Card: Playoff Contenders 2005
Acquired: 2017, C/o EBay
Jerome Mathis was a phenomenal track man while he was at Hampton. He took it to the gridiron too, setting the NCAA record with a gaudy 26.6 career kick return average and 6 TDs. During the combine, Mathis created quite a buzz posting the second best 40 time in history at 4.26. Still he waited to hear his named called until the 4th round of the 2005 draft, because he was considered just a return man from a small school.
The Texans are a very patient team and felt they could wait for Mathis to mature as a receiver. His speed was proven and he could be used on kick and punt returns at least. Mathis took the league by storm his rookie year. He posted 54 kick returns for 1542 yards (28.6 yard average) and 2 touchdowns, including a 99 yarder. His strong rookie campaign earned him Pro Bowl and special teams player of the year honors. During the Pro Bowl he fractured his foot, but it went undetected, forcing him to miss nearly the entire next season on IR. He came back to the squad for 2007 but after 3 games lost his entire year to injured reserve. He still managed to post 11 returns for 320 yards and a 84 yard TD.
Mathis was in a contract year with the Texans in 2007, and as a restricted free agent in 2008 the Texans had first right of refusal or tender. Late in 2007 he had a run in with the law- but whether or not that had anything to do with it, Houston cut him outright 9 days after being charged with a misdemeanor. He signed with the Redskins but was cut a few months later.
In 2009 he joined the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL and was on and off their roster for the season. He spent 2010 briefly with the UFL Hartford Colonials, before playing one final glorious year in the Arena Football League for the Pittsburgh Power. There he set a variety of Power records, retiring after the 2011 season.
NFL 17 Rec 6 Yds 80 Avg 13.3 Td 1 Lg 34t
KR 72 Yds 2154 Avg 28.5 Td 3 Lg 99t
PR 12 Yds 68 Avg 5.7 Td 0 Lg 19
Arena Rec 30 Yds 418 Avg Td 7 Lg 46t
Ret 31 Yds 688 Avg Td 1 Lg 49t
Cards: Score 1990, ProSet 1990, Topps 1990
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o Home
Sent: 8/21 Received: 9/12 (21 days)
See Also: James Dixon
James is notable as he helped rookie Troy Aikman break the NFL rookie passing record (at the time) with 203 yards receiving, including that 75 yard bomb. He also set the club mark with his 1,181 kick off return yards, breaking the mark previously set by Mel Renfro back in 1964- all in his rookie season. Still he’s fallen into relative obscurity over the years and lives comfortably in Texas.
James Dixon was quite lucky. He played on a terrible Cowboys squad, but stuck out enough to get noticed before he faded off into obscurity. It was enough that 4 major brands (Topps, ProSet, Score, and Action Packed) all put out cards of him. After returning to the hobby, I was surprised that he didn’t appear in any lists on websites or any fans were clamoring for his address, so after many years, I decided to go ahead and do some sleuthing and figure out where he was at. He did not disappoint, signing these 3 cards in under a month.
Cards: Skybox 92, Action Packed 1989, Score 1989
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Work
Sent: 12/4/16 Received: 2/11/17 (65 days)
See Also: Mike Tomczak
Mike’s dreams came true when he joined the Chicago Bears- a team he idolized as a kid. While Ditka put so much pressure on Mike that he considered quitting the sport he loved, Mike ended up carving out a 15 year career in the NFL playing at a variety of stops in the league after Chicago. Infamously during his stay in Green Bay he opted to hold out for a better contract- which caused the team to cut him, and brought about the Brett Favre era that much quicker. Mike had no problem spreading the love around, throwing to 35 different players in 88 touchdown strikes. While Mike only topped the 300 yard mark one time with the Bears, Packers, and Browns, he blossomed late in his career adding 3 more to his career with the Steelers. Mike is known for being the lead guitar player during the Bears infamous 1985 ‘Super Bowl Shuffle’ video. He also shares the same birthday with fellow quarterback Doug Flutie.
Tomczak had some great cards over his career. It took me some time to figure out which ones to send him. After some deliberation I decided on these three. I liked the design and photo for all three of these cards. Action Packed did a short run test promo in 1989 that covered a few NFC teams. It was pretty much identical to their 1990 run, minus the copyright. Score 1989 was blockbuster by any right with the vibrant colors and strong action photos standing out. Skybox was a late addition to the market, coming from the basketball arena, but its initial offering was simple, clean, and impressive.