No sooner had Boomer Esiason pulled on his golf attire than a Turf Valley Country Club manager said there were two girls outside who wanted his autograph.
Sure. People fawn over him and pull and tug, especially now that he is a star of commercials. In part, it is Esiason's warm personality that has brought him wealth off the field as well as on it.
"The attention shows that people like you and remember where you came from," he said.
Esiason came from the University of Maryland, and he has not forgotten that. He popped into town yesterday to play in the charity golf tournament to which Terps coach Joe Krivak has lent his name. He then headed for Westminster to visit his wife Cheryl's mother.
"We've kept in touch with Boomer over the years," Krivak said. "He's always been supportive of Maryland, doing all he could to help. That's his way of paying back."
Boomer made a large donation to the Byrd Stadium renovation fund. He appears regularly at varsity football banquets and at Krivak's summer football camps, attends an occasional Terps basketball game (receiving resounding applause when he is introduced) and is a frequent participant in golf tournaments at Maryland staged to raise money for families of policemen killed in the line of duty.
Proceeds of yesterday's event are designated for "The Door," former Colt Joe Ehrmann's non-profit organization that helps inner-city children and their families, and for the fund that is supplying money for the renovation of Byrd Stadium.
As he usually does, Esiason will spend a few days at Krivak's camp June 23-27. He talks about more than quarterbacking, according to assistant coach Jeff Mann. He also speaks to the youngsters about the evils of drugs and alcohol.
"It's never wise to forget where you started," said Esiason, who gave the Terps several distinguished seasons in the early 1980s. "So many things go into making a successful athlete. The coach, the support staff and the secretaries were all part of my success. It would be unbecoming for me not to remember that."
Boomer's role in a Diet Coke commercial known as Goldilocks and the Three Bears launched him to stardom in that field in 1989. He calls it his "coming out party."
He has done four more Diet Coke spots since then, plus others for Wheaties, Reebok and Hanes underwear. He has been on numerous talk shows and soap operas.
"I've been fortunate," he said. "It snowballed. If you do one good commercial as part of a national campaign, with speaking lines, a lot of companies use you."
About 150 friends of Maryland athletics turned out for yesterday's event. One of them, Terps quarterbacks coach Jerry Eisaman, recalled that Boomer wasn't particularly impressive when he returned to school for his sophomore year.
"He wasn't in good shape," Eisaman said, chuckling. "He couldn't run his 40-yard sprints. It wasn't lack of maturity. He was plain out of shape. So we redshirted him."
Ernie Accorsi, the Cleveland Browns' general manager, had just joined that organization in March of 1984, the month before the NFL draft in which Esiason was selected in the second round.
"We had a first-round pick and I would have taken him, but Sam Rutigliano was calling the draft shots then," Accorsi said. "No question he was a first-rounder. He's a competitor and a winner, has a good arm and he's smart. I wish he wasn't in our division."
Now the Browns have to face Boomer twice a year.