"It was a strange time to be playing football," he says over lunch. "We had the Vietnam War, Woodstock, social changes all around us. But football wasn't real." He says he has only one regret over his abbreviated football career—"I wish I'd made more money."
At 44, Thomas looks 24 and weighs 15 pounds less than the 220 pounds he carried while with the Cowboys. He and his second wife, Shatemar, split their time between Taos, N.Mex., where they own a ranch; Dallas, home to his six children—ages nine to 25—from his first marriage; and L.A., where Thomas has a contracting company for commercial construction. Thomas also co-hosts a weekly L.A. radio talk show on football. Talk show? "Yeah, I know," says the ex-Sphinx, "a lot of people get a good chuckle out of that one."
A PUNCHER TURNED POET
It turns out that Jerry Quarry is a better poet than Muhammad Ali and a better singer than Joe Frazier. As you may remember, Quarry wasn't quite in their class as a boxer. He was a popular heavyweight contender in the '60s and early '70s, a rough-and-tumble Irishman who could hit pretty hard but always came up several rounds short of living up to that promotional knockout, the (.real White I lope. So he was left to consider finer arts than boxing.
Perhaps you'll find yourself in a small club in San Bernardino some night and hear a husky voice crooning: "I went to a garden party/And out steps Muhammad Ali/He was throwing lefts and was throwing lights/Like he threw at me...."
"We Irish all know how to sing," says Quarry, who has fronted for several California bands. "And I don't mean to put anybody down, but I'm a much better singer than Joe Frazier was with the Knockouts, or even Lorry Holmes. When it comes to singing, I'm the heavyweight champion of the world."
His poetry would probably also stop Ali in his tracks. Quarry says he will soon have a book of his poems published, titled. The Best of All Time. Here's a snippet he recites: "In the ring with Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali/Is a memory I look on with pride/fought with my heart but needed much more/The bridesmaid but never the bride."
"What I'm trying to do primarily," he says, "is become a Renaissance man. I want to show the world you don't have in gel into the ring to be a man."