Ellard, Henry

sco94 ellardCard: Score 1994
Acquired: 2013, Trade via Sportscollectors.net
Failure: 2010, 2011, c/o The Jets

Henry Ellard is like many of the members of the Los Angeles Rams club of the late 80s that is a complete enigma to me when it comes to answering fanmail. Much like Kevin Greene, Greg Bell, and Flipper Anderson, there seems to be this unsaid code not to answer any autograph requests through the mail. While Ellard seems to boast the highest dismal answer rate between the 4, occasionally signing through whatever team he’s coaching with, I completely whiffed on him both in 2010 and 2011 via the Jets and Rams.

The Sportscollectors message board had a ‘free autographed cards’ deal where you give  your doubles out to needy fans in exchange for a future considerations, and since I was sitting on a small loot-splosion of them, it was time for me to hop in the pool. This allowed me to claim both Ellard- which I had direly wanted and another player. A pug ugly card, I definitely would have preferred to have gotten one of his earlier Pro Set or Action Packed entries signed instead of this Score ’94, but beggars can not be choosers.

A top flight receiver from Fresno State, Ellard, today, some 30 years later, still holds many of the school’s receiving records. His best year came in his Senior year when he posted 1495 yards and 15 TDs on 61 receptions. The 1983 draft was considered weak at the overall position however, and outside of Willie Gault going to the Bears, no other receiver was taken in round 1. The Rams grabbed future NFL rushing leader and record setter Eric Dickerson in round 1. Sweeping back around to their pick in round 2, they’d take Ellard off the board and plug him right into the lineup as the team’s punt returner. With Ferragamo and Kemp sharing most of the quarterbacking duties in the early years, it wasn’t until 1988, with the maturation of Jim Everett at quarterback, that Ellard broke the 1,000 yard plateau, but in the meantime he quickly cemented his status as a starter by his second season in 1984.   Ellard and the Rams were considered for a brief span the second best team in the NFL, but unfortunately that was always behind their sister team and city- The San Fransisco 49ers. He’d post a career and NFL high 1414 yards in 1988. It’d be the first of 4 1,000 yard seasons in a row for Henry, as the Rams climbed the ladder to the NFC championship game and then collapsed in 1991. Still Ellard along with Flipper Anderson provided a veritable deep threat to keep teams honest against the Rams rushing game. As the Rams fired Robinson after 1991, owner Georgia Frontiere brought in Chuck Knox to run the team. Coach Knox attempted to return the Rams back to a ground and pound offense. In his final season with the Rams in 1993, Ellard posted 945 yards on 61 catches and 2 touchdowns. Ellard was allowed to test the waters of free agency because the Rams felt at Henry’s age of 32, – that he was old and the team needed to go in another direction.

When former Rams offensive guru Norv Turner came calling, he knew what a bargain he was getting in the starting caliber ability of Henry Ellard. The Redskins plugged him right into the starting lineup and Ellard responded by rattling off 3 more consecutive 1,000 yard seasons catching passes from the likes of Heath Shuler, John Friesz, Gus Frerote, Jeff Hostetler, and Trent Green. He retired with the New England Patriots after the 1998 season and 16 seasons.

He has jumped into coaching, where he has remained since with stops with his Alma Mater- Fresno State, the St. Louis Rams, the New York Jets, and as of 2012 with the New Orleans Saints. Considered by many of the NFL’s elite defensive backs of that age to be one of the greatest receivers they ever faced, Ellard is long overdue for the recognition that he deserves.  He remains critically underrated by both the media and voters despite his career numbers and the respect he garnered from his peers.

G/Gs 228/199     Rec 814    Yds 13,777     Avg 16.9      Td 65      Lg 81t
Kr  19       Yds 364       Avg 19.2     Td 0       Lg  44
Pr  135    Yds 1627     Avg  11.3     Td  4      Lg  83t