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He's Not One to Talk . . . Yet : Raiders: McGlockton says he won't give interviews until he 'makes a contribution.' It appears that time has come.

September 24, 1993|LONNIE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For the first 18 games of his NFL career, it really didn't matter that Raider defensive tackle Chester McGlockton never talked to reporters.

That's because the Raiders' No. 1 draft choice in 1992 spent more time on the injured list than the playing field.

A preseason foot injury hampered him throughout last season, and a preseason "turf toe" caused him to start slowly this season.

But last Sunday's last-play defeat by the Cleveland Browns was easily his best game as a pro. McGlockton was a dominant force all over the field.

"His play was excellent," Coach Art Shell said. "He's getting healthy now and that's the most important thing."

McGlockton made his presence felt on Cleveland's second possession, intercepting Bernie Kosar's pass and returning it 19 yards to help set up a Raider field goal.

He came right back on the Browns' next drive and stuffed Eric Metcalf for a five-yard loss. One play later, McGlockton helped pressure Kosar into throwing another interception, this time to Derrick Hoskins.

"The Raiders' defensive front was a force early in the game, and No. 91 (McGlockton) was right in the middle," Cleveland Coach Bill Belichick said.

In the second half, McGlockton continued his rampage with several key tackles, including his first sack of the season. He finished with six tackles, including five for losses.

So, was McGlockton ready to tell his story after his impressive performance?

"No comment," said the 6-foot-4, 315-pound McGlockton.

"That doesn't surprise me," Shell said, smiling. "He's the kind of guy who wants to do something before he starts talking to the press.

"I've had a slight discussion with him about talking to the press and he said, 'I haven't done anything yet. I want to make a big contribution and then, maybe down the road, I'll decide to talk. But right now, I have nothing to talk about.' "

So instead of soaking up media attention, McGlockton politely refuses to do interviews.

But no one knows him better on the Raiders than fellow defensive lineman Howie Long, who has become something of a spokesman for McGlockton.

"He's just a big country guy," Long said. "Way, way at the bottom of his totem pole is media relations. Nothing personal, but he just has no desire to be in the newspaper or to be on TV."

The friendship between McGlockton and Long may seem an odd one, considering their backgrounds.

Long, 33, is a white 13-year NFL veteran who was born and raised in Massachusetts. McGlockton, 24, is a black second-year pro from North Carolina.

Long played at Villanova, a school not known for its football program. McGlockton played at Clemson, where football rules.

Long is a media favorite who has been in several national commercials and even has his own candy bar. McGlockton couldn't care less about exposure.

"It's like we've known each other our whole lives," said Long, who moved McGlockton into his home for two months last season. "We socially just grew closer together off the field. He doesn't see color, I don't see color. I don't see geography, he doesn't see geography. We just call it the way it is."

And McGlockton's performance against Cleveland was something the Raiders had been waiting for since they made him the 16th overall selection of the 1992 draft.

They had hoped that he would have been an impact player last season.

"I wasn't really worried about him because I knew the type of person he was," Shell said. "He puts up a little bit of a front so people don't get to know him. But, I knew that he wanted to do well and be the best football player he could be."

For many rookies, that kind of first-year season would have been discouraging. It wasn't for McGlockton.

"We weren't sure what was exactly wrong with him," Long said. "It's difficult to be injured because a lot of people put pressure on you. It turned out that his injury was a little bit more severe than originally thought.

"The thing is that he was being misjudged, but he never let it bother him. From Day 1, he was comfortable with himself, and that's very unusual for a rookie. He's old beyond his years."

On Thursday, McGlockton did not practice because he is still bothered by his toe injury.

"Two years in a row now, he's had injury problems with one foot or the other," Shell said. "We want him healthy because we know he has the ability. I'm telling you, when this guy gets healthy, he's going to be one great force to be reckoned with. He's a very talented individual who'll be able to go to as many Pro Bowls as he wants to."

Long agrees.

"I'm excited about the guy." he said. "He has a lot going for him and I would like to see him become a great, great player. I would like to see him become the next Howie Long here. He can take that and take it even further. He has that kind of ability."

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