Tue, 07 Jul 2020

Where are they now: Kevin Glover

Detroit Lions
01 Jun 2020, 20:25 GMT+10

Kevin Glover had a sense of looking back at history - his own history - when he watched this year's NFL draft that was a one-of-a-kind "Draft At Home" caused by the nationwide stay-at-home mandate to battle the spread of COVID-19.

Team and league officials conducted the virtual draft from their homes, and the 255 players drafted were at home to get the news of which team drafted them and when.

In Glover's view, it was like 1985 all over again - the year the Detroit Lions drafted him in the second round after his career as an All-American center at Maryland.

"In some ways, it reminded me of my era," Glover said in a telephone interview from his home in suburban Baltimore.

"The players were at home. That's was how it was when we came into the league. I know probably some of the top guys were invited to New York. I wasn't one of those guys.

"It gave me a flash back to the old days. You're at home, waiting for a call, with your parents and maybe your best friends or your girlfriend. That was it. It was a special moment that none of us will ever forget.

"That's just the way it was. Some of those videos reminded me of that."

Glover slept through most of the first round of the draft and had to be awakened by his parents when calls started coming from teams interested in drafting him. That wasn't because of a lack of interest on his part.

Glover spent the night before the draft writing a paper for one of his classes, which he delivered to his professor's office before heading to his parents' home to sleep and await the draft.

"I told my parents to wake me up if I got a call," he said. "If not, let me rest."

He was asleep when he got a call from the Patriots, who had the last pick in the first round.

"I went back to sleep," Glover said. "The Lions called me six picks later.".

He was on the move immediately to get acquainted with his new team.

"I had to get to Detroit that day," Glover said. "I went back to campus and did some interviews - very small press conferences, compared to nowadays, then flew to Detroit to meet the rest of my teammates.

"It was a very interesting and fun process."

It was the start of a 13-year career with the Lions, in which he became a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the best centers in franchise history.

It took resilience and strong character on Glover's part for him to reach that level. Those are qualities he possessed in abundance to go along with his natural ability and leadership.

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Glover, who turns 57 in mid-June, has applied his experience and qualities in several capacities at the University of Maryland's athletic department in player development and alumni relationships since returning to his alma mater in 2004. He and his wife, Cestaine, have three children.

Glover recalls how he and the others in the Lions 1985 rookie class - which included first-round pick Lomas Brown - had a welcoming party of veterans when he got to Detroit.

They were taken to Joe Louis Arena, where the Pistons were playing their playoff series against the Celtics because of damage to the Silverdome roof.

"We walked into Joe Louis Arena, and we walk straight down to courtside," Glover said. "That was just amazing. I grew up a basketball guy."

Welcome to the big leagues.

When it got down to the business of playing football, it was a slower process than might have been expected before Glover took over as the starter.

Steve Mott, drafted in the fifth round out of Alabama in 1983, was entrenched as the starter ahead of Glover.

Knee injuries his first two seasons limited Glover to 10 games without a start as a rookie and four games with one start in 1996. He spent two more seasons at guard - nine starts in 1997 and all 16 in 1998 - before taking over at center in 1999.

He also played tight end during his apprenticeship period. He was mostly a blocker - with one notable exception.

"I caught a touchdown pass against the Vikings," Glover said. "It was called back on a penalty."

When Glover finally took over as the full-time center, the position was his and his alone. He started all 16 games in eight of the nine seasons, from 1989-97. He missed nine games in 1992 because of a broken leg.

He learned valuable lessons on the way to winning the center job. An exchange with offensive line coach Bill Muir in 1986 gave him an edge that he carried the rest of his career.

"My knee was bothering me, and I told him I thought I needed a day off and a practice off," Glover recalled. "He told me straight off: 'You can't afford to take a day off.' And he just walked away."

It helped make him an iron man. It took serious injury - like the broken leg - to get him off the field for a play, much less a game.

"Not only won't I take a day off," Glover said. "I won't take a play off. That was my goal every year. I was going to play every snap of every season."

Glover was so adamant that late in the final game of one season a reserve was sent in to take his place for the final few snaps. Glover refused to go to the bench. The sub finally had to run off the field, to prevent the Lions from getting a penalty for 12 men on the field.

Glover's takeover in 1989 coincided with the Lions' rise in fortunes. They had been building the roster, adding future Pro Bowl players such as Jerry Ball, Lomas Brown, Chris Spielman, Bennie Blades and Glover in the draft, along with solid starters and role players.

The 1989 draft brought Barry Sanders, the greatest runner in NFL history. And there were more Pro Bowlers players to come - Herman Moore, Robert Porcher among them.

The payoff was on the field. From 1991-97 the Lions made the playoffs five times, had three seasons with double digit wins and won two division titles.

The Silverdome rocked on game day, with fans filling the 80,000-seat stadium.

"To step up in that dome, on any given Sunday, the intensity and volume were unbelievable," Glover said. "You could stand one foot or maybe 10 inches, away from somebody and scream as loud as you could, and they couldn't hear you.

"The Silverdome floor was cement. You could feel it vibrate. It was a very, very good era. Pontiac, Detroit and the surrounding areas, they really deserved that for all the years they gave the organization."

Glover and Sanders developed a close relationship.

Sanders won four rushing titles, from 1990-97. The 1997 season was the highlight - 2,053 yards capped off by 184 and the winning touchdown in the final game against the Jets that put the Lions in the playoffs.

The Lions had a close-knit team, and Glover was one of the leaders who brought - and kept -- teammates together.

"I wanted to be a strong leader," he said. "We'd have get-togethers, Halloween parties, bible study. All the players' wives were close and supported each other. The older ones would look out for the younger ones and their families.

"That era was special. We all had great relationships. When you had a teammate, a friend, somebody as talented as Barry is and as humble as he is - people don't realize how humble he is.

"It makes it that much more special."

Glover departed after the 1997 season, signing with Seattle as a free agent after having made the Pro Bowl for the third straight year. Injuries cut short both seasons.

Football is a hard game, played by men who accept the risks.

Glover has no regrets about the 15 years he spent in the NFL.

"There are so many things you take away from your time," he said. "It starts way back - from getting a phone call, flying to a city you never visited, meeting all these people.

"It's absolutely worth it, and I'd definitely do it again. I've had about 10 surgeries ... a couple were after playing ball.

"I'd absolutely do it again - without any regrets."

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