Nashville, Tenn. - Former Tennessee State University star quarterback Joe Gilliam, Jr. was inducted posthumously into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame on Friday (2/20/09).
Gilliam becomes the 24th honoree affiliated with TSU athletics and the second father-son duo to be inducted. Gilliam joins his father, Joe Gilliam, Sr., who was inducted in 2007 accepting the honor on his behalf.
Known has "Jefferson Street" Joe Gilliam, the Nashville native played for the Tigers after graduating from Pearl High School. In his collegiate career, Gilliam played for the legendary "Big" John Merritt from 1969-'71 passing for a career 5, 213 yard (320-of-677) and 50 touchdowns leading TSU to back-to-back Black College National Championships in '70 and '71.
In 1972, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the 11th round. Gilliam made history in 1974 becoming the first African-American to open the season as the starting quarterback in the Steelers' opener against the Baltimore Colts.
In his four-year NFL career (1972-'76), he completed 44 percent (147-of-331) of his passes for a total 2, 103 yds (6.4 avg) and nine touchdowns.
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TSU Athletes, Coaches and Administrators Inducted in the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
1997 - Theodore McClain - (img)
1994 - *Ed Martin (img)
1992 - *Dr. Walter Davis - (athletic bio)
1989 - *"Big" John Merritt - (img)
1988 - Claude Humphrey (img)
1970 - Ralph Boston - (bio2)
1968 - *John (Rabbit) Barnhill - (img)