Category Archives: NFL

Mecklenburg, Karl ‘Albino Rhino’

Cards: Fleer 1990, Proset 1989
Acquired: TTM 2010, C/o home
Sent: 2/15 Received: 3/15 ( 28 days)

Nobody paid much attention when with the 310th pick of the infamous 1983 draft, the Denver Broncos took a flyer on a little known linebacker named Karl Mecklenburg out of the University of Minnesota.  Mecklenburg would just go on to play for 12 seasons, leading them on defense during the Bronco’s Superbowl runs during the 1980s. Nickamed the ‘Albino Rhino’ by teammates, Mecklenburg finished his career with 79 sacks and over 1100 tackles.  Since football, Mecklenburg has established the REACH foundation, written a book about his experiences as a player (“Heart of a StudentAthlete”) and been inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Honor. He also does extensive public speaking and resides in Littleton, Colorado with his wife and three children. I sent off for Karl’s autograph, and got a fairly quick response from him with a note about his book in a little under a month.

The verse included is from the bible. (Philippians 4:8) “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Games 180      Tac 1104     Sac 79.0    FF 16     Int 5      Yds 128     Avg 25.6    Td 0

Shepard, Derrick (1964-1999)

Cards: Fleer 1990
Acquired: In person, Dallas Cowboys training camp 1990.

I got Derrick on day two or three at my first Cowboys training camp. He was more than happy to stop and sign any cards that fans had and was genuinely a nice guy even though the players were engaged in blisteringly hot two a days.

Derrick was basically trying to live the dream and find a home in the NFL after not being drafted into the league. He was signed as a free agent by the Redskins, and made an impression as a backup kick returner/ punt returner winning a Superbowl in 1987. A speedster, Shepard was signed via free agency by the Saints in 1989 and played 4 games before hitting waivers again, where the Cowboys signed him immediately to fill a utility role. Derrick got valuable playing experience at WR  and in special teams, starting 8 games, making 18 catches, and scoring the only receiving touchdown of his career.  In both 1989 and 1990 he’d lead the team in punt returns, but his role would be shifted to back up in 1991.

Transitioning out of his life as a player, Shepard began a coaching career at the high school level and then later returned to the University of Oklahoma, (his alma mater) before becoming the wide receivers coach at Wyoming in early in 1999. A few weeks later while playing racquetball Derrick suffered a fatal heart attack and died. He was only 35. Derrick Shepard is survived by his wife and three children.

G 36   Rec  20   Yds  304    Avg  15.2    TD 1   Lg 37
KR 51  Yds  1007   Avg 19.7    TD 0     LG 44
PR  75    Yds 679     Avg  9.1     TD 1      Lg  73

Townsend, Greg

Card: Action Packed 1990
Acquired: In person 1992, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp
See also: Greg Townsend (2)

Drafted in the 4th round of the 1983 draft from TCU by the Los Angeles Raiders, Townsend was a shrewd pick by Al Davis.  Greg would go on to play for the team for 11 seasons (and an additional season for the Eagles in 1994) grabbing All Pro honors from 1988-1991. A dominating force from the defensive end position Townsend retired in 1997 with the Raiders as the team’s all time sack leader and is ranked 16th on the NFL sack list (as of 2010). He also is a member of the Superbowl champion XVIII Raiders team from1984 where they beat the Redskins 38-9.

During practice I enjoyed harassing players from the practice field fence. Greg came over to use the porta potty, where I asked him to give me his autograph. He sarcastically responded, “Hey kid! You want that in white or yellow?” We had a good laugh and he told me that he had to get back to practice but to hit him up afterwards as he’d have no problem with that. Good times. Townsend currently works for the silver and black.

G/GS   190/102    TAC n/a        SAC 109.5          FUM 8
INT 3     YDS 117     AVG   39.0     TD 1        LG  86t