Thursday, February 6, 2014

Photobucket delivers the goods once again!

I don't check it often, but every now and then I'll glance at Photobucket to see if anyone has posted some of the sweetest cards in their collection.  A lot of times they do, those cards just don't tend to be the guys I collect.  But sometimes they are, and here's one such case!

I found this one guy who had a few Pacific Heads Up Quads that I needed.  I glanced around his other stuff and found he had an autographs for trade bucket that just happened to have a Shyrone Stith auto I needed as well - such luck!  So I found a place to message him (in this case the Sports Card Forum) and offered the deal.  After messaging a few proposals back and forth we found something that worked for both of us, and I ended up getting all three cards I wanted!

The Stith will come first - it's the autographed parallel of his Press Pass card.  I actually owned this one way back in the day but it since left my collection.  Good to have it back, and still weird that it appears to be signed in true pen instead of some kind of funky:
Nice cert as always.  I'm gonna pass on the complete set though Press Pass, just need the Stith!  Thanks for the encouragement though!

The quads both had a little more variation than my other recent acquisition, plus they had my first patch, so I was very excited!  The first one is a card of four tight ends, with the front featuring a two color patch of Aaron Shea and a single color swatch of David Sloan:
Aaron Shea is one of TMY/TMM's Michigan guys, and he was more of an H back type than a pure tight end, but I remember him pretty well as a Brown.  He was one of the reboot team's original draft picks (4th round) and hung around until 2005 before a victory lap with the 2006 Chargers.  97 catches for 851 yards and 7 touchdowns encompassed his entire career, which may be a single season for Jimmy Graham but really is nothing to scoff at in the mid 00's NFL, especially with how bad the Browns quarterbacks were in his tenure.

Sloan was drafted by the Lions in 1995, and hung out there until 2001 when the Saints signed him, as noted on this card.  This is the first instance of that note on one of the cards in my collection and I love it, tight end ON THE MOVE!  His career stats about doubled Shea's, thanks mostly to his Lions tenure which included a 2000 Pro Bowl nod and a 2001 Pro Bowl alternate nomination.  The Pro Bowl thing was especially neat because he was the 7th drafted TE in 1995 so it's kind of awesome for him to overcome that draft placement and make something of himself.
The back features Pete Mitchell on his way from the Giants to the Jaguars, as well as Pittsburgh legend Mark Bruener.  Mitchell actually was drafted in the Jaguars inaugural draft and when he signed with them in 2002 it was the final year of his career, so that was kind of a nice touch.  It's weird he's a Giant on the card and for the jersey because in 2001 he was actually a Detroit Lion.  He was definitely most successful with the Giants though with a 1999 season featuring 58 receptions for 520 yards, so I guess the uniform is pretty perfect after all.

Bruener seems like he was in Pittsburgh forever (I guess 1995-2003 is a pretty long time), and though he was mostly a blocking TE he was well liked for his grit and knack for touchdowns.  The Texans signed him in 2004 and he stayed in Houston until 2008 when he finally retired.  Bruener ended with less yards than Sloan and Mitchell for his entire career, but had the most touchdowns and I'd argue the most successful career of any of these guys.  He is now a scout for the Steelers.

Who wins the card?  This is a tough one.  For me personally it's Aaron Shea, statistically it's probably Sloan given his Pro Bowl visit, and fanwise it's probably Bruener since he was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh.  I'll give this to Shea since it's my blog.

This other card is the card that actually first introduced me to the 2002 Pacific Heads Up Quads set.  It's a FB quad and features Stanley Pritchett and 2004 Madden favorite Chris Hetherington on it (and Hetherington even has a smidgen of two's the tiniest of blue pieces):
Now I have to start with Hetherington, because this is basically his card to me.  I mostly liked him in Madden for his very official sounding name, which is doubly awesome because it is paired with his college - Yale.  He was actually a pretty decent college QB at Yale (he also played baseball there) and graduated in 1995 holding numerous school passing records.  Of course being good at football at Yale doesn't mean much in the NFL, so Hetherington's entrance to the NFL came as an undrafted free agent for the 1996 Cincinnati Bengals.  He then bounced around to the Colts (whose roster I actually initially found him on in NFL Quarterback Club 1998 for the N64), to the Panthers, to the Rams, to the Raiders, and finally to the 49ers.  Overall he had a ten year career consisting of 33 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns (23 and both TDs came in 2000 with the Panthers) and 50 catches for 319 yards and a touchdown (23 and the TD came in 2001 with the Panthers).  What's craziest is he spent time with a bunch of teams that made it to the Super Bowl in the 00's, just never at the right time.  He was in Carolina too early and Oakland and St. Louis too late.

Just because he's not Hetherington doesn't mean Pritchett isn't awesome.  I've always had a thing for fullbacks anyways, I always loved them because they got no love since they didn't produce numbers for themselves, and Pritchett is also one of the first football cards I remember owning so he's doubly cool for that.  He spent several years with the Dolphins before one season with the 2000 Eagles, and later moved to Chicago before ending his career with the 2004 Falcons.  This is another instance of Pacific having a picture of a guy in a team he hadn't been with for years, but I see now that they always wanted the jersey piece and image to match, which is actually respectable.  Speaking of respectable, Pritchett's rookie year with the Dolphins included 33 catches for a 10.7 average and two touchdowns, which is actually very nice for a fullback IMHO.  He would never really touch that kind of success again though, though he did score 13 total touchdowns including another four receiving in 1999.

The back features a third guy on the move in Frank Moreau and the only guy who stayed with the same team, Jim Kleinsasser.  I gotta say by the way that I love the color variety of this card, with black (with a hint of blue), green, red, and purple really varying up the swatches.
Moreau is one of those guys that never would've had a jersey card without Pacific's help (he's also not really a fullback even though the other guys on this card are, but whatever).  His first three years of college were nothing special, but in his senior year at Louisville he went off for 17 touchdowns and 1,289 rushing yards.  That encouraged the Chiefs to draft him in the 4th round of the 2000 draft, and he actually led the team in rushing touchdowns with 4 during his rookie year (this was a dark time for the Chiefs running game, as Donnell Bennett and Mike Cloud also scored touchdowns).  Moreau scored these touchdowns though while also only supplying 2.7 yards per carry, so he was gone when the season ended.  The Jaguars picked him up following an injury to star halfback Fred Taylor, and though Stacey Mack and Elvis Joseph got the bulk of the carries Moreau was able to vulture a fourth career touchdown AND a technical game start (he was the first back on the field even though Joseph had more carries in the game) in his three total games.  Pretty impressive I think.

Well anyways despite that madness, Jacksonville cut him at season's end.  And the Texans brought him to training camp on a contract but he didn't make the regular season roster, which is where his NFL career ends.  But Pacific must've had a Moreau jersey or two from 2000 to blow through, so they made six different jersey cards for Moreau in 2002 and just said he was moving to the Texans (which at the time was probably technically true).  One even has the Texans logo for the jersey window, which is pretty neat, albeit a bit weird.

We finally get to the most technically successful FB on this list, Jimmy Kleinsasser.  He actually is kind of like the first Quad guy I mentioned in this post, Aaron Shea, as Kleinsasser also was more of an H back type guy who was in the backfield as often as he was on the line of scrimmage.  When people think of celebrated FB's today they tend to think of John Kuhn of the Packers, but I think Kleinsasser was the first guy I really remember standing out as a fan favorite at the unheralded position of FB.  Kleinsasser played every one of his seasons with the Vikings from 1999 to 2011, and was known for his good blocking and durability, and he finished his career ranked 2nd in career starts and 4th in catches by a TE in Vikings history.  So think Aaron Shea + Mark Bruener + John Kuhn and you basically have Jimmy Kleinsasser.  Though I think you need to add a sweet beard too.

One last cool fact on Kleinsasser that I didn't know prior to Wikipedia...he's from North Dakota and actually went to the University of North Dakota for college.  Pretty remarkable he was able to get drafted (second round too!) given his lack of pedigree, and even more remarkable that he hung around so long afterwards.  I guess that's the story for a lot of the guys on the two Quad cards in this post though - not a lot of glory, but a lot of persistence and grit that mostly paid off in terms of substantial NFL careers.

Who wins the card?  Technically Kleinsasser, but since he's one of the prime reasons for me collecting this set I'm picking Chris Hetherington in an upset.

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