Cards: Upper Deck 2011, Upper Deck 2011 NCAA, Pro Set 1989, Pro Set 1990 Pro Bowl, Pro Set 1992.
Acquired: 2015, Box Break. TTM 2015, C/o The Minnesota Vikings
Sent: 1/9/15 Received: 4/17/15 (98 days)
Failure: TTM 2010, C/o Home
Another elusive Ram is off my list, as I was finally able to secure UT great Jerry Gray. With a slew of really good cards and moments in Jerry’s career I wished to immortalize with an autograph, I settled on four of them, but Jerry kindly added an extra. Despite my earlier failure, Gray remains a fairly dependable signer in the TTM circuit.
Jerry Gray is considered one of the greatest defensive backs in the history of the University of Texas playing there from 1982 to 1984. His 16 career interceptions is ranked third on the all-time list, while his 7 interceptions in a season during 1984 is good for second all-time at the institution. Gray was also a devastating hitter and sure handed tackler, recording 297 career tackles while playing at safety. A rare physical specimen, Jerry was 6’1″, 185, and ran the 40 in 4.4 flat. Even more impressive was his track numbers that emphasized his long distance speed.
The Los Angeles Rams selected Gray in the first round of the 1985 draft at slot number 21. Although the San Antonio Gunslingers held Gray’s territorial rights in the USFL, they did not make a pitch to him. Head Coach John Robinson moved Gray to left cornerback, and Jerry played on special teams as well- something that he readily accepted and enjoyed.
It wouldn’t be until his second season in the league that Jerry became regarded as a dangerous ballhawk. He’d start all 16 games and record a career high 8 interceptions for 101 yards. As Gray began to let his presence be known as a force to be reckoned with in the NFC West, teams began avoiding him with regularity, but that would not stop him from being selected to 4 straight Pro Bowl appearances.
It’d be in the 1990 Pro Bowl that I perhaps most fondly remember Jerry. After a fine 1989 campaign, when he recorded 6 interceptions for 48 yards and a TD, Jerry earned his final Pro Bowl nod. Pro Bowls over the last 20 years have become an increasingly boring affair, however this one in particular was keyed by defense and an exciting last minute rally by the AFC. Gray keyed the NFC defensive effort with 6 tackles, and an interception that he returned for a Pro Bowl record 54 yards and a TD. Jerry earned the 1990 Pro Bowl MVP award for his efforts in a 27-21 win.
Before Jerry could continue his meteoric rise, Gray blew out his left knee and had to get arthroscopic surgery during the 1990 preseason. He’d start in 12 games that season, but not make an interception. Sensing a need for new blood at the position and having previous ornery salary negotiations with Gray, the Rams picked Todd Lyght in the first round of the 1991 draft. The writing was on the wall, and after a particularly bad game against the Falcons that season, Gray was replaced in the lineup. Still Jerry managed to start 9 games, intercepting 3 passes for 83 yards and a TD.
Jerry headlined the Free Agent lineup that hit the market in 1992. The Houston Oilers and Gray quickly came to terms. Jerry was excited to play for the Oilers as he had wanted to do so for a long time because of his ties to Texas and the chance to play for a perennial playoff contender. Jerry had a solid season for the Oilers at right corner with 6 interceptions for 24 yards and 2 forced fumbles. Following the Oilers loss in the playoffs versus the Buffalo Bills, owner Bud Adams elected to clean out the defensive staff. In came Buddy Ryan, who overnight quietly cut longtime defensive lineman Doug Smith and Jerry Gray. Jerry signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quietly retiring after the 1993 season.
Jerry has been an exceptional coach at the pro and college level. He has been linked as a finalist to many head coaching jobs including ones in Tampa Bay and Washington. At one point Jerry was destined to return to the Longhorns as their defensive coordinator, but left the college at the altar for the Seattle Seahawks. As of 2015, Jerry is the defensive backs coach of the Minnesota Vikings. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
Jerry Rice once said that Jerry Gray was the defensive back that gave him the most trouble over the years, and Gray is also well represented in Tecmo Super Bowl where his merchant speed makes interceptions come easy. Gray’s nickname ‘Jed’ is a reference to the Beverly Hillbillies TV show, that he was a big fan of.
G/Gs 134/103 Tac N/a Sac N/a Fum 9
Int 28 Yds 374 Avg 13.4 TD 3 Lg 59t