This was my first shot at a Hall of Fame bronze and, frankly, I had no idea what I was doing. None.
Twenty-two years ago, I hadn't developed the sophisticated system that marks my work today — no videotaping sessions, no series of photographs, no measuring the subjects with calipers at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
Working from a few photos, I did the best I could shaping the image of the legendary coach who had stalked the sideline for the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers and Houston Oilers. Gillman, whose record was 123-104-7 during 18 seasons, was the first coach to win division titles in both the NFL and the AFL.
He was not exactly thrilled when I pulled the cover off the first clay draft.
"Get that thing off me!" Gillman demanded, pointing to the narrow necktie, circa 1960.
In fact, Gillman said, he didn't own a single conventional necktie. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a bow tie. He was wearing a golf shirt — not exactly approved sideline fashion — but he tied it around the collar, and I took some pictures and began refashioning the clay.
After that initial outburst, Gillman was an engaging guy. We talked football for a few hours. His technical knowledge of the game was, even to an old college running back such as myself, extensive.
In the final version, Gillman has the look of an engaged coach, with a furrowed brow and pursed lips, sporting sort of a half-smile. The bow tie is properly jaunty — the only thing missing is the golf shirt.