browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.
Our Great American Adventure Website Logo

“Sticky Fingers Fred”

Posted by on June 11, 2016


NEXT IN MY “BOOK-SIGNING SERIES.” This is next in the series about notable clients I’ve raiders represented during my 34 years-long career as a litigation attorney. These were clients who’s stories I’ve selected to appear in separate chapters of the book I’m writing about “My Life in Court.” When I introduced you to this series recently I didn’t anticipate posting to it frequently. Although their stories are just tangentially related to our motorhome travel across America they are still part of the journey. Accordingly, this morning when I read a “Sports Illustrated” magazine article which mentioned Fred, I couldn’t couldn’t resist the temptation to reminisce. Now…enough about my blog. Let’s begin today’s story.

WHO IN THE WORLD IS “STICKY FINGERS FRED?” Sports fans already know the answer to this rhetorical question. But for those of you who are not football fans, “keep reading.” I promise you’ll enjoy this post. Trust me. Have I ever misled you? Of course not!

HE’S A VERY FAMOUS GUY, THAT’S WHO. Fred Biletnikoff is one of the most famous football players ever to play the game. A member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football of Fame, he’s remembered as the best wide receiver of all time. He almost never dropped the football, thus his nickname of “Sticky Fingers Fred.” Here’s a video clip of Fred describing his gridiron career.


I CAN’T DESCRIBE HIS CAREER BETTER THAN HE DOES. But I can recount a few details of our first meeting in my office, my appearances in Court with him and my impressions I reached during the time I represented him.


Ken Stabler. Fred was his “go to guy” on the football field.

BUT I CAN OFFER MY IMPRESSIONS AND EXPERIENCES. Fred was referred by an attorney who knew that he should be represented by a Family Law Specialist. In California, an attorney is prohibited from referring to himself as a “specialist” unless licensed to do so by the California Bar Association. And to earn that license an applicant must provide written endorsements from attorneys and Superior Court Judges attesting to his legal ability. Additionally, the applicant must pass a day-long written examination in Family Law, almost as challenging as the bar exam itself.  Consequently, when other attorneys referred cases to me I was flattered. Those referrals meant that my skills and experience were well-known in the legal community. We all like compliments, don’s we?


My friend Fred Biletnikoff.

MY FIRST MEETING WITH FRED. When my secretary told me she’d made an appointment for Fred’s initial office conference, I was excited about the prospect of meeting him. I was also aware that I didn’t know much about the man beyond his reputation as a good ballplayer. I decided I’d better do a little research, in order to avoid seeming uninformed when the big day arrived. So I read the book “Snake” written by renegade quarterback Ken Stabler, in which he recounted stories about how he and Freddie worked together as passer and receiver for the Oakland Raiders Franchise. After reading the book, I was able to “talk shop” a bit when I met Fred in my office for the first time.

IMPRESSIONS.  At that time, I’d never personally met a professional football player. So I really didn’t know what to expect.  Fred was tall and slender…I guess he didn’t want to carry any more weight than necessary, so he could run really fast and avoid all those defensive players chasing after him as he headed for the goal line. His handshake was firm, but not what I’d expected from pro ball player. I think his hands were a little like those of a pianist…designed to be precise and sensitive.


A much younger Fred.

HE’S A KIND AND THOUGHTFUL MAN.  Fred’s reputation as a “good guy” was in stark contrast to his Oakland Raider team’s well-deserved reputation as aggressive, mean and bruising. No, Fred just wasn’t that way. An example was when Christmas was approaching and I was wondering what present my son would really enjoy. I mean really enjoy! Brad was an avid Raider’s fan. I decided that if I could get him a game ball autographed by all the Raider’s players I’d be a hero. So I called Fred on the phone. I told him I’d decided an autographed Raider’s game ball would be the perfect gift. Before I could hardly announce my hope that he could arrange it, Freddie was already offering to get a game ball for me. He put a football in the team’s locker room with a note asking all the guys to sign it. The did and I got the ball. When I gave it to Brad, he was ecstatic. I’ll never forget the look on Brad’s face that Christmas morning when he opened the present.


Biletnikoff at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A PERSONAL TRAGEDY. About seventeen years ago, Fred called me out of the blue one day. He’d called to tell me that his that  his daughter Tracy had been murdered. I was speechless. I’m not usually at a loss for words. I spent 34 years as “a word merchant” selling words for a living. I was trained to think on my feet and respond to judges’ questions to me in court. A trial lawyer doesn’t get much advance notice of unforeseen developments in the courtroom. But on the occasion of this telephone call, all I could think about was, “Why has this awful event happened to such a well-loved kind man? It’s not fair!” And about all I can recall saying was, “Fred, I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine the grief you’re experiencing.” So, to those of you reading this blog post: take a moment to follow the link in this paragraph. You’ll be directed to an article published this past February. It details this horrible tragedy and how Fred has coped.

I’LL CONCLUDE ON A HAPPIER NOTE. But during happier times, I had a funny experience while still representing Fred. I’ll relate it tofred4 you in order to end this post on a happy note. Fred would approve. Although many years ago, I still remember this particular court appearance. When Fred and I walked into the Courthouse and passed through the metal detector, all eyes fell on him. Everyone knew who he was. Some just stared. Others asked for his autograph.

And later, after our case was heard in Department 3 before Judge Tom Ashworth, he announced a recess and asked Fred and me to come to his chambers. The Judge didn’t want to discuss legal matters at all. No, he wanted to chat with Fred  the Raiders, the team’s owner Al Davis and other “football stuff.” So the two of them “smoked and joked” for about a half hour. Afterward, as we left and walked through the courtroom headed back to my office, all eyes were again on Fred. I could just imagine what all those other litigants thought was happening. “Maybe the Judge talks to all the litigants in chambers” I overheard one court-watcher remark. “No, that’s not what happens here” I thought to myself as we passed the guy and exited the courtroom. No, it was just a judge talking with a one of his sports idols about a sport they both loved.

AND FINALLY, A PREVIOUSLY UNMENTIONED TIDBIT OF INFORMATION ABOUT US. People we meet often tell us how much they enjoy reading our blog and “following us as we explore America.” That always puts a smile on my face because I love writing and I particularly love writing this blog.


As a  Raiders Coach after playing for the team many years.

And sometimes we’re even greeted by travelers who “just happen” to be staying at the same RV resort where we’re parked. For the longest time I simply couldn’t figure out how these folks were “finding us.”They couldn’t just be walking around the resort on the off-chance they’d happen to spot us, could they? The answer is yes.  Take a look at the website called RV Village.

I also get emails from perfect strangers, even in foreign countries. I had an especially meaningful message in March from an Army officer stationed in Afghanistan. He’d read of the dread disease I’d suffered and wanted to wish me a speedy recovery. He also stated that, “You’re a true patriot, Greg.” Initially I didn’t understand that part of his message. And then I remembered that I’ve got several pages on this blog devoted to my feelings about patriotism. I even got a message last week from a guy who lives in Peru! Turns out we went to the same surfing beaches many years ago, he’d remembered my name and found me one day while surfing the internet.

I really enjoy hearing from you guys so please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m always quick to respond. And you can subscribe to my blog right now while you’re here. I think you’ll enjoy getting notified each time I publish a new post. Join hundreds of other subscribers who already do so.


New Image  



Comments are closed.