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Short Players Have Role Models in NFL

March 30, 1986|STEVE HENSON | Times Staff Writer

There is no single secret to gaining success when you are a small football player. But there is a method.

Perseverance.

Consider the case of Duane Galloway, a defensive back for the Detroit Lions by way of the Indianapolis Colts, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Los Angeles Express, Arizona State Sun Devils, Santa Monica City College Corsairs and Crenshaw High Cougars.

Galloway is 5-9 and 185 pounds--but only after years of nonstop weight training. He was 5-7, 170 when he left Crenshaw.

His NFL salary is the reward of surviving a long struggle to earn the respect of those who doubted that a man of his stature could cover the likes of Cris Collinsworth (6-5) or Art Monk (6-3).

"I keep plugging," Galloway, 24, said. "I was encouraged early on by (former Ram) Pat Thomas and other short guys. I always felt like I had to do something extra to gain notice."

He served notice on opening day last season by making seven tackles and batting down a fourth-down pass with less than two minutes left in Detroit's 28-27 win over Atlanta. Galloway knocked the pass down with a broken arm.

Galloway went on injured reserve and didn't return until the 16th week of the season. He is expected to make the Detroit roster again this season, a team spokesman said.

The cold shoulder that high school seniors Cary Grant and Joe Zacharia have received from major college recruiters is an experience familiar to Galloway.

"Yes, my height was a factor in not getting a ride out of high school," Galloway said. "My grades weren't up to par and that didn't help, but many schools only looked at my height. My skills have always been overshadowed by my lack of height."

According to the 1985 NFL Register, 36 players are shorter than 5-10. Ten of those players attended Division II or III colleges. All are defensive backs, wide receivers or running backs, including certified stars Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, Lionel James, Joe Morris, Darrell Green and Billy (White Shoes) Johnson.

Zacharia, 6-0, will have to make a successful transition from lineman to linebacker to have a chance at the pros, college coaches insist.

No NFL defensive lineman is 6-0 or shorter, but 16 linebackers are 6-0 and Denver's Tom Jackson is 5-11. Five of the 6-footers--Carlos Bradley, Mike Green, Vince Osby, Ray Preston and Woody Lowe--play for San Diego. A cynic might say they are part of the reason the Chargers always rank near the bottom of the league in defense.

But Zacharia might say they have paved the way.

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