Category Archives: College Football HoF

Dean, Fred (DE/LB)

Cards: Upper Deck Legends 1997, Topps 1979
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Home
Sent:  7/11   Received:  7/18   (7 days)*
* Donation enclosed

Fred Dean was a rangy linebacker from Louisiana Tech (392 tackles) that was drafted in the second round of the 1975 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers. He was converted to defensive end and set his sights on terrorizing quarterbacks in the AFC West. His best season for the Chargers occurred in 1978 when he recorded an unoffical 15.5 sacks. A core member of the ‘Bruise Brothers’, Fred played for the Chargers through the 1981 season, where he was traded during the season to the San Fransisco 49ers.  He served notice to the league by helping the 49ers win Superbowl XVI as the final cornerstone to San Fransisco’s defensive front. To top things off he also was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. During 1983, Dean single-handedly humiliated the New Orleans Saints to the tune of 6 sacks, en route to a season high 17 sack season.  He retired after the 1985 season and returned to his native Louisiana.

The awards have slowly but steadily trickled in for Fred since then, with LA Tech honoring him in 1990, the Pro Football Hall of Fame honoring him in 2008, and finally the College Football Hall of Fame in 2019. A fearsome force, one must wonder if the accolades as a premiere defender would have come quicker to Dean if sacks were recognized earlier as a statistic in the annals of NFL history.  He redefined the role of a pass rusher, helped modernize defenses, and be among the first situational pass rushers late in his career. Fred is also one of the rare players who has been recognized by two different teams as part of their anniversary teams. Such as the case it is hard to decide if Dean is represented better as a member of the Chargers or 49ers.

G/GS 141/82        TAC         SAC   93.0      FUM 13
INT 1         YDS 22         AVG 22.0         LG 22T        TD 1

Pruitt, Greg

Card: Topps 1978
Acquired: 2016, Future Considerations

An elusive and explosive back out of the backfield at the University of Oklahoma, Greg Pruitt finished 3rd in Heisman voting in 1971 and 2nd in 1972. The All-American rushed for 3,122 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Sooners over his time there.  Measuring up at 5’10”, 190 Pruitt was lucky not to take a pounding, because defenders rarely got squared up on him.

The Cleveland Browns were intrigued by the diminutive back,  and selected Greg with their second round pick of the 1973 draft slotting him behind their future HOF runningback Leroy Kelly. Pruitt was as advertised and immediately added an extra charge to the Browns offense primarily as a kick returner and punt returner. In 4 of his first 5 seasons, Greg earned Pro Bowl honors. It’d be in 1975 that he’d really hit his stride as a runningback, cranking out 3 straight 1,000+ yard seasons in a row as well as demonstrating a knack as a reliable receiving option out of the backfield.  In 1974 and 1975, Pruitt had nearly 1,800 all purpose yards, and achieved at least 1,100 all purpose yards 6 times over 12 seasons.  He’d enjoy career highs at receptions in 1980 (50) and then 1981 (65), before taking his show to Oakland to join the Raiders as their return man. In 1983 he’d lead the NFL in punt returns, putting together a whopping 58 returns for 666 yards and a 97 yard TD, earning his final pro bowl berth. The 58 returns and 97 yard TD were second in NFL history, while the 666 yards was an NFL record (all since surpassed).  He’d win a Superbowl XVIII ring and retire after the 1984 season.

Greg Pruitt had some amazing highlight film of him running through defenders hands as they literally tore his jerseys off his pads. The problem was he intentionally wore those tear away jerseys so he could shake off those pesky tacklers.  In response the NFL enacted the ‘Greg Pruitt Rule’ preventing any player from wearing tear away jerseys in 1979.

Greg was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Cleveland Browns Legends Class of 2001.  Many of his records still stand tall on the Browns records lists, both single season and career. He currently lives in the Cleveland area where he owns a construction company.

DeadHorse went to a nearby signing to him in Ohio and came up with a few signatures for me from old Browns runningback greats Earnest Byner, Kevin Mack, and Greg Pruitt.  Thankfully DeadHorse was paying attention as I got Greg and Mike Pruitt confused. He switched out my Mike Pruitt card and came through with a nice autograph for the collection.

G/GS  158/82     RUSH   1196    YDS  5672    AVG 4.7    TD 27   LG 78t
REC 328     YDS 3069    AVG 9.4    TD 18    LG 60t
KR  106    YDS 2514   AVG 23.7    TD 1    LG 88t
PR  194    YDS 2007  AVG 10.3    TD 1   LG 97t

Nelson, Darrin

pset89 nelson Tsco89 dnelsonCards: ProSet 1989 Update, Score 1990, ProSet 1989, Score 1989
Acquired: 2012, Canton Acquisition. 2016, TTM C/o Home
Sent:  5/19    Received: 6/1  (12 days)

Darrin Nelson is most well known for briefly holding up the Herschel Walker trade in 1989. The Cowboys were dealt Issiac Holt, Jessie Solomon, Alex Stewart, and David Howard, along with Nelson and a slew of draft choices. Unwilling to report to the Cowboys, Darrin was traded to the San Diego Chargers.  This set off a flurry of trades at the bell, that eventually resulted in then backup Detroit Lions RB Paul Palmer being shipped to Dallas.

sco90 dnelsonWhile Nelson was back home in California, I guess  you could say his heart was still in Minnesota.  He’d return to the Vikings in 1991 where he finished out his career.

pset89 dnelsonThe Vikings first round choice (#7 overall) in 1982, Nelson was a dynamic rusher and receiver- somewhat of a rarity during the heyday of the ground game.  During his time at Stanford from 1977-1981, he accomplished a feat that nobody had ever done before in rushing for over 1,000 yards and catching at least 50 passes.  He did it not only his Freshman year, but repeated it again his Sophomore year and again in his Senior year.

During his time in the NFL  Nelson distinguished himself as a jack of all trades, rushing, receiving, and returning.  In 1986, Darrin had 1,386 yards from scrimmage and 7 TDs, and lead the NFL with a 4.9 yards per carry average in 1987.  In 2014, Darrin was named to the College Football Hall of Fame.  As of 2016, Darrin works in the external relations department at UCLA. A solid signer through the mail, Darrin not only signed 3 cards for me, he read my letter and noted that I had enjoyed playing Tecmo Bowl as him back in the 80s.

 

 

 

G  152       Rush 1020       Yds  4442      Avg  4.4       TD 18      Lg 72T
Rec  286       Yds 2559       Avg  8.9     TD 5     Lg 68TKR 163         Yds 3659       Avg 22.4    TD 0    Lg 53
PR    42      Yds 357      Avg 8.5      TD 0      Lg 35