Cards: Classic 1991, Action Packed Rookies 1991
Acquired: In Person 1991, 1992 Dallas Cowboys Training Camp
The fresh smell of the second training camp was still in the air and permanent fences still hadn’t been fully erected. Players didn’t always go up the alleyway and occasionally a poor soul would get swarmed by the masses like zombies to the fresh meat, when they came up the wrong way. Alvin Harper did exactly this the first time we got his autograph. He’d be one of our first victims that training camp on his abysmal looking Classic 1991 card. -Great pose however. He was a hell of a jumper. I also learned about trying to avoid getting autographs on glossy cards as with this card the autograph streaked a bit. Alvin Haper like David Anderson– loves to put a star for his “A”- but in this case it really makes sense because in a vain way because Alvin played for the Cowboys. Josh and I also met this guy who was crazy about meeting Harper the next year- and kept talking about how Harper was from a little town in Florida called Frostproof. He talked about it so much- I remembered it for this article without even looking it up!
Harper would be drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in their 1991 draft along with Russell Maryland. His rookie season would pass by uneventful enough stretching the field with 20 catches for 326 yards. Alvin’s 2nd and 3rd year would see proportionate increasing in his playing time, yardage, catches and touchdowns, to a point where in his 4th year- Harper would lead the NFL in average yards per catch with a sizzling 24.9 yards per catch. This would be the apex of his statistical career.
I really scratched my head because in 1995 he was the top free agent wide receiver on the market, and the Cowboys were not interested in resigning him. Harper would sign with the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were looking for his big play potential to stretch defenses. Harper was happy playing for bigger money closer to home in Frostproof. He was also courted by the Redskins and Chiefs. Things didn’t exactly pan out. Injuries and a bad offense didn’t help him and his career quickly fizzled out. Alvin would spend two seasons there, and then sign in 1997 with the Redskins and also the Saints. In his time with the Redskins though Harper found out about volunteer coaching through Howard University, and began that season. In 1998 he’d be out of football, but hoping to recapture some of that magic again signed with the Cowboys where he played one final season with them in 1999. Alvin has always kept one eye on the sport that he loves dearly- and played in the XFL for the Memphis Maniax in 2001, before retiring from the sport for good. Alvin kept coaching,- something that he truly enjoys and spent some time coaching receivers in the NFLE for the Rhein Fire in 2005. Harper was also officially hired on board by the Howard Bisons (whom he previously interned for) and in 2004 became the team’s offensive coordinator: A position he’s held into 2010.
Largely one could wonder how Harper would have fared if he stayed paired with Michael Irvin. Harper certainly had great tools and athleticism which the Cowboys really knew how to use, but he never quite fit the mold of a lead wide receiver that the Bucs and Redskins hoped he’d be. On a more humorous note, Alvin had a secret nickname- “Freaky Harp”, which I will leave it to you to figure out as he was banned from a Gentleman’s Club in Dallas for being in a phone booth, -and it wasn’t for making a phone call. Harper was also well represented on Tecmo Super Bowl Final Edition on Super Nintendo and was a real factor in the game… for the Buccaneers.
G/Gp 102/67 Rec 191 Yds 3473 Avg 18.2 Td 21 lg 90t