Life In The Fast Lane -- Fame, Fortune Are Galloway's, But New Hawk Will Take It Easy

Joey Galloway - more blur than man, maybe the fastest person in the NFL - is in love with his new chair. His favorite position is that of most couch spuds. Reclined.

After football practice, Galloway is nearly motionless, wrapped in a blue bean-bag chair bearing the logo of his new employer, the Seattle Seahawks. Two parts of him, though, are busy. His left hand and his right hand.

Looking like the most comfortably seated man in the world, Galloway hits a couple of home runs with flicks of a finger.

"That's his life," said his friend Chad Magistro, who played football and basketball with Galloway in high school. "If he's not playing sports, he's playing Sega. He's real good. I can't beat him in anything, except maybe left-handed, one-on-one (basketball)."

Every adult decision he has made - and he has made many - he did to get here. So he could come home from work and choose between Sega baseball or basketball.

At home, Galloway looks much as he looked a few weeks ago when he threw out the first pitch of a game between the Mariners and the Boston Red Sox - like he is 15, with baseball cap backward, shirt hanging out of his baggy, low-riding pants. Though he has a 30-inch waist and the narrowest hips this side of a gymnast, he can wear pants no smaller than a size-34 so he can get them over his thighs.

These legs of Galloway's have been the source of a big fuss, for they can cover 40 yards in a reported 4.18 seconds and propel the 5-foot-11, 188-pound receiver 40 inches off the ground.

"The one thing Joey has is that instant acceleration," Seahawk cornerback Carlton Gray said.

Yes, Galloway can catch. Yes, he can win, whether it's football or Sega. But his speed is why the Seahawks drafted him.

"You just don't get speed like that and someone who can catch the football," said Seahawk Coach Dennis Erickson, who drafted the Ohio State graduate in the first round with the eighth overall pick.

Erickson's friend, University of Washington Coach Jim Lambright, has devised game plans against both Galloway and J.J. Stokes, the other gifted receiver Seattle could have chosen, and said he'd take Galloway.

"I totally agreed with the Seahawks' decision," Lambright said, "in terms of the number of things he can do for that team early on. He can run, catch, return kicks."

Washington cornerback Reggie Reser has covered both, and though he said he had more trouble with Stokes, he would have taken Galloway.

"He's a more pro-oriented receiver," Reser said. "Stokes is strong and big, but easier to cover. At that level (the NFL), everyone's big, so Stokes won't have such an advantage."

A few NFL seasons might also prove Galloway the more durable of the two. Stokes, who missed most of his final college season with a bruised thigh, is sidelined again with a broken hand.

If Galloway plays his entire career in Seattle, could he become the Steve Largent of the 21st century, a Largent with 4.18 speed? Seahawk safety Eugene Robinson thinks so.

"No doubt, no question," Robinson said. "I didn't even hesitate to say that. He can play."

Erickson carefully studied every option before deciding Galloway was the man he wanted. To spread the field, to play his kind of offense, he needs Galloway's speed and versatility.

He needs someone so fast, an opponent has to be committed to covering him on every play, maybe with two people. Somebody who can turn a short pass into a long gain. Somebody who can take a kickoff and consistently return it past the 35. A receiver who can occasionally take a handoff around the end.

Erickson needs Galloway. Rick Mirer needs Galloway.

"To throw long, you need somebody who can run long," Erickson said. "Now that we have someone, I'm sure Rick will be a better long passer."

Seattle does not know him well yet. Seattle probably would not recognize him in a grocery store. Seattle does not love him yet, but it will. Seattle already has a history of becoming enamored with kid millionaires who can do extraordinary things. Shawn Kemp and Ken Griffey Jr. became superstars. So could Joey Galloway.

Seattle's newest kid, who has yet to play a real NFL game, is enjoying his temporary anonymity. He likes staying home. His taste for food is hamburgers and hot dogs, the dish he prepared his first night in his new apartment overlooking Lake Washington.

"This is the first time I've lived alone," said Galloway, 23. "I get a little lonely. In Columbus, my friends are always around. Here I have to do everything myself. It's easier to keep things clean. I usually just come home and play Sega, just to relax. I think tonight, I'll go get some fast food."

Give a kid from Bellaire, Ohio, a million bucks, and he will buy a pair of televisions. His greatest indulgence is 32 diagonal inches, times two - one to watch baseball, the other to play video baseball. This pair of Mitsubishis were Galloway's first major purchase.

Underneath the television he keeps videotapes of the Indiana Jones and Batman trilogies, as well as every Star Trek movie ever made.

"Sci-Fi is my favorite," Galloway said. "I've always loved Star Trek. I've seen them all, even the old ones."

Only to Galloway, old Star Trek is "Wrath of Khan," and Captain Kirk has always had love handles.

The sofa and the bedroom set were his mother's selections. Shortly after her youngest son moved to Seattle to start his job as the Seattle Seahawks' regional assistant director of long bombs and quick outs, Carolyn Galloway flew in and decorated his new one-bedroom apartment.

The kitchen is dressed up in typical midwest, country charm, as if Holly Hobby had moved in. The rest of the furniture is uptown chic, lots of white. Galloway mostly leans against it. Given his druthers, Galloway sits on the floor.

Joey does not know where his mom shopped. She just had it delivered one day. Seeing that it looked expensive, he gasped before realizing that he could very comfortably afford it.

"He still thinks he needs to buy a $100 couch like the one he had in college," Carolyn Galloway said.

His couches no longer sit on bricks. But Joey Galloway still has to remind himself when he talks long distance to his girlfriend, Bree Blakely - she is a journalism major and a soccer player at Ohio State - that it's OK to talk an hour or more.

Galloway is at a strange crossroads in his life. He loves Big Macs and his toys, but also has an investment broker and an attorney. His mother and his best friends say stardom and money have not changed him.

Carolyn Galloway should know. She talks to him just about every day and hears the same thing at the end of every phone call.

"I love you, too."

Money, strangely, does not seem so important to Galloway. If it was, he might have held out for more of it when negotiating with the Seahawks, who signed him to a five-year, $7.91 million contract. Galloway's three-day holdout put to shame the weeks-long holdouts of the team's other recent first-round picks, Rick Mirer, Ray Roberts and Cortez Kennedy.

Carolyn and James Galloway were the ones who convinced Joey to stay at Ohio State and finish college. That was something they never did and neither did any of their three oldest sons, Keith, 31; James Jr., 30; and Curtis, 29. James did not want his son's decision to be about money.

"As usual they were right," Joey said.

Given everything he needed, he never worshipped money. His mother is a cashier at the local grocery store and his father is a technician for the telephone company. When the family's house burned down, James Galloway rebuilt the house.

"He's amazing," Joey said. "He'd grab a book on carpentry and before you knew it, he'd put in a new room."

Not inclined to pick up tools, young Joey liked to draw and he loved to watch all kinds of sports on television.

"I would ask him, `Don't you want to watch cartoons?' " Carolyn Galloway said. "But all he wanted to watch was sports."

She also noticed that Joey seemed to always have a plan. In grade school, he told his mother he would be going to college.

"What do you want to major in?" she asked.


"You can't major in football. You have to choose something else."


Soon he asked his father, "If I go to college, will you get me a car?"

James promised him a car, years later buying him a 1985 Buick to drive to Columbus.

"He was different," Carolyn Galloway said. "He seemed to be more mature at a younger age. He had priorities."

As a youngster, he volunteered to take naps. And he rarely missed school, insisting on attending even when he was sick. His bus driver once saw how ill Joey was, and made him go back home.

"He was the only kid I knew who actually wanted to go to school," James said.

It wasn't so much that he enjoyed school, Joey said, but he associated school with football. His love for one made the other absolutely necessary.

Before consulting with his parents, Joey had decided he would go pro after his junior season. He had caught 47 passes for 946 yards and 11 touchdowns, and had rushed for two more. He knew he would get drafted high. So Galloway accepted $200 from a man acting as an agent. Trouble was he changed his mind, decided to stay in school, but neglected to pay the money back.

He publicly admitted his mistake, but couldn't miss the irony: he passed up the big money, but got in trouble for such a relatively small amount. The NCAA suspended Galloway for two games, including one against the Washington Huskies, who beat the Buckeyes. Missing that game, Galloway said, is what he feels most badly about.

After his senior season, his statistics, and hence his judgment, were questioned. But Galloway has no regrets.

"I didn't stay because of the money or to catch a hundred passes," Galloway said. "I wanted to get my degree. I had another year to hang out with my friends. Why let that get away?"

He earned a degree in business and marketing, graduating with a 3.2 grade-point average. He lived with close friends until the day he had to leave for Seattle. Early this summer, he shared an apartment in Columbus with Magistro and C.J. Snell, another friend from high school, and Chris Sanders, an Ohio State teammate.

Galloway, Magistro, Snell and Mike Youssef made up one of the tightest bunch of players on the Bellaire High football team. They spent most of their idle hours hanging out on "the corner" at the intersection of Guernsey and Belmont, lamenting the lack of excitement in Bellaire and sharing their dreams.

"We all knew we were going to make it and we all knew what needed to be done," Galloway said.

Snell attends the University of Akron; Magistro attends Mercer University, where he also plays baseball; Youssef played football at Brown and is applying to medical school.

"Joey," Snell said, "will be the biggest name to come out of Bellaire."

Located across the river from West Virginia, Bellaire is a small town with a depressed economy and a shrinking population of about 6,000. The town once thrived on coal mines, steel mills and glass factories. But most of them have shut down and jobs are getting scarce.

Sometimes, it seems, football is the only thing happening in Bellaire. Like most towns in the Ohio River Valley, Bellaire absolutely loves football and everybody loves Galloway. His touchdown catch two weeks ago against New Orleans was the talk of the town.

"It was all over the news," Snell sid. "The next day, everyone was asking, `Did you see Joey's catch last night?' Seahawks jerseys with Joey's number sold out the first couple days the stores had them."

Bellaire will always claim Galloway, no matter where he plays. Boys from Bellaire always come home to Bellaire.

"They don't forget their roots," said Magistro, Chad's father.

Magistro couldn't resist telling his favorite Joey Galloway story. He was a junior, Chad a sophomore, starting for the first time at quarterback.

"His first pass to Joey was a touchdown," John Magistro said. "You know, it was just a 6-yard pass, but Joey ran about 60 yards for a touchdown."

Magistro could see his former player doing the same thing in a Seahawk uniform.

"His speed," Magistro said, "has gotten better and better. You know, once he got to Ohio State, we all said, `He will be playing on Sunday afternoons.' When you see kids in high school, it's so hard to see it in that perspective. But the thing about him was that he worked at it."

By now, Magistro wished he had Galloway back.

"Joey's such a good kid. He was like having another son. He's a good speaker, too. We had a football camp last year, and Joey was the main attraction. Everybody loves Joey."