Joseph ( Joe ) Gilliam, Jr. born on Dec 29, 1950, in Charleston, West Virginiawas an African-American professional football player. Gilliam was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1972 in the 11th round after a college football career at Tennessee State University where he was a two-time All-American.

He became the Steelers’ starting Quarterback in 1974 but lost the job when Terry Bradshaw was chosen to lead the team after the first six games of the season. Gilliam was out of the National Football League at the end of 1975 He battled cocaine and alcohol addiction on and off over the next few years.

In 1981 Gilliam returned to football, playing quarterback for the semi-pro New Orleans Blue Knights of the Dixie Football League. In 1983, Gilliam attempted a comeback to pro football in the United States Football League with the Washington Federals. He did not have much success and retired from the sport for good after that season.

Gilliam ran a football camp in Nashville at times. He earned the nickname “Jefferson Street Joe” for the boulevard that runs by Tennessee State University in Nashville.

Gilliam died of a heart attack on December 25, 2000 shortly after watching the NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys at the Tennessee Titans.

He had been sober for four years prior to his death and was able to attend the final Steelers game at Three Rivers Stadium.

Posted by imran Saturday, October 31, 2009


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