Category Archives: AFL

Houston, Ken

Cards: Action Packed 1991 Whizzer White Award, Upper Deck Legends 1997
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 12//19 Received: 1/3/20 (days)

Ken Houston was one of the greatest NFL defensive backs to play the game. Playing at safety for the Houston Oilers in 1967, Kenny was a blessed athlete and track man with an incredible nose for the ball. He picked off 4 passes his rookie season and scored 2 TDs. (He scored a 3rd TD via blocked field goal that season as well.)

Then from 1968 through 1979, Ken was named to the Pro Bowl, while also garnishing 2 time AP Honors (10 time 2nd team AP Honors). He scored 2 more TDs on interceptions in 1968, then tied the NFL record with 4 (with a 5th via fumble recovery) on 9 interceptions in 1971.

Kenny was traded to the Washington Redskins in 1973. for at the time a blockbuster deal. The Redskins handed over 5 players to land Houston. Ken paid off as over the next 8 seasons recorded 24 more interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries.

Over Kenny’s storried career he scored a TD 4 different ways: Interception, Fumble, Punt, and Blocked Kick. He was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the 1986 class. He’s also been showered with honors and accolades.

As of 2020, Ken lives in the Houston area and is a member of neither the Redskins or Titans Ambassadors group, but rather the Houston Texans, and makes appearances for the team. He does quite a lot of work for charities, including Houston area hospitals.

I had hoped to get Ken on an Oilers card, but frankly I hated them all, so I went with these Redskins cards. Ah well, these two were by far my favorite, even though they were both post playing career finds. His Action Packed Whizzer White is an exceptional specimen, while is Legends shows him laying the wood out.

I had gotten these cards some time ago and sat on them. I hoped that I’d corner him at a Texans team function but no dice. I actually met his son at a pregame event back in 2015 when the Texans played the Chiefs and he was very nice. It only took me another 4 years or so to finally go ahead and send these out to him with a small signing fee. He turned these around in no time flat, and that in turn triggered a tsunami on different TTM sites for requests from him.

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Granger, Hoyle

Card: Topps 1970
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 2/4 Received: 2/9 (5 days)

Over his college career Cajun Hoyle Granger ran for 1534 yards and 350 carries (7 TDs) for Mississippi State. He’d be selected by the Houston Oilers in the 5th round of the AFL draft, and the 4th round of the competing NFL draft in 1966. Opting to sign with the Oilers, Hoyle became more or less a fullback for Houston as not only was he a strong North/South runner but also an impressive blocker. After a subpar rookie season, when he rushed for 388 yards on 56 carries, Hoyle burst onto the scene for the first of two consecutive ProBowl appearances in 67 and 68. He’d run for a career high 1,194 yards (6 TDs) in 1967 and 848 yards in 1968 (7 TDs). His 1,494 combined yards in 1967 led the AFL. Although his numbers were in decline after that, Hoyle became the franchise’s all-time leading rusher (since surpassed) during the 1970 season. Afterwards he’d be traded to the New Orleans Saints along with a bevy of players and draft choices. (The Oilers in return received notably WR Ken Burrough whom they had wanted but NO had selected the pick before them.) After just one season in The Big Easy, Hoyle returned to Houston for his final swan song in 1972.

I was not familiar with Hoyle outside of his statistics and the fact he was #3 on the HOUSTON Oilers all-time rushing list, but after reading the book ‘Oiler Blues’ he was one of the more recognizable players from the brief silver Houston Oilers helmet era, and a few photos of him rumbling along really stuck out in my head. I decided to take a shot at him and was pleased to see a response in 5 days flat on his classic Topps 1970 card.

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Maynard, Don

Cards: Topps 1970, Upper Deck Legends 1997
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Home*
Sent:  8/4   Received: 8/20    (16 days)
* Donation enclosed of $10 per flat

Don Maynard is considered the best receiver in Jets history, one of the best receivers in AFL history, and one of the best receivers in NFL history.  At the time of Maynard’s retirement he held the NFL record for career receptions and yards. He was the first player to crack the 10k barrier in receiving yards. An amazing feat considering it was still during an era where the passing game had not fully developed yet. Don epitomized consistency and longevity. (Oddly enough he never led the league in catches at any time but his sheer numbers made up for it en force.) 

Maynard was originally drafted by the New York Giants in 1957, but only played one lone season for them before bolting North to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL. He’d return shortly thereafter to the fledgling AFL in 1960- becoming the first signee of the then New York Titans (later Jets). Over the next 10 seasons in the AFL he’d be named to the All-AFL team 4 times. In the final season before the AFL NFL merger, he’d help the Jets win Super Bowl III and notably graced the cover of the big game’s program guide as well. 

Don joined the Rams in 73, but ultimately ended up on the St. Louis Cardinals for a lone season, retiring after a bout with the WFL playing for the Shreveport Steamer/ Houston Texans. 

Maynard played college ball for Rice, and later Texas Western (UTEP). He was a proven runningback and defensive back, but was unpolished gold at receiver. His number has been retired by the Jets,  got his gold jacket along the way, and has been a Grand Marshall for UTEP at one of their parades. He lives outside of the El Paso area, in relative anonymity. 

I had been wanting Don for sometime but I thought he was out of reach. I really liked these cards of his and always wanted to get them signed so I went ahead and took a shot with a small donation. In the end I also had a Pro Set Super Bowl III card that I opted to send to Matt Snell instead (because he should’ve been MVP). Still the Topps 1970 is iconic, while the Upper Deck Legends 1997 hits all the marks for perfection. 

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