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.
Card: Upper Deck 2009, Score 2009 Acquired: In Person 2019, San Antonio Commanders v San Diego Fleet Failure: TTM 2016, C/o Home
Hines Ward played 14 seasons in the NFL from 1998-2011. After posting decent numbers for the Georgia Bulldogs (144 receptions for 1965 yards and 11 TDs) over his college career, Ward was selected in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although he didn’t find immediate success, by 2001 Hines was really starting to round out as a marquee receiver, posting his first (of 4) 1,000 yard campaigns, and first (of 4) Pro Bowl appearances. In 2002, he’d have a career high 112 receptions for 1329 yards and 12 TDs. Hines won Super Bowl XL MVP honors after catching 5 passes for 123 yards and a TD. Despite legendary names in the Steelers wide receiver corps, Hines finished at the top of most of the team’s charts before retiring.
He’s dabbled here and there in sports commentary and as a celebrity judge, but it was when he was given the opportunity to be involved with the AAF that he has really seemed to jump out there.
After getting lucky with Troy Polamalu at the San Antonio Commanders team reveal, I stocked up on other executives for the inaugural game. The ticketing office hit a snafu with me on my tickets and offered me a floor pregame pass during the season. I asked to get on the field for the opening game- but I was told that the league was expecting a lot of executives for the event. I took this as a good omen. Sure I could’ve kicked myself for not packing a card of Kurt Warner who was broadcasting the game, but I was happy as it was just to get Hines.
Standing in the front row of the endzone, nobody noticed Hines. I waited until he got a good, close distance to me and called him over. He hesitated for a moment and then told his guest he was going to sign some autographs. I think he signed for two reasons. One, he had made it so long without somebody recognizing him wandering around the stadium, so I had to be a fan. Two, Hines is all on board with the league and its mantra. He is genuinely excited to share the vision of the league with fans.
Later when I posted the autograph to one of the message boards on Facebook, I found out that I was lucky to not only get two autographs out of him- but that I also got his full signature.
If I hadn’t gotten another autograph for the rest of the evening I would’ve still been tickled pink about it, as I learned firsthand that he can be a erratic signer back in 2016. This Upper Deck 2009 was amazing, and the photo is a rare treat. Hines put the autograph to the canvas perfectly! It compliments the image well and makes it feel even more exciting. The 2009 Score was a set need. I wanted the 2010 Score, but I thought just getting two autographs from Hines was greedy enough.
Randall Goforth is a flexible defender that has the chops to play either safety or corner. A 3 year starter at UCLA, he posted 4 interceptions, nine pass breakups, 57 tackles, and three tackles for loss in 2016. While he displayed excellent footwork, most scouts pegged Goforth as a guy who needed to be in the right system to fit his skillset. Randall went undrafted in 2017 but was signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles. In July of that year he’d blow out his ACL ending his season before it began. A year later Randall was cut by the Eagles, but looks to rejuvenate his career as he signed with the Phoenix Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football, set to start in early 2019.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.