Topps Fire 2015, #18Panini Contenders Draft Picks, #96
After he smudged one of the cards I wanted him to sign that I had previously sent to him, I waited a year and gave him another shot on two more cards. He did however return that Upper Deck College Legends in almost record time in just 4 days flat.
Topps really had come a long way over the years, and their Fire branded entry was really high end stuff. When I got this card, I knew I wanted to eventually get it signed. Tony appears in most of the Panini stuff, and I still need to possibly go back and get him on one last card or two, but who knows if he will still be signing by then as CTE has really taken its toll on the former stalwart back.
Card: Upper Deck College Legends 2011 Acquired: EBay, 2020
It’s an interesting footnote that Jason White is the last Heisman Trophy Winner since the 40s not to be drafted to play professionally in the NFL. Largely though, most of his accomplishments are embodied in his college career, where he won the National Championship in 2001, and then he later won the Heisman in 2003, and multiple other trophies and accolades throughout his playing time in both 2003 and 2004. Much of White’s lack of NFL interest could be attributed to his injury history, pertaining to his knees, losing both his 2001 and 2002 campaigns largely to ACL injuries.
Jason threw for 3,846 yards on 278 of 451 passing, with 40 TDs to 10 interceptions in his Heisman season of 2003. He attempted to become one of the rare back to back Heisman winners in 2004, throwing for 35 TDs and 3,205 yards- but ultimately lost out to Matt Leinart.
Although going undrafted, Jason eventually was signed by the Tennessee Titans, but thanks in part to his injury history opted not to play. Jason continues to stay close to the sport. He has run a memorabilia and a shoe store for sometime, and his alma mater has honored him with a bronze statue on campus. Eventually Jason has expressed a desire to go into coaching. Largely however, White has flown under the radar.
I like this set, not only because it has a lot of great players in it otherwise not covered, but because it’s really a companion piece to me of Upper Deck Legends 1997. This card didn’t set me back any to acquire, which was surprising because Jason was a Heisman winner.
Matt Leinart attended USC and played QB for the Trojans, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2004 and multiple awards during his college career. After taking over for Carson Palmer in 2003, Leinart won Associated Press National Championships in 2003 and 2004, and would’ve capped off his Senior year with another victory- if not for that pesky Texas Longhorns squad in the Rose Bowl. He’d finish as the Trojans all-time leading cumulative passer in many categories including completion percentage (64.8%) and TDs (99).
He’d be selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the 10th overall pick of the 2006 draft. Contentious negotiations caused a holdout, and as a result Kurt Warner stepped up as starter. Still Matt played well during his rookie season, setting a new benchmark for a rookie, in single-game passing yardage with 405 yards, against the Vikings. He’d start 11 games in the end, but sprain his shoulder to conclude his rookie year. The numbers weren’t bad for a rookie campaign, especially since it was the Cardinals. Matt had 2547 yards and 11 TDs to 12 interceptions. – This would actually represent a high mark statistically for his career.
Handed the starting QB job by new coach Ken Whisenhunt in 2007, Leinart broke his collarbone in early October- ending his season. He’d finish with 647 yards passing and 2 TDs in 5 starts. Warner took over as starter in 2008 as Matt rode the bench playing sporadically through 2009. He’d again regain the mantle as starter in 2010, but lose out in camp to Derek Anderson, and later be cut by the team.
The Houston Texans signed Matt as their backup to incumbent Matt Schaub, but he didn’t see any significant playing time. The Texans were having one of their finest seasons in 2011, but after Matt Schaub suffered a lins franc injury, Leinart stepped in as starter against the Jags. At first everybody waited with baited breath to see what Leinart would do, but he came out firing going 10 of 13 for 57 yards and a TD- before he broke his collarbone and yielding to the legend known as ‘TJ Yates’. Leinart again finished on IR for the season.
Cut by the Houston Texans in 2012, Matt played for the Raiders for one season- backing up former teammate Carson Palmer. He’d then be in camp briefly for the Bills in 2013, but after being cut, elected to retire.
I was not a great fan of Matt Leinart. After he played at USC, and then lost to the University of Texas in the Rose Bowl, he was I guess, caught off guard, and just said all the wrong things to the camera. It pretty much set up my dislike for him, as I felt he was trying to take something away from UT for beating the Trojans in the game.
It’s whatever. I think we’re the better football team. You know, they just made the plays in the end.
What I got out of it was, “The best team didn’t win today,” And unfortunately when you lose any game, you are not the best team on that given day- so I though the comment reeked of bad sportsmanship- especially when the best team is the one that always wins!
When he came to the Texans, I was initially not happy about the arrangement at all, but mellowed on him after listening to how he’d changed his life and abandoned his hard partying ways. He grew on me, and I was actually sad when the team cut him in 2012.
As of 2019, Matt does studio analysis for Fox Sports College Football. I had hoped to corral Matt at the Longhorns USC game in 2018, but he didn’t appear, so I went ahead and gave him a shot in the dark after getting some encouragement and tips from my friend Deadhorse. After 4 months or so I got quite a jolt out of getting both of these autographs back- that’s for sure!
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.