Holmes, Clayton

Card: Topps Stadium Club 1992
Acquired: In Person 1993, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp

Clayton Holmes’ story is a tragic and cautious tale. A 3rd round pick out of tiny Carson-Newman in 1992, Holmes went from rags to riches in the matter of days. (An amazing athlete, it was reputed that Holmes ran a 4.29 in the 40.) After an acceptable rookie season, where he was second on the team in special teams tackles and forced a fumble in the SuperBowl, it appeared that things were on the up and up for the young defensive back. Unfortunately, during the 1993 preseason he sustained a season ending injury and began to spend money and abuse drugs and alcohol at an unusual rate and he was suspended multiple times for cocaine abuse. He’d pick up some spot kick and punt return duty in his final two seasons with the Cowboys before his release in 1995. It is said that his multiple run ins with the league over his off the field problems coupled by his injuries lead to his release. He was contacted by his former coach Jimmy Johnson (who was now coaching in Miami)  and asked Holmes if he was clean. Holmes, insisted he was and was signed by the Dolphins, but subsequently was suspended for a year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Dolphins waived Clayton- without him ever playing a down for the team. Johnson stated openly that he worried about Clayton and his future. Holmes would play some minor league indoor football for the Topeka Knights of the IFL before finally retiring from football and dropping off the face of the Earth.

In 1998 Clayton tragically tried to commit suicide, and in the end returned to his hometown of Florence, SC where he lives in a trailer with no running water or electricity behind his parents house. He writes in his notebook and longs to move to Washington DC where he can enter into Scientology and find his true purpose in life. He makes no excuses for his mistakes, but laments about the fact that he is unable to keep young athletes from following him down his path.

I got Clayton’s autograph in 1993, with the Cowboys at St. Edwards. He had a beaming smile and you could tell he was so happy to be there. Clayton was so full of life, and he couldn’t turn down an autograph request, signing as many as he could. He was a kid, and I felt in that brief moment we were much alike. It’s sad how far Holmes has fallen. I can not pass judgement so harshly on such a man and hope only for the best for Clayton Holmes. Below are his statistics and a  link to an ESPN Page2 story on his struggles since football.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=pearlman/080110&sportCat=nfl

G/Gs 39/7    Tac 35      Sac 0    Fum 2    Int 1    Yds 3    Avg 3.0    Td 0   Lg 3