Cards: UT Upper Deck 2011, UT Upper Deck 2011 All-Time Alumni, Leaf Rookies & Stars 2004, Playoff Contenders 2001, 2002, 2004, SP 1999, SP 2004 Authentic Materials, TNT 2013 Greats.
Acquired: In Person 2013, GMC NFL Texas Tour (October & November)
The GMC NFL Texas event in October was a big success for me. I was able to get plenty of big names with minimal effort, knocking them off my set needs. Priest Holmes was the first to arrive on Saturday, and there was just about zero people in line. This made for a great and more personable experience with Priest, since he could spend more time with each and every fan. When I got up to him, I requested the two UT cards, a photo for myself, and two personalized photos for my collecting friends. When I told Priest that it seemed like a lot and apologized, emphasizing that I am not an EBayer, he kindly said, “Anything for a fan.” Priest has been doing a lot of analyst work for The Longhorn Network. He had been doing signings in Dallas and San Antonio, but nothing around Austin. It had begun to work me up into a frenzy to get him. In fact we talked about his work on LHN, and about him covering Ricky Williams statue unveiling that we both attended.
At the November event I had properly reloaded for Priest’s appearance with a boat load of cards. I test drove all morning so that I could get as many autographs I needed. To be courteous to other people in line, I only got 6 the first time around and asked if I could come back through. Again, Priest was gracious and threw in an autographed photo for being so thoughtful. I came through again and presented a second group of cards. He was shocked as to how many I had and the variety of them. He really liked the custom TNT card I did, and signed kindly everything he saw. We had a brief conversation about how all his cards were bursting with action, his Baltimore SP card, and how some players have problems signing cards for certain teams that they played for. He said he had no hard feelings for the Ravens and even owns a home in the city. Afterwards I told the woman who was with him coyly that I would ask for her autograph too if she had a card, since she was so pretty, which got a nice laugh out of Priest.
Priest Holmes was not drafted coming out of the University of Texas. There were always flashes of brilliance there early on in his career at UT, such as the 1994 Sun Bowl MVP, when he rushed for 161 yards on 27 carries and a whopping 4 touchdowns against North Carolina (ironically coached by future head coach Mack Brown). A knee injury in 1995, and the emergence of future Heisman Winner Ricky Williams and scatback Shon Mitchell though forced Holmes to bide his time. He’d work his way into the lineup as a short yardage change of pace back, but really, Holmes was a runningback itching to wear down defenses with his well conditioned and aggressive play.
Signing with the Baltimore Ravens in 1997 as a free agent, the Ravens were a team still searching for an identity after their separation from Cleveland. Runningback was settled with Bam Morris and Earnest Byner as starters. Again Holmes had to patiently bide his time suiting up for just 7 games. He didn’t have to wait long as the Ravens retooled their whole offensive backfield in 1998 making him the team’s starter. Priest turned in a respectable season rushing for 1008 yards on 233 carries while also showing a nice touch as an option out of the backfield with 43 receptions. In 1999 the team approached the backfield load by committee, with Holmes splitting time with Errict Rhett. After that, it seemed like Holmes college experience was repeating itself in the pros, as the team benched him in favor of juggernaut Jamal Lewis. The Ravens offense rode Lewis (1364 yards) and Holmes (588 yards) to a Super Bowl victory after the 2000 season.
The third chapter of Holmes’ career began after the season. He’d sign as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs. He immediately became the team’s bell cow back under new head coach Dick Vermeil, and he ran Priest like he was the second coming of Marshall Faulk. Holmes went on to lead the NFL in rushing yards in 2001 with 1555 yards, and 62 receptions out of the backfield. His 2,169 yards from scrimmage was also tops in the league. In 2002, he’d top his career best with 1,615 yards, 70 receptions, and a league leading 21 touchdowns. Again his 2,287 yards from scrimmage led the NFL. In 2003 he’d rush for 1420 yards, grab a career high 74 receptions, and set an NFL record with 27 rushing touchdowns (since broken). In all three seasons in Kansas City (2001-2003) he earned Pro Bowl and All Pro Honors. While off to the same feverish pace in 2004, averaging a league high 111.5 yards a game, Priest injured his hip and spent half the season on IR. Still he managed to tag on 14 more touchdowns to his career totals. Refreshed for the 2005 season, Priest started 7 games in 2005, before suffering a cumulative barrage of hits to his head and neck in a contest against San Diego. Many speculated that Holmes’ career was over as his rehabilitation continued through the 2006 season. In 2007 he’d make a return that’d even surprise the Chiefs, starting two games in place for Larry Johnson, but after noticing tingling in his extremities after taking some hits, he decided it’d be best to hang up his cleats for his family and his health, right there and then.
Priest’s impact on the Chiefs’ organization can not be understated. In 63 starts he ran for 6,070 yards, 76 touchdowns, and accounted for 8,447 yards from scrimmage. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in total touchdowns (83), yards, and rushing touchdowns cementing Priest as one of the greatest street free agent finds of all time. While Priest never won a Super Bowl ring, during a 3 and a half year period, he was the most unstoppable force in the league. He is an avid Kansas City fan, and hosts radio shows and attends Sunday game events frequently supporting his old team.
I’m pretty surprised and happy with the results I’ve had in the past two meetings with Priest. I can probably say that I’ve closed the book on the cards that I wanted to get autographed by him… but you never know….
G/Gs 113/82 Rush 1780 Yds 8172 Avg 4.6 Td 86 Lg 72t |
Rec 339 Yds 2962 Avg 8.7 Td 8 Lg 67