Card: Topps AAF 2019 Yellow 12/25
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 9/26 Received: 11/8 (43 days)
A versatile and consistent linebacker, AJ Tarpley played for the Stanford Cardinal from 2011-2014. Over his 4 years he totaled out 299 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 8 pass deflections and 2 fumble recoveries.
He was not selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, however AJ was snatched up by the Buffalo Bills. After bouncing off and back onto the roster as a practice squad member, he was elevated late in the season to the regular season roster. AJ turned out to be a stellar find by the franchise, and saw action in the final month of the season, starting 2 games, recording 8 tackles, a forced fumble, and 2 interceptions.
“I have no current residual effects that I am aware of, cognitively or physically. The decision I made to retire from football is about coming to terms with the totality of my concussion history and what is asked of me as a linebacker.”-AJ Tarpley at his retirement in 2016
In early 2016, citing concussion concerns, AJ retired, stunning the football world. AJ had suffered 3-4 concussions the previous season, and doctors were advising him to be careful. He briefly entered the financial world working on wall street, but he kept hearing the siren’s call of football.
AJ decided to return to football in 2019, signing with the San Diego Fleet of the AAF. AJ started 6 games for the Fleet, posting 35 total tackles and an interception he returned 27 yards for a touchdown in San Diego’s route of the San Antonio Commanders 31-11, in Week 3. For his efforts in that game, AJ was named AAF Defensive Player of the Week and enshrined with his Topps AAF Now card (that routinely is overpriced at $50,00 on EBay). After the league folded Tarpley was mentioned by Coach Mike Martz as being the ‘most NFL ready’ of his players.
“He’s the centerpiece of our defense. I don’t know why he is not in the NFL.”
– Fleet Head Coach Mike Martz
It was hard not to like the Fleet in general. A team full of characters, I really took to Ja’Quan Gardner, Dontez Ford, and Berco on offense, but the defense- in particular- there was Ron Brooks and AJ Tarpley. I had identified Tarpley as the motor of the Fleet defense in the preseason and really liked his background. I am glad that he was able to resurrect his career (even at the expense of the Commanders).
When I pulled this card, I knew I had to have it signed. MSB (Mark’s Signing Bonus) came through and helped me out again on the address. I was hoping to get his Topps Now entry on the cheap, but I could not get the price down so after a slight delay I go this out the door to him.
AJ was selected by the DC Defenders of the new XFL 2020 intiative during the open phase portion of the league’s initial draft.