Category Archives: AAF

Johnston, Daryl ‘Moose’ (3)

Card: Topps AAF 2019
Acquired: IP 2019, San Antonio Commanders vs The Salt Lake Stallions
See Also: Daryl Johnston, Daryl Johnston (2)

I had gone to the San Antonio Commanders Season Ticket Holders unveiling announcement. Knowing that Daryl Johnston was the GM of the team, I packed a bunch of cards with the help of my old pal Spoodog, with the hope that I’d get them all signed. Daryl gave a fiery speech about football, and how it had provided for him and his family and his life and how it was under attack from all sides. It really made me excited for AAF football. After the speeches concluded, it became a bit of a madhouse, with Daryl and Troy Polamalu making the rounds. Daryl was taking photos with fans. When I came up to him, I jokingly said, “The denizens of autograph alley at St Edwards say hello!”, And then asked for his autograph. He rebuffed and told me that this was not a signing- rather it was a photo op. He then asked me if I wanted a photo, and I told him…
“No thanks.” , Much to his quizzical look as I walked away. I know a lot of the current generation is into selfies as a way of getting autographs, but to me nothing beats the ink- especially on cards.

I’m pretty sure the day before the Salt Lake Stallions game, I was able to get a hobby box of the Alliance football cards. Inside I was able to break most of the Commanders, to carry with me to the game. It was a date night for my wife and me, since I had the extra seat. The bonus was the league had shifted my seat around so many times that they gave me hats and field passes for one of the games- so I elected for the Stallions game hoping to rake in the autographs.

It really didn’t go as planned as my wife found the whole experience sort of boring and to top it off she was hangry, so we had to leave the field a little bit earlier than normal. I did however stop and talk to Daryl. This card captures Daryl’s demeanor perfectly: Quiet. Alert. Calculating. Intense. -He pretty much had this expression on the entire season.

I asked him if he had seen his card yet- and he was generally shocked. “Well look at that…” He said. This time there was only a brief pause when I asked him to sign the card, to which he responded, “Sure. No problem.” I then told him how impressed I was with the job he was doing with the Commanders in assembling the team. As I looked at him, he appeared genuinely touched and thanked me for the compliment, took the pen and started signing. I then told him about my father, the Riders, and how I had wanted him to come to the games with me, but he had passed at the beginning of the year. He stopped, and said, “Oh my god. I am so sorry for your loss. Are you okay?” A part of me is still processing things 3 months later. It’s been a while since anybody has said anything to me about it. I fumbled the ball, shrugged, and said, “It is what it is.”

Daryl worked mightily for the Commanders the entire season getting up to speed as a GM. Hungry and determined, he put together a competitive team right out of the gate. He also helped advise the league through negotiations with the NFLPA, all the while spending time apart from his family.

It was a shame the way it ended. Even in the mess that it has descended into, Daryl has exuded class, loyalty, and honor. I listened to him on San Antonio radio discuss how the AAF fell apart, how he was just as blindsided as the rest of us, and how he felt badly for the city of San Antonio and the players, coaching staff, and fans of the team.

He’s now looking into opportunities with the Cowboys. I hope he gets that shot because I think he’d be an amazing GM at some point wherever he ends up.

Richardson, Daryl

Card: Donruss Rookies & Stars 2013
Acquired: In Person 2018, AAF San Antonio Commanders Season Ticket Holders Party

I really had to scramble to find a Daryl Richardson card before I left for the season ticket holders party. Worried that the cards I ordered wouldn’t arrive in time, I went and dug through my card boxes twice before I left. I thought that I had at least one card of Daryl somewhere that had possibly been given to me by Spoodog. The night before I left I came across Daryl’s Rookies & Stars entry from 2013. It was a gem to start with. 

Overall it was a good event. Players were easy to talk to- almost shy being approached, but Daryl handled the spotlight magnificently with his trademark dreads and wife and kid in tow. When I showed him this card he got really animated, and we talked about being new fathers for a bit. He then welcomed me to follow him on Twitter, where I quickly found out that another fellow collector was a big fan. 

His Rookies & Stars entry is really nice. This set is a good departure from the terrible look of the 2012 set. If I had been a collector back then or this set was cheap enough, I’d probably try to plunk down enough change to pick it up. The foreground image of Richardson is strong. He looks heroic bursting from the canvas in front of the design. The background is smartly blurred, and although Daryl’s feet look cut off because they do not continue below the logos, it could still be considered a design decision. 

My silver sharpie dried out and the backup I had with me also dried up. Final lessons learned on sharpies: Stick to blue if you have to use a basic sharpie. Silver, black and just about any other color react badly to humidity and after a while will dry out… And- always pack a second sharpie in case the first one is dead. I tested the sharpies before I went inside the covered stadium, but I guess the humidity sapped them up immediately. I ran off to the entry table where the girls running the event let me borrow the- brown one. It worked in a cinch, but I couldn’t get them to let me use blue or black. 

Daryl was the second to last pick of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Abilene Christian. He’d beat out Isiah Pead in camp to become Steven Jackson‘s primary backup. A low to the ground, compact, elusive runner, Daryl ran for 475 yards his rookie year. He also displayed soft hands out of the backfield, catching 24 passes.  Injuries slowed him his final two seasons in St Louis.

He’d be released in 2014 and sign with the Jets where he was on and off the practice squad of the franchise through 2015. The Texans signed Daryl next, and then later in 2015 the Browns signed and waived him as well. The next year he spent nearly the entire year with the Steelers on their practice squad. Claimed off of waivers by the Jaguars in 2016, Daryl was released by both the Jags and Colts in 2017. 

With the advent of Spring football nearly upon the masses again in not only the XFL but the AAF, I decided to throw my hat in the ring with the San Antonio team when it was announced with the AAF. Richardson was one of my ‘big heart’ selections by the Commanders. He’s a ‘do it all’ kinda guy who fits what the team needs, especially in a 3rd down back. Unfortunately facing unusually stiff competition from Aaron Green, Trey Williams, Kenneth Farrow II, and David Cobb- left my fan favorite on the way out. Daryl was cut but hopefully his football dreams will continue with another shot elsewhere.

Ebersol, Charlie

Card: Topps AAF 2019
Acquired: IP 2019, San Antonio Commanders vs Arizona Hotshots

So I said, “Hey Charile! I got your trading card over here!”, And he was genuinely shocked. “Get out! I have a trading card!”, He said as he briskly strolled over to me in the visitors end zone. Charlie smiled and looked at it, and gleefully showed it to his wife. He was so excited he and I took a picture together (- that in retrospect will possibly never see the light of day). “Don’t worry, my wife posts everything to Twitter,” Ebersol said as he penned the card. He thanked me, but before turning around, reached into his pocket and gave me a league lapel pin. For a brief moment, I felt special. When asked about the league, Charlie smiled, and said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but based on how great San Antonio has been, you guys should be able to keep the rights to it forever!” Ebersol then handed out every single one of those lapel pins to the fans sitting around me.

It reminded me of when I was 25, and I worked for a brokerage company in 2002. There were rumors of downsizing, and the CEO came in and talked to us about what was going on. His response and body language was about the same as Charlie’s, and I picked up on it, but didn’t want to believe it. Two months later I was laid off as the company closed the location I worked at.

The San Antonio Commanders versus the Arizona Hotshots was the last game played by the AAF. Two days after the game concluded, the league was shuttered. Fans, players, executives, coaches- it all ended. Tom Dundon, (the Chairman and the guy controlling the league’s purse strings), abruptly decided to stop funding the league. Charlie and the other founding members of the league were dumbfounded. They had a 3 year plan, but Dundon had plans- otherwise, and decided to cut loose after only a few weeks.

Things have a way of coming full circle. My dad used to take me to WLAF games back in the early 90s. This was the first time I had a team since then that I could relate to in SA like that, and I wanted to share that with my father- but he passed away before the first game at the beginning of the year.

I hoped that living vicariously through the guests that I had take his seat, that I could keep the memory and dream alive of spending time with my dad, and to not have to confront the fact that he died, but that too has come to pass.

And just like the AAF, I just wished I had more time.