FALL FROM GRACE 

FALL FROM GRACE

The unexpected early success of the transplanted NBA Grizzlies has made it even easier than it would ordinarily be to forget about the late Memphis Maniax of the short-lived XFL. But those fans who maintain a memory of the Maniax will surely recall one of the players on whom the franchise set great store during its first and only season -- Barry Wilburn, technically a hasbeen, but, hey, one of of the handful of XFL tryouts who had once been a name and thereby might have lent the league some sorely needed credibility. Well, Wilburn's fate, according to an article in the current issue of the Washington City Paper, has been bleaker even than that of the now defunct league. In a word, he's serving time -- languishing in D.C. Jail while he waits trial for armed robbery. On August 29th, Wilburn, who in 1987, as a member of the Washington Redskins, led the whole NFL in interceptions, tried to intercept three strangers on Washington's New Hampshire Avenue while brandishing a firearm. He missed the pick. Humiliatingly, from the point of view of his former fame and his recent comeback effort, he couldn't even catch up with the three frightened civilians, who took to their heels in a successful attempt to escape him. Long and sad has been Wilburn's comedown from that glory year 14 seasons ago when he was declared one of the sparkplugs in the Redskins' last Super Bowl season. In the championship game against Denver, he made two key interceptions that killed off Bronco drives. Two years later, he had twice tested positive for cocaine, been suspended, and had committed other offenses against legitimacy -- a DUI conviction and an arrest for driving without a license. He was waived by the unforgiving Skins' management. After that, Wilburn drifted, the abortive Maniax stint being what amounted to his last stand. Sic transit gloria.

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