Card: Classic 1993
Acquired: In Person, Houston Oilers training camp 1993
A nice little piece of trivia about the Herschel Walker trade was that it was so far reaching and the picks were traded around from team to team that Brad Hopkins who’s career lasted until 2006 was considered a by product of it. The Oilers offensive line was beginning to show signs of age, and with Dean Steinkuhler’s retirement at RT in 1991, the team had a dire need to shore up the offensive line. Brad Hopkins was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the first round of the 1993 draft. The choice was panned because of its relative lack of glamour and because Brad was the 3rd offensive tackle taken in the top 15. Hopkins would go on to start 11 games that season and gain all rookie honors in 1993, the final year of Houston’s dominance and the beginning of the fall of the Oiler franchise. After an all too familiar collapse in the playoffs against the Chiefs in the post-season, owner Bud Adams began to disassemble the Oilers by trading Warren Moon to Minnesota and the team would slide to an embarrassing 2-14 record in 1994. Hopkins would witness the fall of the franchise even further as Adams would be rebuffed by the city of Houston for a new stadium called the ‘Bud Dome’ and then quickly announce plans to move the team to the city of Nashville. In the midst of all this Hopkins would start all 16 games for the first time in 1995 continuing this streak through 1998 as the team had moved from the cavernous Astrodome to Memphis, Tennessee and the Oilers drafted both Steve McNair and Eddie George. In 1999 he’d start all 16 games again, while the Oilers finished their move to Nashville and a name change would take place with the team now becoming the Tennessee Titans. The team would go to the Superbowl that season, in the battle of traitorous owners as Tennessee would lose to St. Louis. Hopkins would go to the ProBowl in 2000 and also be named All Pro as well blocking for George. Again he’d find the ProBowl in 2003, and would retire in 2006 as the ‘final’ Houston Oiler still on the team roster with McNair already signed to the Baltimore Ravens. Hopkins was once memorably quoted when a correlative statistic came out that showed that NFL players were more prone to domestic violence than other sports as saying, “I’m not going to go home and trap block my wife.”
I got Brad’s autograph in 1993 while he was still a rookie at Houston Oilers training camp. Looking back I probably would have treasured his autograph more knowing he’d be the last Oiler.