Again, a Joe Gilliam comeback. The former NFL passer who fell out with the semipro Pittsburgh Wolf Pak this summer surface with the Toronto Grizzlies of the semipro Atlantic Coast League . . . But, never, at quarterback for U. of Nevada-Las Vegas we find Carlton Kelley, 1963 Los Angeles schoolboy player of year who, it's said, later pitched in the St. Louis Cardinal baseball chain several years, then an L.A. area policeman. Now a student strippling of 33 . . . And here's Gordie Howe, 50, heading into his 31st year as an active hockey player; begins workouts Sunday with the WHA's New England Whalers. Mayhap he'll skate against the Caps in exhibition opener later this month, tuning up for a campaign in which his first goal or assist will be point No. 2,500 of his career.

Top local amateurs will be featured in the Potomac Valley AAU's three-day boxing and weightlifting exhibition at Capital Centre's Sport Show today through Sunday . . . Andrew Young, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., nominated Muhammad Ali on fight's eve for the International Award for Valour in Sport, a prestigious annual award of London's Victoria Sporting Club . . . Quick (?) fix: Sure, we saw the picture of Leon Spinks' latest dental gap after picking up the erroneous "eyetooth" designation - then realized it was a lateral incisor, not the "eye" or canine tooth, he had pulled last week. Sorry.

Believe it or not: The N.J. Nets are in the hunt to land Bill Walton - who currently works out by laying his crutches aside in Egypt, within dribbling distance of the Sphinx, to sit in on drums with his buddies The Grateful Dead.