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?