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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
TAMPA - Think of him as moonlight on the Acropolis. Think of him as the shimmering lights of the Aurora Borealis on a winter's night. Think of him as sunrise spreading across the Pyramids.
Even now, after all of these years, Joey Galloway is still that kind of wonder.
He is larger than Mount Everest. He covers more ground than the Grand Canyon. He is as ageless as Stonehenge.
Even now, after all of these plays, Galloway is still something of a marvel.
At this point, schools should organize field trips to allow children to see him. Historians and documentary filmmakers should surround his locker. Someone from the national preservation society should show up any moment although, to tell you the truth, they wouldn't be able to catch up to him either.
Here he is, almost 36 years old, and the treasure that is Joey Gallops-Away is as glorious to behold as ever.
And if you are going to compare him to the rest of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, well, what was the big deal about a bunch of hanging gardens, anyway?
Galloway dazzled another crowd Sunday. This time, it was his 69-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter that added the only electricity to an otherwise unplugged afternoon. One minute, the Bucs were slogging along an inch at a time, and the next, in the blink of a defensive back's eye, Galloway was flashing past on his way to another end zone.
I'm guessing that to Titans safety Calvin Lowry, it sounded a lot like a bullet whizzing past.
How does this keep happening? Galloway is old, old enough for a reunion tour, old enough to be called a codger, old enough to be an analyst, and keeps leaving defensive backs with scorch marks.
The amazing thing isn't that Galloway is still good. A lot of players are still good at 36. With Galloway, it's that he is still so darned fast.
"Even now, I don't know if there is another receiver who can run like he does," said cornerback Ronde Barber, who looks at other receivers for a living. "If there is, I haven't seen him. I can't imagine anyone running faster than Joey."
For a while, it seemed like the Titans weren't going to let Galloway run anywhere. Like the Colts the week before, they had him surrounded. Watching Galloway trying to run pass patterns against Tennessee was like watching a man try to hurry through a crowded mall.
And then the coverage was right.
And then Galloway was gone.
If you are looking for a glimpse into the future, then Sunday was a pretty good one. The Bucs are going to struggle on offense. They're going to play hard on defense. They're going to pick their spots.
Somewhere along the line, they're going to let Galloway try to hit a home run.
"It's no fun," Galloway says of the extra attention he has received lately. "But if they want to run three guys with me and Ike gets open, that's fine."
For those who want to quibble, yes, Galloway could catch more balls in traffic. For a long time, the knock on Galloway has been that all he can do is run deep. On the other hand, all Santana can do is play the guitar and all Picasso could do was paint.
Besides, if you remember, Galloway did have a 14-yard catch on the 100-Year-Old Drive Sunday. You know, the one where Jeff Garcia (37) kept throwing to Galloway (35) and Ike Hilliard (31) along the way.
"You want to hear a good story?" Monte Kiffin asked. A half-hour after the victory, the defensive coordinator sat on an equipment trunk in a meeting room next to the Bucs' locker room talking about the first time he saw Galloway.
It was opening day 2001. Galloway, the No. 8 overall pick by the Seahawks in 1995, was with the Cowboys. Kiffin had bumped into Ernie Zampese, the old Chargers offensive coordinator who was working for Dallas as a consultant.
"Ernie, I hear this Galloway is a pretty good player," Kiffin remembers saying.
"Monte, for all my years in football, this is absolutely the fastest guy I've ever been around," Zampese said.
Kiffin scurried back to his sideline and found Mike Tomlin, the Steelers coach who was about to coach his first game as the Bucs' secondary coach.
"Mike, Galloway is one of the fastest players Ernie has ever been around," Kiffin said. "We might not want to play bump on him."
Kiffin laughs at his story. Then he looks up and grins.
"That was six years ago and, you know, I'm not sure Joey still isn't the absolute fastest player in the game," he said.