Category Archives: AFL

Little, Larry

Cards: ProSet WLAF 2014 hack, Majestic 2010
Acquired:  TTM 2017, C/o Home
Sent: 5/31    Received: 7/14      (43 days)

I remember vividly back when the Riders played the Glory, how the fans swarmed Larry for his autograph. The former NFL Great guard was kind and signed as much as he could after the game. Little was one of the few black head coach at the professional level of football in many years, and it was a big deal- even if it was the WLAF in 1992.  While the Glory finished with a dismal 1-9 record, the team was competitive in many contests. While Wild Card and Ultimate both contributed cards to the World League family in 1992, none outside of ProSet made any cards that showcased coaches- and ProSet bailed out on the WLAF market by 1992, so I made my own.

Larry played offensive line in college at Bethune-Cookman, but was not drafted in 1967. (It’s not known whether it was an issue of scouting or lack of film, but it was obvious that Larry was overlooked not only by the NFL but the AFL as well.) He’d sign as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers of the AFL. In 1969 Larry was traded to the Miami Dolphins where he quickly distinguished himself.  Larry was a key cog of the Miami Dolphins 1970’s dynasty, blocking up front for Jim Kiick, Mercury Morris, and Larry Czonka. He’d be named to the Pro Bowl 5 times (1969, 1971-1974,) and earn All-Pro 5 times (1971-1975) over his career.

After retiring from the NFL in 1980, Larry coached at his Alma Mater Bethune-Cookman from 1983-1991, before joining the WLAF with the Ohio Glory. Little was primarily known as a player’s coach. He returned to college after the WLAF went on hiatus, and coached at North Carolina Central from 1993-1998.

He’s earned numerous accolades from his playing career as well, being named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, the Miami Dolphins Honor Roll, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993, and The Sporting News 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999.

Larry signed these 2 cards for me through the mail. I should’ve actually included the Ultimate WLAF Ohio Glory Checklist but, maybe that’s for another time. I sent him the rest of the WLAF cards that I made for him to keep and he returned two of them, one inscribed with 17-0 and the other with HOF 1993.  The photo is of him from his interview with the WLAF Gameday Magazine from 1992 and it makes a solid, if not stoic impression of the former Glory coach. I really have warmed up to the Crown Royale Majestic line of cards from 2010.  While the card is very busy design-wise, it almost has a carnival appeal to me, emphasized by the typeface used for Majestic. How Majestic is lined up and off center within the marquee drives me a bit nuts, but otherwise the patch and autograph tie up this card nicely.

G/GS  183/157

Taylor, Lionel

Card: Upper Deck Legends 1997
Acquired: TTM 2014, C/o Home
Sent: 6/4/14  Received: 8/13/16  (801 days)

Lionel Taylor had an amazing career that began in 1959 playing for the Chicago Bears.  He didn’t record a reception for the team during his rookie year and opted to join the upstart American Football League during its inaugural season in 1960 for the Denver Broncos. Taylor went on to endear himself as one of the most dominant receivers in the history of the league, leading the AFL in receptions 5 of the next 6 years.  In 1961 he set a modern era record with 100 receptions (which was broken in 1964 by Charlie Hennigan at 101). He played for the Broncos through 1966- joining the Oilers for the 1967 and 1968 seasons.  Lionel retired from the gridiron in 1969.

Taylor established himself quickly as an up and coming assistant coach with the Steelers as a receivers coach in 1970.  He’d remain there through 1976, cultivating a reputation as a Super Bowl winning positional coach.  He joined the Rams from 1977-1979, where he was offensive coordinator in 1980 and 1981.  Lionel then applied his trade at the college level for Oregon State, and then as head coach at Texas Southern through 1988.  Returning to the NFL in 1989, Taylor worked with the Cleveland Browns tight ends and as a pass coordinator.

Taylor joined the World League of American Football in 1995 as offensive coordinator to the London Monarchs. As the league rebranded to the NFLE, he’d take over as head coach of the franchise in 1996 and shepherd the franchise through to become the England Monarchs. It was a tough run for Taylor as head coach at the end, as his team was a vagabond franchise playing all over England looking for a new home. Since there was no established fan base, this gave the Monarchs no home field advantage.  The Monarchs finished with a 3-7 record during their swan song season.

Taylor has fully retired from the sport and lives in New Mexico.  At a clip over 800 days, I had fully given up on getting a response from Lionel, so this one came as quite a surprise to get back. It’s a shame, as with many American Football League players, Lionel has gotten little to no traction in Hall of Fame circles, despite his impressive numbers.

AFL
G/GS 121/NA      REC 567     YDS  7195    AVG 12.7   TD 45    LG  80T

NFLE
W  11     L 17       PCT .393

LeVias, Jerry

to71 jlevias to70 jlevias

Cards: Topps 1970, Topps 1971
Acquired: TTM 2015, C/o Home
Sent:   12/30/15   Received: 1/7/16    (8 days)

Jerry LeVias went on to play in the AFL and NFL, but is also recognized as a pioneer, breaking segregation in the SWC, playing for the SMU Mustangs.  It was not easy for Jerry, as he faced constant harassment.  LeVias made them pay though as he was a 3 time All-SWC selection from 1966-1968. His best year came in 1968 when he caught 80 passes for 1131 yards and 8 touchdowns.  Jerry finished his career at SMU with 155 receptions for 2275 yards and 22 TDs.

In 1969 Jerry was drafted by the Houston Oilers and led the NFL his rookie season in all purpose yards with 1946 yards, and punt returns with 35 for 292 yards. He also chipped in a career high 42 receptions for 696 yards and 5 TDs, including a league leading long 86 yard TD.  Jerry’s 1946 yards consisted of nearly half the team’s total yardage. He’d earn a Pro Bowl trip after the season and Rookie of the Year honors.   In 1970, he finished with 1377 yards from scrimmage, but Jerry was already preparing himself for life after football.

LeVias was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1971.  He’d have his final season with over a 1000 all purpose yards, but the constant pounding his small frame (5’8″, 165) was taking its toll. Jerry retired after the 1974 season.

As of 2015 Jerry serves as a Houston Texans Ambassador. He’s been honored with inductions into the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame,  College Football Hall of Fame, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.  A few years ago I went to the Kickoff at Kemah in Houston during a tropical storm. An early rumor placed LeVias at the Texans event, but in the end it was three other ambassadors. I decided to go ahead and shoot some cards out to him instead. Luckily he signed these two classic Topps cards.

G/Gs  70/35     Rec 144    Yds 2139    Avg 14.9    Td 14    Lg 86T
Rush 19   Yds 161   Avg 8.5    Td 0    Lg 38
KR  94      Yds 2213    Avg 23.5    Td 0    Lg 87
PR 35       Yds 687       Avg 7.8       Td 0    Lg 46