An electric player while at Nebraska, De’Mornay Pierson-El, played for the Cornhuskers from 2014-2017. Over that period the team tried hard to get the ball into his hands any way possible, whether it was rushing, receiving or punt returning. In 2014 he returned 3 punts for touchdowns, on 34 returns (596 yards), and in 2017 he had a career high 623 yards receiving on 45 catches (5 TDs).
After the 2018 NFL Draft, Pierson-El was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Washington Redskins. He then joined the Montreal Allouetttes briefly the next month, before finally landing on the squad of the AAF Salt Lake City Stallions. De’Mornay had a solid year for the Stallions leading the way for the wide receivers with 36 catches for 414 yards, a 2 point conversion, and a TD. (That TD marked the first score of the season at home for the Stallions.) His best game came against the San Diego Fleet, where Pierson-el posted 9 catches for 130 yards.
De’Mornay signed with the Raiders after the league fell apart. Following waiver wire reports like a hawk, I sent this to him immediately after he signed with the Raiders. He has been on and off the squad, which discouraged me from ever seeing this again, In fact Pierson-El was drafted by the St. Louis Battlehawks of the XFL 2020, but before he joined the team, he resigned with the Raiders again. It was at that point I guess he decided to pen this card and I received this one back only after a scant 240 days.
Card: Topps AAF 2019 Acquired: IP 2020, Houston Roughnecks / Tampa Bay Vipers Joint Practice See Also: Reggie Northrup II
After the AAF folded, Reggie’s football dreams did not end. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Vipers during the XFL 2020 draft.
When I heard that the Vipers and Roughnecks were doing a joint practice, Reggie was one of the top players I was after. I wasn’t sure if he’d be a viable TTM candidate due to his pending litigation against the former AAF. I thought perhaps he might have sour grapes over even signing autographs- so in person was the way to go.
Reggie stayed after the joint practice to work the kids clinic. I loved his energy, how he smiled, and had fun with all the kids. He made them each feel special. It so moved me that it made me wish that these sort of initiatives existed when I was a child, and that my father had taken me to one.
After the clinic ended Reggie and a few other players retrieved their backpacks and equipment that they had left stashed by the visitor’s wall. I caught him on the way out, and he beamed when I asked him for his autograph on his AAF card. He excitedly pointed out to his teammates that I had his card, and then when I asked him if he knew where Obum Gwacham was, he flagged him down for me! Then Reggie jokingly leaned in and said, “I didn’t even know he played for the Hotshots.” It was a great experience, and we wished each other the best and that the AAF didn’t need to end the way it did.
Reggie was on and off the roster of the Tampa Bay Vipers throughout the short 5 week season. His litigation against the former AAF is still pending.
With how things have happened since then with COVID, which occurred a month or two after this event, it seems so long ago now how I was able to go to public events like this and get autographs.
Blake Sims was Alabama’s starting quarterback in 2014. Starting all 14 contests, he was 252 of 391 for 3,487 yards and 28 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He also ran 78 times for 350 yards and 7 TDs. Blake was not selected in the 2015 NFL Draft and teams tried to pigeonhole him in at another position other than quarterback. Sims headed north to the Canadian Football League. There he was on the roster of both the Argonauts and the Roughriders during the 2015 season.
Blake then took his skills to an unusual destination: Australia. He was going to play for the Wollongong Devils of the National Gridiron League- but the league never got off the ground in 2016, so he returned to the United States and signed with the Falcons and spent time on their practice squad before ultimately ending his season on the practice squad of the Bucs.
After he was waived by the Bucs, Sims eventually signed with the Alliance of American Football. He was assigned to the Birmingham Iron and then later re-selected by the team with their second round pick during the QB Draft. Unfortunately he’d be injured and subsequently waived by the team before taking a regular season snap.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.