Football game to benefit officers

Annapolis: Teams made up of many in law enforcement raised about $15,000 to help families of two who died in traffic accidents.

November 16, 2003|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

After his team escaped with a one-point win yesterday, Jeff Golas savored the victory.

"This was a statement game for us," said the offensive lineman for the Anne Arundel Admirals, who defeated the Jersey Shore Jackals, 7-6, in Annapolis.

But then Golas, who is also an Anne Arundel County police officer, acknowledged that it didn't matter if his football team had won or not because the game raised at least $15,000 for the families of two police officers who died in traffic accidents in the past year.

"It was a way for my team to give back," Golas said.

Shane Evans, a six-year-veteran of the Annapolis police force, was killed in September when a driver pulled in front of him, causing him to crash his motorcycle on Route 32 in Sykesville. And John J. Heidenberg, an Anne Arundel County police detective, died in late May when he crashed his pickup truck near his home in Mechanicsville.

The families of both men were at the game, held at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but declined to comment.

Some of the Admirals, a semiprofessional team that practices two times a week, are police officers, and many have been planning the game since Heidenberg's death. The Jackals, a semipro team in Ocean County, N.J., also have several law-enforcement officers on their roster.

The event had to be pushed back several times because of scheduling conflicts, and even yesterday's intended opponent, a team that includes several New York Police Department officers, had to back out at the last minute.

But the Jackals were glad to fill in on short notice, said quarterback Tom Zirino, an officer with the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"We've been hearing about the game for months," Zirino said. "Anything we could do to help, we would."

It was an exhibition game for both teams, and play was marred by dropped passes, offside penalties and 15-yard punts. "We weren't sharp," Golas said.

But players said they were more concerned about paying tribute to the dead officers and box-office receipts. Because neither Evans nor Heidenberg died on the job, their families would probably receive less insurance money and benefits, officers said.

"The families of two officers needed to get something," said Ron Gamble, an Anne Arundel County police officer who plays defensive tackle.

Players from both teams shook hands after the game and then knelt in a circle to remember Evans and Heidenberg.

"We're all one family here, and we have to look out for each other," said Mike Harris, an Anne Arundel sheriff's deputy. "One week, it could very well be my family that's without me."

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