Monday, February 24, 2014

Heads Up, it's Aaron Hernandez!

Okay, no Aaron, just some Heads Up Quads from the Dennis package.  But these ones have nice patches, so ooooo.
This one's the sexiest card in my set so far (aside from my Seneca custom of first), featuring a very nice three color patch of Trevor Gaylor and a cool two color patch of Terrell Fletcher.  I've thought about trying to collect all patches for this set but they actually put a pretty expensive premium on some cards, especially the ones with HOFers or stars.  So I'll try to get as many cool patches as I can but for now I'll definitely appreciate cards like this!

Trevor Gaylor was a speedster in Madden 2004, and in many seasons he would turn into an All Pro WR1 thanks to his initial skill set.  That didn't happen in the pros, as his first two seasons resulted in 27 receptions for just 399 yards and 1 touchdown.  But with 10 of those catches and 162 of those yards coming in the final two games of 2001, it looked like he was on the up and up.  Gaylor went into 2002 battling for the third WR job in San Diego with Reche Caldwell and Tim Dwight, but lost it and was traded to the Falcons for a 7th round draft pick (used to draft lineman Shane Olivea).  Gaylor saw two spot starts in Atlanta due to a Shawn Jefferson injury and ended the 2002 season with 25 catches for 385 yards and 3 touchdowns.  And though that looked like progress, he would never play again in the NFL despite another year with the Falcons and a training camp stint with the Detroit Lions.

Terrell Fletcher was a 2nd round pick by the Chargers in 1995, and spent his entire career in San Diego.  He only had 14 starts but he played 111 games total, so he was always a change of pace type rather than a workhorse type.  He finished with 3,814 scrimmage yards and 13 total touchdowns, and is now married to Will Smith (aka the Fresh Prince)'s ex-wife.  He is also a Pastor.
Ronney Jenkins only had 10 offensive touches during his four year NFL career, for 6 yards total.  If you measure his career by those stats, it wasn't much, but he was actually signed as a kick returner, so it's not the whole story.  He was actually a very good RB/KR at BYU for two years, but he was suspended once and then expelled for violating BYU honor code which hurt his football career.  Jenkins went to Northern Arizona University and had a fantastic senior year, but he went undrafted.  The Chargers signed him in 2000 to return kicks, and he immediately contributed with 22.9 yards per return and a touchdown.  In 2001 he was even better, with a league leading 1,541 yards, league leading 2 touchdowns, and a league leading 26.6 yards per return.  He regressed in 2002 to a still nice 23.1 yards per return, but as the NFL is fickle and so San Diego released him after the season.  Oakland signed him and Jenkins had a decent 7 games with the Raiders, but he was released due to injury and never played in the NFL again (he did play a few seasons in the CFL).

Since being in the NFL, Jenkins was the feature of a recent article focusing on head trauma and CTE.  In it, Jenkins mentions some particularly dark aspects of his life following his time in the NFL, and it's actually a pretty good (if morbid) read.  I wish him the best of luck going forward and hopefully the experiences of former players like Jenkins will continue to send the NFL in the right direction safety-wise.

The final player on this card, Fred McCrary, was a 6th round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1995.  His 10 year fullback career is easily the longest of anyone on this card, though he almost lost it in early 1998.  The Saints had a rookie hazing incident where McCrary and others got violent and were punching, kicking, and hitting other rookies with a sock.  As a result the Saints cut the two year pro training camp, and he was forced to work as a correctional officer in a very violent prison because no team would sign him for the remainder of the season.  Certainly a dark time in his life, and McCrary probably thought he'd never get signed again.

In 1999, however, the Chargers gave him a chance, and it was one they wouldn't regret, as he started 54 of the next 64 games for the team at fullback.  Even though he was a FB, a position that rarely carries the ball, he actually carried 90 times for 509 yards and 6 yards over those 4 yards, good for 5.7 yards per carry.  Despite all that, the Chargers let him go in exchange for Lorenzo Neal, opting for better blocking (not that McCrary was a bad blocker, just that Neal was an outstanding one).  McCrary spent an injury plagued 2003 in New England where he won a Super Bowl ring before spending three years in Atlanta and a final season in Seattle.  Whether due to injuries or different playbooks, McCrary was never utilized heavily in an offensive role after leaving San Diego, as he accumulated just 63 yards over those final 5 years, but I'm sure he's happy he at least got a Super Bowl ring during that time.

Who wins the card?  This is a tough one outside of Gaylor.  Ronney Jenkins had the most statistical success (as in league leader-ness), McCrary had the longest tenure and won a Super Bowl, and Terrell Fletcher was probably the biggest fan favorite.  So it's kind of up in the air, but I'll give it to Fletcher in this case because it's so rare to see a guy stay with one team for so long in this day and age.

The other Heads Up Quad I got in this package was a RB quads card, meaning all four guys were from different teams.  I really dig this one and it has a patch too, though it's on the back.
Marcell Shipp is a guy I really cheered for coming out of collegem as he went to UMass (my home state woo!) so I wanted to see what he could do.  He actually went undrafted to the Saints in 2001, returning six kicks in his rookie year.  In 2002 he was given more time and ended up starting 6 games, resulting in 834 yards and 9 total touchdowns, which was fairly outstanding for an undrafted backup.  He was rewarded for his great season with the Cardinals signing Emmitt Smith, which made very little sense, but he still rushed for 830 yards despite having to share carries at times.

In 2004 Shipp suffered a serious injury and sadly never came all the way back.  He was still given 11 game starts in 2005, but could only garner 2.9 yards with them.  He was then a backup in 2006 and 2007, where he rushed for a cumulative 2.56 yards per carry.  Houston gave Shipp a look during training camp 2008, but he was released before the season began.

Jamal Anderson is the guy who originated "The Dirty Bird," which in and of itself is outstanding.  His NFL career was pretty remarkable though considering he was a 7th round pick in the 1994 draft.  After a decent first two years where he was given limited chances, Anderson was given the range in 1996 and responded with a thousand yard carry in just 12 starts.  He had another 1000 yard season in 1997 and then went absolutely nuts in 1998 with a league leading 410 carries for 1,846 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.  The Falcons made the Super Bowl, Anderson was on the top of the world, and the sky seemed the limit!

The next season Anderson became the poster child for running back overuse, as he was hurt after just two games and went on injured reserve.  He returned in 2000 and ran for 1,000 yards, but he was hurt again in 2001 and that became his final season.  Only an eight year career all told, but for a 7th round pick to become one of the most storied players in a franchise's history is pretty darn impressive in my eyes!

LaMont Jordan is the patch on this card, and my oh my is it a thick one!  It actually makes his side of the card bulge out and Marcel Shipp bulges out a bit on the other side too!  Jordan was drafted in the 2nd round in 2001 as the heir apparent to Curtis Martin in New York, and thanks to Curtis being just too good (seriously - he is one of the most underrated RBs of all time), Jordan played 62 games with 0 starts over his first four seasons.  Those four seasons included over 1,600 scrimmage yards and a YPC of 4.9, so Jordan was clearly good, but just needed a chance to show it.  So in 2005 he signed a five year 27.5 million dollar contract with the Oakland Raiders to become their workhorse of the future.  His YPC went down in 2005 (as expected since he was no longer the change of pace 3rd down guy), but it was still good and he ended up with over 1,000 yards rushing, 11 total touchdowns, and a RB leading 70 receptions.  Looking to continue that success in 2006, Jordan unfortunately tore his MCL halfway through the season and went to injured reserve.  In 2007 he started very strong but then hurt his back, resulting in Justin Fargas taking his job. The Raiders released Jordan and he was picked up by the Patriots for the 2008 season, where he rushed for a lovely 4.5 yards per carry in limited action.  The Patriots let him go after the season though, and he was given one last shot with the Broncos where he received just 25 carries as he finished his career.

The final guy on this card is Skip Hicks, who I remember as one of my first "good" cards.  I had an Upper Deck silver script parallel of him that I pulled from a pack, and I was sure it'd be worth millions someday.  He was a third round pick of the 1998 Redskins, chosen to replace the aging Terry Allen.  And Hicks was given time to show his stuff in his rookie season, with 5 starts and 122 carries over 9 games.  He had 8 touchdowns, but only 3.5 yards per carry and wasn't much of a factor in the receiving game, meaning Hicks didn't earn much of a leash with the Redskins.  In 1999 he was beaten out for the starting RB job by Stephen Davis, and Davis never looked back, becoming arguably even better than Allen. Hicks played 20 games over the next 2 seasons but only started 3 of them, and thanks to fewer touchdowns and an even lower 3.1 YPC he was let go after the 2000 season.  The Titans scooped him up, as this card shows, but while Hicks was able to muster a very nice 6.1 YPC in 9 games, he also got hurt and couldn't play the whole season.  He never gained another NFL statistic, but he definitely tried, as he was in a lot of training camps and had some nice success in NFL Europe while with the Cincinnati Bengals.  He was just the victim of other injuries and roster crunches, and so sadly Hicks never saw another down in the NFL.

Who wins the card?  Injuries affected this card a lot, and Jordan was definitely affected most of all.  If he had started from day 1 and never got hurt, maybe we're talking about LaMont Jordan in Canton.  But as things ended up, I think Jamal Anderson wins the card.  He helped the Falcons to the best year they've ever had and made up a cool dance...that's good enough for me!

1 comment:

  1. Trevor Gaylor was unstoppable in Madden. I remember we did a fantasy draft before doing a Madden tournament one time, then the first kickoff my friend returned it for a long TD with Gaylor. He said, "it must be a bug in the game." Once I found out about him, I then took him into my Franchise and made him my top receiver. Sadly he never panned out in the NFL.