Class of 2018
Bill Glennon grew up in Billings as the oldest of nine children born to Bill and Joyce Glennon.
And what a role model he was.
“Let me tell you about Bill Glennon,” said Bill Sprinkle of Helena, a former teammate on the University of Washington Huskies who was a lifelong friend. “He was a guy you would call a very prideful person, and a tremendous, tremendous competitor. He wouldn’t be denied. Ever He had the ultimate faith in himself.
“Bill Glennon was loyal to his family and loyal to all his teammates. I loved the guy.”
Glennon, who died in 1993 of brain cancer, was a 1964 graduate of Billings Central Catholic High School. He played many sports there, excelling in all of them.
“He was a very good high school athlete, all-state in football and basketball and a catcher for those great American Legion baseball teams,” Sprinkle said. “He caught Les Rohr (a southpaw drafted second overall in the 1965 draft by the New York Mets) and some of those other good Billings pitchers.
Childhood friend, Ed Garding, said, "one thing we learned about disputes around any of the schools in Billings that involved a Glennon, was that it was going to be resolved in the yard at the Glennon home on Broadwater Avenue."
“In 1964 Bill and I went to Washington together, said Sprinkle, he became my best friend there and for many, many years afterward.”
Sprinkle was a star running back and safety from Great Falls Central. Glennon was a brawling defensive end.
Glennon became an all-Pac 8 defensive end and was drafted in the seventh round by coach Chuck Noll’s Pittsburgh Steelers in 1968.
The Steelers moved him to the offensive line, then in 1969 traded Glennon to the Washington Redskins. The Redskins were coached that year by Vince Lombardi, who moved Glennon back to defensive end.
“The Steelers liked him, but moving to the offensive line was a big change for him,” Sprinkle said. “When he was with coach Lombardi, they kept their No. 1 draft choice instead of Bill.
“The Redskins had contacts with teams in Canada, and eventually Bill went to Montreal to play with the Alouettes, then to Winnipeg and the Blue Bombers.”
Glennon retired in the early 19702 and worked for several years in Colstrip as a pipe fitter. In the mid-1980s he moved his family to Las Vegas, where Bill managed a truck dealership.
All the while, Glennon and Sprinkle were buddies.
“I’d been in his wedding and he was in mine,” said Sprinkle, who lives now in Helena. “It was a tragic thing when he got sick.”
Glennon and his wife, Patti, had daughters Angela and Lizzie. It’s expected that 75 or more relatives will be in attendance as Bill is inducted into the Montana Football Hall of Fame.
“He’s very deserving,” Sprinkle said. “I’m really, really excited and I’m going to be very, very proud to speak on his behalf.”
What made Glennon such a good football player?
“He was about 6-3 and 250 or 260 pounds,” Sprinkle said. “And he was tough. I mean tough. If you were the captain of some team – any team – and you were picking teams, you’d pick him. He was ornery and he was tough.”
Sprinkle said there were All-Americans and future high NFL draft picks on the Washington Husky roster in those days, but none had anything on Bill Glennon.
“Bill had a different demeanor. People feared him,” Sprinkle said. “he had great respect by all the Washington players. And from the (USC) Trojans and (UCLA) Bruins and everybody else we played. Bill was very aggressive and knew how to handle himself. On the field and on the street.”
Glennon never missed a game.
“He was never hurt. Never ever,” Sprinkle said. “One time I remember he pulled a hamstring and just played with it. He was one of those guys who was going to whip you one way or another.”
Cancer, of course, is a difficult foe. Sprinkle misses is old friend.
“Oh my God, yes I do,” Sprinkle said. “He was certainly one of my best friends. We went through a lot of stuff together at Washington and beyond that. We just bonded. His parents were like a Mom and Dad to me, because I went to Billings a lot after my mother moved away from Great Falls.
“I miss Bill Glennon a lot.”