Category Archives: NFL

Gilbert, Garrett

Cards: Topps AAF 2019, Topps Now 2.17.19, Topps Now 2.25.19, Topps Now 3.23.19
Acquired: IP 2019, Fozzy Whittaker and Garrett Gilbert Football Camp

This event completely exceeded my expectations. Since it was raining, the event was held indoors at the Del Valle Sports Complex right next to the stadium. Instead of running through too many drills, Garrett and Fozzy ended up playing something with the kids that I hadn’t seen before but was total genius: Ultimate Football. It was fun and entertaining to watch. If this is what the XFL has in mind for their overtime periods, it looks like an exciting way to end a game.

Afterwards, Garrett and Fozzy set up autograph tables and signed everything for everyone- and I mean everything. If I had only won that last Topps AAF Now card of Garrett’s I would have run the table- but as it is I am happy that he signed these 4 cards. In fact he signed the 4 plus all the additional copies I had of the Topps AAF 2019 base cards that I ended up giving away to all my hobby friends/ contacts- with the stipulation that they send Garrett a thank-you note.

I also got to finally meet one of my new proteges in person- Mark, and we talked for a few minutes about the hobby before disembarking for the afternoon. It was a very successful time, and I did get to talk to Garrett briefly about the AAF.

Garrett is the son of former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert. He was highly recruited coming out of high school and reminded many teams of the Oliver Luck- Andrew Luck connection. Texas was ecstatic to get him and groomed him to be Colt McCoy’s heir when he left UT. Things don’t necessarily go as planned, and as UT was still in its prime fans were expecting another title run. UT worked its way through the schedule in 2009, and fought its way into national title contention. It was a big game against Alabama, and Colt McCoy was singlehandedly giving Alabama a run for its money- but then he got injured. Garrett who was a Freshman came in, and while he did give Alabama a fight for its money initially- he turned the ball over 5 times and Texas lost the game. It was not the best situation for Garrett to get his first meaningful game time.

Things were optimistic going into 2010, and Gilbert was named starting QB at Texas, but the team slipped to 5-7- Texas’ first losing record in over 10 years. Fans were calling already for Mack Brown’s head, so the head coach put every job up for grabs including quarterback. Garrett lost out in camp in 2011 to David Ash and Case McCoy. Nursing a shoulder injury he decided to transfer out of Texas.

Fans treated Gilbert badly although he spent a lot of his time in the Austin area. He transferred to SMU which most people scoffed at- but in reality, this was a great move for him, playing under offensive guru and quarterback whisperer June Jones.

After a rough start in 2012, Garrett really turned the corner in 2013, posting career college highs in nearly all categories (335 completions, 66.5% completion percentage, 3,528 yards, 21 TDs to just 7 interceptions, and a 136.2 QB rating. He also set numerous SMU and a few UT records while at each school.

Garrett was selected in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the then St Louis Rams. He then spent time on practice squads and emergency quarterback roles around the league from 2014 to 2016 (Rams, Patriots, Lions, Raiders, Panthers), never really getting his chance to show what he could do.

Gilbert decided to give the AAF a shot to jumpstart his career. He’d be selected by the Orlando Apollos during the QB draft and hone his skills under Steve Spurrier. It was a great combination as Gilbert ended up being the defacto league MVP. Clear and away the best QB in the league, Gilbert led the league in most passing categories. He’d earn league offensive player of the week honors after blasting the San Antonio Commanders- throwing for a league record 393 yards. He even got some notoriety for catching a pass for a touchdown on a trick play. Things were looking really good for Gilbert and the Apollos as they zoomed out to a 7-1 record and claimed the division title outright.

It was then the league collapsed. The Apollos were caught by surprise by the announcement. There would be no playoffs. No championship. No crowning of a winner. No MVP. It. Was. Over. Just like that.

Despite the collapse of the AAF, Garrett has been able to parlay his achievements with the league into a contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Omwualu, James

Card: Sage 2017
Acquired: 2018, Box Breaker

James Onwualu played for Notre Dame from 2013 to 2016. Originally a wide receiver, James was converted during his Freshman season in 2013. During his Senior campaign in 2016, he posted 77 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 5 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles. Still considered raw at the position, he’d go unselected in the 2017 NFL draft. Onwualu signed with the Los Angeles Chargers and made the team. He’d suit up in 9 games and record 8 combined tackles before being cut late in the season, and then resigned to the practice squad. James was given an injury waiver in 2018 and currently is a free agent.

Bennett, Ben

Card: ProSet 1991 WLAF Insert
Acquired: 2018, EBay
Failure: TTM 2014, C/o Home 

Ben Bennett was a prolific quarterback for the Duke Blue Devils finishing as one of the top passers in NCAA history, throwing for 9614 yards on 820 completions (1375 attempts) and 55 TDs from 1980 to 1983. 

Selected in the 6th round of the 1984 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons, but ended up playing in the USFL for the Jacksonville Bulls. Bennett then bounced around camps for the Falcons, Oilers, Cowboys, and Bears, eventually seeing a little action playing for the Bengals in ’87.  He’d join the Arena Football league playing for the Chicago Bruisers in 1988 and 1989, leading the team to the championship in the latter season. After playing for the Dallas Texans in 1990, he was selected by the Sacramento Surge of the WLAF during the first round of the positional draft. 

Ben was expected to be the starter for the Surge, but he’d be supplanted by former KC Chiefs 2nd round pick, Mike Elkins- who took all the snaps after the first game. Bennett returned to the Arena Football League later that year with the Orlando Predators.  Ben at this point became a star for the young league. He’d play for Orlando through 1995, before taking one season pitstops with both the San Jose SabreCats and the Portland Forest Dragons.  Ben is known in Arena lore for the ‘Miracle Minute’ in which he engineered a 16 point comeback in under 1 minute. Ben was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 2000. 

Outside of his impressive Arena Football resume, Ben has been involved as coach for the Milwaukee Mustangs (1998), Greensboro Prowlers (2000), Florida Bobcats (2001), Florida Firecats (2002-2004), Manchester Wolves (2005-2007), Austin Wranglers (2008), Orlando Fantasy LFL (2010), the New Orleans Voodoo (2011), and the Orlando Predators (2012). 

I had previously tried to get Ben way back in 2011, but had no luck. Since then, I’ve seen no successes or addresses for him that I could use, so I went ahead and just picked this autograph up off of EBay after verifying its integrity. 

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