Category Archives: NFL

Hoge, Merril

Cards: Score 1989, Score 1990, Action Packed 1991, Fleer 1990
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Home
Sent: 10/20   Received: 10/27      (7 days)
Failure: 2011, C/o Home

Merril Hoge. Few players angered me more than Merril Hoge during the Red Gun/ Run ‘N Shoot era of the Houston Oilers. I considered him an ‘arch’ and he loved saying nasty things about the upstart Oilers, who by 1987 had started becoming bullies in the AFC Central under head coach Jerry Glanville. The Steelers had finally gone into a deep depression, and the Oilers were eager to take the stick to their rivals. Nobody expected much of the Steelers in 1989 as they had just come off of a 5-11 record from the previous year. Despite this they rallied down the stretch and put together a 9-7 record. The Oilers had thumped the Steelers twice during the regular season, but they’d be denied in the playoffs losing 26-23, causing Jerry to lose his job. I want to even say that Hoge said something to the media nasty about the Oilers, and it just stuck with me all those years.

I remember opening up my first packs of cards, and in a lot of cases, there was a Merril Hoge card to twist the knife just a little more. Even when I played Tecmo Super Bowl, I was reticent to use Merril because of the fact that he epitomized that Steelers working man mantra and the upset that made me so sore. Then after his playing days concluded, he became a commentator, and the Oilers left Houston even- I still got a furrowed brow when he’d come on ESPN. 


Dependable fullback Merril Hoge played for the Idaho State Bengals (a fact often repeated by national commentators almost every time he touched the ball) from 1983 to 1986. He finished his 4 years there with almost 5500 all-purpose yards, but more importantly the Big Sky Conference despite its trappings, prepared him for the rigors of pro level offenses.

After being selected in the 10th round of the 1987 draft, Merril played 7 seasons for the Steelers at fullback.  A versatile player out of the backfield, Merril was an excellent receiver and blocker who was rarely missed an assignment.  He had a career high 772 yards rushing in 1990, and a career high 487 yards receiving in 1988.

In 1994, Merril signed with the Chicago Bears, but suffered a terrible neck injury ending his career. Merril is also a cancer survivor beating non-hodskin’s lymphoma. 

Merril had a great selection of cards, so it was tough to even settle on just these 4. His Score 1990 is one of my favorite, and was from a rain soaked affair versus the Miami Dolphins that year. (Sammie Smith has a corresponding card from that game, and Mike Mularkey has been immortalized in a sports photo from that game that ProSet did.)  His Action Packed 1991 card does everything right in this one, and the determination on Merril’s face really makes you feel as though you are a part of the action.

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Watts, Armani

Card: Panini Contenders 2018
Acquired: 2018, Box Breaker

Armani Watts was a 4-year starter at free safety for the Texas A&M Aggies from 2014-2017. He had a nose for the ball, recording 324 combined career tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 10 interceptions (17 pass deflections). 

He’d be selected during the 2018 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, during round 4. Armani impressed enough during camp to make the final 52 roster. He finished 2018 with 5 combined tackles and a sack.

I like the design of this card, but its greatest strength is its greatest weakness in this case. Armani’s autograph at the bottom of the card is uninspiring or disappointing to say the least and you can tell by this point he was tired of signing autograph stickers. 

Hairston, Carl ‘Big Daddy’

Cards: ProSet 1991 Legends, Score Supplemental 1989
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Home
Sent: 10/20   Received: 10/27   (7 days)

During the Jurassic Period of football, there were some absolute beasts of defenders that took the league by storm in the 70s. One of them was Carl Hairston, a little known defensive lineman prospect out of UMES or (University of Maryland Eastern Shore). He played on some terrible teams during college, which allowed him to really hone his game. Hairston was named to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team 3 times. In his final year with the team, he posted 147 tackles and 15 sacks, good enough to get noticed by the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected Carl in the 7th round of the 1976 draft. 

He’d make the squad and in fact lead the NFL in sacks in 1979 (unofficially) with 15. Then in 1980, he’d help champion the defense that got the Eagles to Super Bowl XV.  Injuries began to slow Hairston down in 1983, and soon thereafter he’d be traded to the Cleveland Browns, where he’d be a mainstay on the line until 1989. He’d finish his career in Phoenix the following season. 

Carl has an extensive coaching resume at the Pro level, and has seen stops in the NFL (Phoenix, KC, St Louis, and Green Bay), UFL (Florida, Omaha), and CFL (British Columbia). He earned a Super Bowl ring as the defensive line coach for the St. Louis Rams (Super Bowl XXXIV). 

Carl is another one of these players who should probably be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A dominant lineman during his time, unofficially he has 1,141 tackles and 94 sacks to his name in 184 starts. 

Both of these are really nice cards of Carl. I almost feel like they are nods to him out of respect- like these card companies knew he was long in the tooth but they still wanted to pay him respects with their brand of card. The ProSet Legends 1991 card is an absolute gem. Merv Corning can make a player standing on the sideline look exciting, and this highly detailed image is no different with its nicks and bumps. It’s a fine card with excellent minimal design- which screams classy. The Score Supplemental 1989 had always been floating around my doubles box, so I had been kicking around the idea of getting it autographed for sometime. It’s unique because it’s obviously a special teams shot, but he’s just sort of popping up in a sea of helmets.

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