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Joey Galloway, humorist.
No, sorry, that doesn't compute. I've had the opportunity to watch Joey Galloway, from afar and up close, since he arrived in Dallas in 2000. I lived in North Texas and covered plenty of Cowboys games before moving to Florida to cover the Buccaneers.
He's always been fast. He's developed into a tougher receiver than many gave him credit for coming out of Ohio State. He's even grown into the role of elder statesman with a dash of panache.
But funny? The last thing I've ever associated Galloway with is funny. He's always seemed to keep the media at arm's length, even during his tremendous 2005 season, one in which he should have been named to the Pro Bowl outright instead of as an alternate. Standoffish is a good word, too. Perhaps he's always felt a bit underappreciated, thanks to injuries and his quiet personality.
But earlier this week at Buccaneers training camp, Galloway put on a show. Not with his hands, but with his mouth.
Maybe he was in the corner taking notes when defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin went stand-up comedian on us after the Bucs took Gaines Adams in April's draft. Or that fountain of youth he's found has done a number on his head.
"You know I've gotten a heat problem if you ever hear me say I'd like to get more reps in the preseason," Galloway said after someone asked him if he or the team needed more preseason reps.
That comment drew raucous laughter from the media. Perhaps Galloway became infected by the audience response, like a method actor hooked on the catnip of his first starring role in a play. Because he got rolling after that, as he talked about how his lightened workload during training camp has helped his career.
"At 28 years old now, to finish seasons feeling pretty good, I'm excited about that," Galloway said.
By the way, Galloway is actually 35, a year older than me. Maybe he became delusional at that point, because he kept telling us he was 28. Someone actually did the math and asked Galloway if he started his NFL career at age 15, and Galloway answered, "Exactly." So now he can cut jokes and do improv.
This from a guy with enough salt in his facial hair that he'll never have to worry about getting carded at a club again.
"Eventually, probably when I reach my 30s, I may lose a step," he said, drawing more laughter. "Fortunately I've been blessed up until now. I feel terrific. As I enter my 13th camp, it feels just like the rest of them. I don't foresee losing a step yet. But when that does happen, I'll still be the fastest guy in this room."
Nothing ingratiates athletes to the media more than insulting us with a smile, and bonus points if you're able to take a jab at our relative lack of athletic ability. Though I am now intrigued by the idea of a 40-yard dash between Galloway and myself. I must admit I'm not in fighting trim. He may be at the finish line before I even leave the starting line.
Perhaps Galloway finally feels the respect he's been looking for. Two straight 1,000-yard seasons at ages 33 and 34 — excuse me, 26 and 27 — brings attention most receivers don't get at that age. Receivers in their mid-30s are on their way out, not on their way up like Galloway.
Perhaps Galloway's Arena Football team, the Columbus Destroyers, is keeping him young. A co-owner of the team, the Destroyers played in the AFL title game against San Jose on Sunday. He was excused to go to New Orleans and watch the game. He played the good soldier last season with all the quarterback upheaval, and he's the offense's top weapon, so let's keep him happy by all means.
Need to head to Barbados for a week, Joey? Have at it. Bring me back one of those little umbrellas from your tropical drink, will ya?
Or maybe he just appreciates it all more. He could be done right now. He's had more than enough injuries in his career to lead to an early retirement. Knowing you're playing on borrowed time might bring out a long-dormant sense of humor.
Or perhaps it's training camp. Galloway likes Celebration and Lake Buena Vista, but he doesn't LIKE them.
"Excited would not be the right word," Galloway said about arriving for training camp. "I get something. That something I get is the same when I show up to camp. I've been asked this question a few times and I've been searching for that word and I can't figure out what the word is, but excited probably isn't it. Believe me I'll be thinking of a few words tomorrow when we're out there practicing."
Training camp is pain, Galloway said, akin to going to the dentist — you know you're teeth are going to get fixed, but you still have to go through the pain. Thirteen years of doing it have taught him that. In a week his body will be a quivering mess, sore and worn out. You need a sense of humor to get through that.
"That's part of the game," Galloway said. "You have to love it while you complain about it."
And for Galloway, there's a lot to love right now.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Included among his more than two dozen writing and editing awards are national awards from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors, and state awards from the Florida Press Club and the Florida Sports Writers Association, for his coverage of the Buccaneers since 2004.