He will be missed

A reflection on the life and career of Terry Glenn

By Marc Katz

Terry Glenn’s mother was beaten to death in Columbus when he was 13 years old, so I guess you can trace his life’s trajectory from that tragedy to his car wreck in Dallas in the early morning of Nov. 20.

Losing his mother wasn’t Glenn’s only early-in-life tragedy. He, also, lost three cousins and an uncle before he arrived at Ohio State in 1992, and then a best friend, Brookhaven High School and OSU teammate Jayson Gwinn, who also died in a car accident, in 1993.

You can remember Glenn for a lot of things he did right and wrong over the years. I prefer to remember him for one of the singular greatest seasons as a receiver ever recorded by an Ohio State football player in 1995.

I can, also, tell you he was not necessarily shy, but a modest sort of guy not given to boasting, even though he did bring on some criticism for some pre-Michigan game comments in 1995, which helped lead to a major OSU loss – if you believe locker room quotes can change game scores.

It was his last OSU season. He had been redshirted upon arrival at OSU when his grades wouldn’t allow him a scholarship before the Buckeyes distributed all they had. He decided to walk on. He quickly earned a scholarship, although he didn’t play much through two seasons following a redshirt year. After all, he was playing behind Joey Galloway.

 “He catches the ball like Jerry Rice. He’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever been around.” – John Cooper

Glenn could, also, be remembered for his 12 seasons in the NFL, or the several times he was arrested for various criminal acts, ranging from domestic violence to using marijuana.

The fact we have to remember him at all now is because he didn’t survive that auto crash. He was just 43.

Just on the athletics side, Glenn’s short varsity career – he gave up his senior season and was drafted No. 7 by New England in 1996 – was among the best in Buckeye’s history.

I covered the careers of Cris Carter, Jeff Graham, Galloway and David Boston, and you could argue all were better than Glenn in career numbers, but Glenn caught 64 passes for 1,411 yards and 17 touchdowns in 1995, and I saw him once block two guys on the same play to facilitate an OSU touchdown. He fell down after the first block, recovering to get up and block another potential tackler.

By that time, Carter was already in the NFL and playing for the Vikings when the Buckeyes visited Minnesota for a Big Ten game. Carter came out to watch and I mentioned to him I never thought I’d see a better receiver than him – until Glenn came along. Carter – who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, by the way – admitted Glenn was special, and faster than Cris as well.

At the end of the season, Glenn was presented with the Fred Biletnikoff Award as college football’s best receiver.

“He catches the ball like Jerry Rice,” then OSU coach John Cooper said, when Rice was the best receiver in the game – maybe ever. “He’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever been around.”

Yet even that season wasn’t clean of controversy. Once, I set up an interview with him only to discover upon driving to Columbus the interview was called off because Glenn didn’t want to talk about his family life, which I had made clear the interview wasn’t going to be about.

I complained to an assistant coach that OSU wasn’t doing a good job promoting its players and a mini-storm arose with me in the middle as the bad guy.

Then, prior to the Michigan game that season – which Ohio State was projected to win – Glenn wouldn’t predict a winner, but said, “Michigan is nobody,” and guaranteed OSU would play in the Rose Bowl, which could only happen with a victory.

Protection that failed all day on the field now was ramped up by Ohio State, which wouldn’t allow the media to ask Glenn questions after the game.

When it came time for the draft, Glenn had no real decision to make. He was going to be a high first-rounder. Returning to OSU would not be a viable option.

In the next 12 years, there were good times and bad, injuries and revivals. Glenn had 1,000-yard seasons and is credited with catching Tom Brady’s first touchdown pass, in 2001.

He played for the Patriots, Packers and Cowboys. He also sat out games following knee surgery and had some contract disputes. His first pro coach, Bill Parcells, mocked him and called him, “she.” Parcells later recanted the remark. You couldn’t watch Glenn play and not think he was a tough player. You wouldn’t want to mix genders now or then, anyway.

In recent years, he was coaching Champions Indoor Football League.

I know, he has that rap sheet. Who knows how it all would have worked had he enjoyed a better home life as a youngster. I don’t know if he ever met his father, but he hadn’t through his Ohio State career. He was close with his mother, until she was brutally taken away.

And now, Terry Glenn’s is gone, too.

It’s a sad, and shocking, day.

The views and opinions expressed in On Your Marc are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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