough as his father, but that's O.K. Few
Glenn will be the sixth rookie wide receiver to start in the
31-game history of the Super Bowl. Here's how the first five
Super Bowl Player, Team Catches Yards TDs
V REGGIE RUCKER, Cowboys 0 0 0
XI SAMMY WHITE, Vikings 5 77 1
XVI CRIS COLLINSWORTH, Bengals 5 107 0
XXII RICKY NATTIEL, Broncos 2 69 1
XXV AL EDWARDS, Bills 0 0 0
Source: Elias Sports Bureau