Cards: Action Packed 1990, Photo Memorabilia
Acquired: In Person, Lenscrafters appearance 1992.
Back in the heyday of my autograph collecting I’d scour the local Austin paper for football players making appearances. Too Tall and Drew Pearson made one such appearance at a grand opening of a Lenscrafters in Barton Creek Mall back in 1992. Josh and I went there and arrived about 30 minutes early. (It’s too bad that about a 2 hour line had figured this out in front of us.) Ed was cool enough to sign both a card and the photo that the store provided to us (and really it was a duck shoot because all we had to do was wait in line to get it). The better story was the fact that we hadn’t really been to that mall often enough and got extremely lost for another 2 hours, finally giving up and walking around the perimeter of the indoor mall to leave.
Ed “Too Tall” Jones was the first overall pick of the 1974 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He’d form the foundation of the vaunted Cowboys’ “Doomsday Defense”. At 6″ 9′ Jones’ nickname “Too Tall” was apt even at his defensive end position. Too Tall receives little credit at a sacker, as sacks were not considered an official statistic until 1982. Jones would be named All Pro from 1981-1983, playing in 3 Superbowls and 15 seasons. He’d retire briefly in 1979 to go into boxing for about a season, but would return in 1980 after posting a 6-1 record. (It was quite a spectacle based on “Too Tall’s” size.) Ed would play for the Cowboys up through 1989, where he’d eventually retire, after Jimmy Johnson‘s first season as coach playing in 223 games. Jones’ impact on the Cowboys was immense, and he is another defensive player who was shortchanged from being in the NFL HoF, probably based on the sheer number of Dallas’ players enshrined, the tracking of sacks as an official statistic, and the overall lack of defensive talent in the hall.
Ed since retiring from football remains active as a guest speaker and firmly embraces his role as a former Cowboys player. “Too Tall” was named into the Van Heusen’s inaugural Pro Football Fan’s Hall of Fame in 2010 and also was named #26 on the Dallas Cowboys all time list. He plays golf regularly and also has made a few TV appearances, most notably on a Geico commercial spoofing on his own nickname.
Games 223 Tac N/a Sac 106 Fum 19
Int 3 Yds 14 Avg 4.3 Td 0
Cards: Proset 1990, Action Packed Rookies 1990, Score Supplemental 1990
Acquired: In Person, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp 1991, 1993, 1994
Max Montoya was drafted in the 7th round by the Cincinnati Bengals out of UCLA in 1979. After claiming the starting job he’d start at right guard for the formidable Bengals offensive line in 152 games over the next 11 seasons and 2 Superbowl appearances. Max would also be named to the ProBowl in 1986, 1988, and 1989 before signing with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1990.
Max’s signing with the Raiders was controversial at the time as GM Mike Brown had stated that Montoya had made a commitment not to look elsewhere. He immediately became the highest paid offensive lineman in the history of the Raider franchise. He went to the ProBowl one more time in 1993 before retiring in 1995. Max’s final statistics include starting 203 games over 16 seasons.
Max was always planning for life after football during his playing days. After briefly coaching football, Montoya became a franchisor of Penn Station East Coast Subs and is involved in real estate. He also owns his own Mexican restaurant in northern Kentucky called Montoya’s.
I got Max’s autograph in 1991, 1993 and 1994 at Dallas Cowboys Training Camp. One of my most comically bad moments in autograph collecting history occurred with Max Montoya. As Max passed down the line in what was commonly known as ‘autograph alley’ I was coaching another kid on how to get autographs. Max gave me his autograph but passed by the other kid who kept holding out his card forthe wrong player (Dallas wide receiver Alexander Wright
). I told the kid, “That’s not Max Montoya,” but Alex heard me, and embarrassingly took offense thinking that I was making a racial comment. Ace Wright obviously didn’t want to sign my card- or Max Montoya’s for that matter either.
Cards: Score Supplemental 1990
Acquired: In Person, Houston Oilers Training Camp 1990
See Also: Gerald McNeil (2)
After setting a variety of receiving records at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Gerald McNeil went undrafted out of college because he checked in at a tiny 5″7′, 145. Undaunted Gerald was picked up by the NFL’s fledgling competition, the United States Football League, where he played for the Houston Gamblers in 1984-1985 as one of offensive coordinator Mouse Davis‘ Mouseketeers. In the run and shoot offense (with Jim Kelly as his quarterback) Gerald snagged 58 receptions for 1017 yards, a 17.6 average and 6 touchdowns. He’d be named to the USFL’s All Star Team as a punt returner by the Sporting News.
After the USFL disbanded, McNeil was drafted in the NFL’s supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns. Electrifying fans with his speed, McNeil was nicknamed ‘Ice Cube’ due to his tiny stature and incredible elusiveness. In 1986, during his first season with the Browns, McNeil returned both a punt (84 yards) and a kickoff (100 yards) for a touchdown. Gerald was primarily used as a return specialist during his career and earned a Pro Bowl nomination for his electrifying play in 1987. After finishing first in punt returns with 49 in 1989, Gerald was signed via Free Agency by the Houston Oilers in 1990. They hoped that he would duplicate his performance in the USFL and spell one of the Fab Four when they needed a sub, plus Bud Adams always enjoyed taking swipes and divisional competition. Gerald continued to be the primary punt and kick returner and get some spot playing time in his final season, retiring as a Houston Oiler after the 1990 season.
I got Gerald’s autograph at training camp that season while he was on the Oilers. Yes he was small- and a really nice guy. He had not seen his Score 1990 Supplemental card before and asked me if I had an extra. (It was the first time a player had put me on the spot like that.) Flabbergasted I told him I’d send him one. Back in those days though without the internet, it was hard to track down singles. I was able to get the card, but he retired before I was able to get it to him.
Games 76 Ret 91 Yds 1852 Avg 20.4 Lg 100T Td 1 | Pr 191 Yds 1717 Avg 9.0 Td 1 Lg 84T