Wife tenders solutions to ‘Joe’s’ title drought
By Steve Yingling & Tim Parsons
Tribune staff writers
STATELINE – Nine years have elapsed since former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver last won an American Century Championship.
And don’t think he hasn’t been reminded of that drought by his partner in life.
Sheila Tolliver gave Billy Joe a pep talk before he left for the 16th ACC, according to the 1996 champion.
It went something like this:
“My wife gave me the plan before I left: ‘Quit (screwing) up 18, stay off the sand, play the par-3s even, play the par-5s under par and don’t (screw) up the par-4s,’ ” Tolliver recalled. “What was I thinking all these years?”
Tolliver finished runner-up in 1998 and 1999 and took a two-point lead over Rick Rhoden, Dan Quinn and Mark Rypien into last year’s final round before settling for fourth place.
“She said, ‘Why do you waste all of your time playing golf if you don’t beat nobody?’ ” Tolliver said. “I’m the guy to beat; everybody beats me.”
He’s no ‘girlie man’
Comedian Kevin Nealon is the only full-time South Shore resident in the tournament. The character Franz, of the “Hans and Franz” bodybuilder duo on “Saturday Night Live,” may have been based on Nealon. When asked what kind of snow blower he owns, he said, “It’s called a shovel.”
Can you name the only father and son to play in the tournament? The answer is at the end of this story.
Thrill of the ice
It wasn’t a miracle, but the construction of an ice rink at South Lake Tahoe makes Mike Eruzione happy. The captain of the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 gold winning U.S. Olympic team contributed to the first city rink, which lasted only a couple of months in the winter of 1997.
“I’ve been coming here a long time and they’ve been promising it and now they got it done – finally.
“I think it’s beautiful. Anytime you can give kids an opportunity to play, whether it’s the women figure skaters or women hockey players or guys playing, it’s such an advantage.
Iron (and wood) men
The man who beat the Soviet Union with a game-winning goal in the Olympic semifinals has been coming to South Shore a long time. Eruzione is one of nine golfers who has played in all 16 Tahoe celebrity golf championships. The others: Dick Anderson, Steve Bartkowski, John Elway, Neil Lomax, Jim McMahon and Maury Povich.
Spectators should be prepared for hot weather this week. Tuesday’s high was 86 degrees, below the all-time record of 90 set in 2002. It will be 87 degrees today, according to National Weather Service in Reno.
Rick Barry played in the first three celebrity golf championships from 1990-1993 and his son Jon Barry played in 1994, 1996 and 2000.
Many of the quarterbacks entered in the ACC have found a way to spend more time with their sons – coaching football.
Neil Lomax and Billy Joe Tolliver are both serving as quarterback coaches for their sons’ football teams.
Lomax, who enjoyed a 10-year career in the NFL, has been coaching quarterbacks and receivers at Tigard High School in Portland, Ore. His son, Nick, graduated in the spring and has taken his talents to one of the country’s new quarterback factories – Boise State University.
“I have a couple more coming up and it’s a good time to see what I can do at the high school level,” Lomax said.
Tolliver, who player under center for six teams during his 12-year NFL career, is catching up on lost time working with his son Austin’s high school team in Shreveport, La. He is obviously helping out as a quarterback coach.
“I missed 12 years of their sports. It’s a lot of fun helping with the high school team,” he said.
But Tolliver isn’t satisfied with the effort of today’s high school athletes.
“They’ve been going like this (almost year-round) for quite a while now, but the only problem is that the kids don’t work as hard as we did when I was kid,” he said. “There is too much for them to do. It’s trying to get them to work like you have to work if you really want to be really good, that’s the challenge.”
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