Category Archives: AFL

Shell, Art

amad90 ar shell pset91 shell

Cards: Pro Set AP 1991, Action Packed All Madden 1991
Acquired: In Person, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp 1992.

Art Shell was drafted out of Maryland Eastern Shore College in 1968 by then the AFL Oakland Raiders. An incredible offensive tackle, Shell would be named to 8 Pro Bowls, 3 All Pros and part of the NFLs 1970s all-decade team.  Equally adept against the pass and the run, he starred in two Super Bowls, played in 207 contests and 23 post season games. He currently holds the odd record of being the NFL player who has played the most games with diabetes.

After retirement, Shell went right into coaching working for the Silver and Black from 1983-1989 before being named head coach of the organization where he served from 1990-1994.  Art Shell was the first black head coach in the modern era of the NFL, and in 1990 was named coach of the year in when the Raiders went 12-4 and advanced to the AFC Championship Game. Controversially he was fired in 1994 after posting a 9-7 record. At that time Shell’s record was 54-38. He’d then serve as an assistant in different capacities for the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, and the NFL offices before returning to the Raiders for one season in 2006. Since coaching retirement he has continued to work with the NFL and also hosts an annual golf tournament. He was also named into the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Morris, Mercury

Cards: Topps 1977, SP Signature Edition 2005
Acquired: TTM 2010, c/o Home.
Sent:  4/28     Received:  7/9   (72 days)


Before I begin, I’d like to express my outrage towards the NFL and solidarity with former players in their attempts at trying to get medical assistance and their ‘fair share’ of the retirement pie. Case in point:

Mercury Morris was another AFLer that I sent away for after watching “Full Color Football” on the NFL Network.  Morris was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 3rd round of the 1969 draft, playing in the final year of the AFL before the merger.   Initially Morris found himself playing as a backup running back and special teams returner to Jim Kiick with gradually increasing playing time. (He started 39 games over his career.) In 1973, Mercury combined with Larry Csonka to form the first 1,000 yard duo, playing with two broken vertebra for a good portion of the season. (Mercury was not informed of the break when it happened, rather he was told that the injury was a ‘sprain’ after the game by team doctors.) Morris would play through 1976, where he was traded to the Chargers and then retired shortly thereafter due to the lingering neck injury from 1973. Eugene “Mercury” Morris was aptly named, based on his mercurial quickness, and later proven by the fact that he stands 1st amongst halfbacks on average yards per carry at 5.1 (with at least 750 attempts) and his kick return average of 26.5 stands in the NFL top ten.  He is also a member of the NFL’s only completely perfect team, (the 17-0 1972 Dolphins) and was a 3 time ProBowl selection from 1971-1973.

Since retirement Morris has been involved in television, public speaking, commercials, and wrote a book about his life entitled “Against the Grain” (1988). An outspoken advocate for improving player benefits, Mercury has continued to battle with the NFL to acknowledge and compensate him and his former gladiator brethren for their increasing medical expenses caused by their playing days.  (Mercury has suffered from lingering and debilitating headaches from his fused spine and deadened nerves.) Morris has pressed on with multiple legal actions against the league (for the money he is entitled to) and the Groom Law Group, which supervises the NFL pension plan. He has chronicled his latest attempts at getting answers through former defensive lineman Dave Pear’s blog at: www.davepear.com/blog .

G  99       Att  804           Yds   4133           Avg  5.1           TD 31          LG 70
KR  111          Yds  2947          Avg  26.5             TD  3            LG 105

Hennigan, Charlie (1935-2017)

Card: Upper Deck Legends 1997, Photo memorabilia
Acquired: TTM 2010, C/o Home.
Sent: 6/24  Received: 7/3  (9 days)


Charlie Hennigan finished his career long before I was born, however I was aware of his accomplishments early on as a fan of the Houston Oilers. After I watched the presentation of “Full Color Football” on NFL Network, I decided to start collecting some of the players from before ‘my era’ of football and in that bid to locate and get autographs of many of the original AFLers (particularly Houston Oilers from any era on cards), I got the Meisleman list in the mail and went to work. I couldn’t believe that Charlie was listed in the book. I was even more surprised when he autographed the card I sent him, plus included a piece of photo memorabilia of himself from the early years that he autographed on both sides. (I miss this form of sports photography.) I don’t mind personalization at all. I hope it proves to the player that’s signing it that I am indeed sincere in my attempts to get their autograph, and that I’m not interested in selling them. I’ve heard of players charging for personalization and frankly I think if they want to make sure that somebody won’t sell their name, just personalize it. Nobody named Joe wants to buy an autograph of a player from somebody who has it personalized to Lee.(- At least I wouldn’t.)

Charlie was an amazingly fast receiver who made the Houston Oiler air attack work during the early years of the AFL where the team won the first two championships of the AFL. A player who has never gotten the respect he has deserved, Hennigan scored the first touchdown in Oiler History back in 1960 and was the main target of George Blanda‘s passes becoming the first player to go over 100 catches in a season with 101 in 1964. Hennigan would set the AFL/NFL mark for most receiving yards in a season with 1746, which would stand for 34 years. An AFL All Star for 5 of the 6 seasons he played, Hennigan kept a pay stub from his teaching career in his helmet to keep himself grounded. Hennigan still holds the record for most 200 yard receiving games in a season with 3 and most games in a season with over 100 yards at 11. Hennigan would also hold the All AFL record of 272 yards receiving (1962) and would go over 1500 yards receiving in two separate seasons averaging an incredible 124 yards a game in 1961 and 110 in 1964.  Incredible numbers considering that players in the 60s played only 14 game seasons.  Oddly Hennigan has never been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Many, (myself included) believe that this is an act of hazing from the old guard of the NFL, in barring him and other pioneers of the old AFL from obtaining entry. (I am of the camp that believes the whole AFL should be inducted all at once as league pioneers, and like other professional leagues before them a separate wing be dedicated to their accomplishments.) Hall of Fame defensive back Willie Brown was ironically cut by the Houston Oilers because he could not cover Charlie Hennigan. Charlie and Willie would meet again on the field, where Charlie needed only 9 catches to break the AFL record for catches in a season. Charlie got those 9.  Hennigan would retire in 1967, founding the Hennigan Institute after getting his Doctorate from the University of Houston. Later on he would go on to teach former prisoners and help them get their GEDs near Shreveport, LA and ran for political office in 2002 as a Democrat. Hennigan also has seven children.

G 95      Rec    410   Yds 6873    Avg   16.6      TD  51         Lg  83

* UPDATE *  On December 20th, 2017 Dr. Hennigan passed away at the age of 82.