Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Who dat? Well, I'll tell you...

We say "Who dey?" in these parts, but to each their own.  Anyway, I picked up another Heads Up Quad recently, this one off of Ebay for a song, and figured I'd show it off.  It's the Saints team one, #21, and features one of my favorite turn of the millennium QBs.  So let's do this.
Horn is one of the craziest NFL success stories that I feel most people don't know about. The guy was an amazing athlete in high school, and as such he played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, AND punter for the team.  Yet when he graduated, his GPA and SAT scores were too low for Division 1 football, so instead he played two years of football in community college.  He was good there too, but he still didn't have good enough grades for a Division 1 school, and so after those two years he went and worked at a Bojangles restaurant.  NFL dreams seemingly squashed.

They were, at least, until Horn picked up a Jerry Rice workout video at Blockbuster almost two years later.  Horn did those workouts and sent tapes of him doing the workouts to teams all over the world, and the CFL came calling.  He bounced around a few teams before he reached the Memphis Mad Dogs, where he could finally show his stuff with over 70 catches for 1,400+ yards.  At this point he was 24 but the Kansas City Chiefs liked what they saw and made him a 5th round pick in the 1996 draft.

I actually remember Horn as a Chief thanks to NFL Quarterback Club '98 - he was one of the worst rated WRs in the game, probably due to the fact that he had 4 total receptions prior to the game's release.  He got better in his ensuing two seasons with the Chiefs, finishing with 35 receptions for 586 yards despite just 1 start in 1999, and the Chiefs let him walk in free agency.  The Saints snatched him up and the rest is history - 4 Pro Bowls, 523 receptions, 7,622 yards, and 50 touchdowns.  He stayed in New Orleans until 2006 and then had one final year in Atlanta before retiring from the league.  A very impressive career for a guy who couldn't even get a football job after graduating college.

Aaron Brooks is the QB I love, and his story is more typical of an NFL athlete, and his career is surprisingly shorter.  Brooks was drafted by the Packers as a QB to nurture under Brett Favre, and like many guys before and after him he ended up being a starting QB in the league.  After one year of third quarterbacking behind Favre and Matt Hasselbeck, Brooks and baggage went to the Saints for a 3rd round pick and baggage.  Brooks was expected to initially learn behind former Bengal Jeff Blake, but then Blake got hurt and Brooks was given the reigns...that he then never gave back.  Brooks started the next 82 games for the Saints over 6 years, only relinquishing QB duties when he was benched late in a disappointing 2005.  His best year was definitely 2003, where he threw 24 touchdowns vs. just 8 interceptions, but overall he was steady if not spectacular as a Saint, and held several Saints records before Drew Brees came along and broke them all.  Brooks was released following 2005, and spent a year battling Andrew Walter with the Raiders in 2006.  Brooks was 0-8 in his starts though, and when the Raiders let him go he never played again.  I still remember him fondly though.

Deuce McAllister...ahh what a guy.  His real name is Dulymus Jenod, which is a mouthful, so I understand why most people go with Deuce.  He was one of my brother's Madden 2004 guys, likely due to the fact that he was fantastic in the game following a career year with 1,641 rushing yards, 69 receptions, and 8 total touchdowns.  That season was one of two Pro Bowl seasons and one of four thousand yard seasons for Deuce, who was always a force when healthy.  The issues was that he wasn't always healthy, as he played a total of 8 games in the 2005 and 2007 seasons.  He spent the entirety of his 8 years career with the Saints, giving way to Reggie Bush and the stable system that the Saints now use every year.

Finally we come to Robert Wilson, who is the first guy on one of these cards who I legitimately don't recognize, by name or by face.  Turns out he is in Madden 2004 as a free agent, which is weird since 2001 was his final playing year.  The Seahawks signed him as an undrafted free agent in 1997, and he played a solid 18 games of special teams for them in 1998 and 1999.  In 2000 he was signed by the Saints, and he was voted their special teams player of the year, while also adding 154 yards receiving on 11 receptions, with 122 and 8 respectively coming in one game against the Denver Broncos.  He also started for the Saints in the playoffs with Horn injured, and scored his only NFL touchdown in a 31-28 wild card victory that was New Orleans' first playoff victory ever.

That momentum carried through to the 2001 season for Wilson.  He led the team in special team tackles with 10, and added a forced fumble.  He had 21 catches for 277 yards in the regular season.  He had shown special teams progress, he had shown receiving progress, and Willie Jackson was leaving for another team, so Wilson's spot seemed to be secure.  But the Saints went out and added Jerome Pathon and Jake Reed, drafted Donte' Stallworth, and promoted KR/PR Michael Lewis to a bigger role on the team.  With Horn still around as well, there just wasn't enough room for Wilson, and despite constant improvement he was not able to catch on with an NFL team again.

Who wins the card? As biased as I am about Brooks, and as biased as my brother would be about McAllister, my vote goes to Joe Horn.  The guy was a beast and his background story is a pretty neat one - I guess he's glad he bought that Jerry Rice video at Blockbuster!


  1. Joe Horn was the man. I had him on two or three of my fantasy teams. Deuce was decent too, but not in Horn's league. I'd round things out with Brooks and whoever the last guy is ;-)

    1. Haha poor Robert Wilson, unseated by veterans and never caught on again

  2. I see Joe Horn all the time down here in NOLA. We did technically sign him right before the Superbowl win so he got a ring. His BBQ sauce and cajun spice are widely available here in the south.

    1. Ooo that's awesome, I'll have to try his stuff someday!