Remember No. 28?

I mis-read the name when I first glanced at the return address, perhaps because I was pretty sure I did not know anyone at Sindhubaugh on Tilak Road, Ghatkopar (E), or anywhere else in Mumbai, India. Or anywhere else in India, period. I was wrong.

The large, pale green envelope obviously contained more than a letter, but promised "No Submission Enclosed."

I looked back at the name on the return address and had a glimmer of recognition. But, in truth, until I read the letter inside I was not sure.

The packet was from Gary Richardson. He reminded me that he had been a walk-on Alabama football player in the early 1970s. He wrote, "In 1972, Coach Bryant bestowed the honor of a lifetime on a scout team walk-on. He let me suit up for the Florida game at Denny Stadium. I wore the jersey ALABAMA 28."

One of the first things I thought of was the ridiculous Southeastern Conference "cost-cutting" rule that frequently prevents a walk-on from being rewarded by being allowed to dress out for a home game because of an arbitrary limit.

I was assistant sports information director at Alabama in 1972. I enjoyed doing brief stories on players like Gary Richardson to send to their hometown newspapers. Gary remembered that I had interviewed him and "to my astonishment, a story appeared in my hometown paper the Kingston (New York) Daily Freeman. It was a walk-on's dream come true."

Gary suffered a career-ending shoulder injury in the 1973 A-Day Game, though truth be told he was not really moving up the depth chart in those days of powerhouse Crimson Tide football team.

But he has had an interesting life. He has been a model in the likes of Vogue and Playboy and an actor on broadway and in Hollywood and is now an author. For the past decade-plus, he has lived in India, where he met and married fashion designer Mily Pawar. His eco-thriller, "The Mad Horses of Matheran," has been both a critical and commerical success. He is also author and director of a play, "American Performances Pie...Slices of Richardson & Rothman," which is taken from his own works as well as those of Richard Rothman.

Richardson said he keeps up with Alabama listening to "Snake and Eli" on the internet.

And Gary offered a little tease at the end of his letter. He said when he returns to the United States later this summer to deal with New York literary agents, he'd like to find time to return to Tuscaloosa and perhaps write for 'BAMA Magazine. He will be welcomed.


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