It’s been a long 30 years plus since I got Troy Aikman on a card so to get him on not one- but two cards, left me quite elated. I had seen that he was in town promoting his new beer line, Eight, and was kicking myself that I missed out on a previous event that he was involved in. Serendipitous timing led Aikman back to the area again, and I pounced when I saw that he was appearing literally 5-10 miles from my house at a local strip of bars.
It was a great event, as I caught up with my cohorts Jeff and Mark. I hadn’t seen Jeff since before the pandemic, and this was his first in person event since then. We sat around and tried out Eight beer. It was actually pretty good!
Soon thereafter Troy appeared behind the bar and began tossing out beers and handing out pints. I narrowly missed catching one of them, and then he started signing memorabilia in earnest. After I pushed Jeff into the crowd, he signed a mini for Jeff and then my Action Packed card- a dire set need. We bit our nails until Mark got his- the very last person on the first bar he visited.
We decided to take a shot at the second bar for another autograph. and after the same set up, came away with the same results. I was scratching my head between 3 different cards, but in the end decided to go with the Impact card. As he was signing the card, he smiled and stared directly into my eyes. I took it as quite genuine, but also as a warning to not try to press for three.
Card: Upper Deck 2009, Score 2009 Acquired: In Person 2019, San Antonio Commanders v San Diego Fleet Failure: TTM 2016, C/o Home
Hines Ward played 14 seasons in the NFL from 1998-2011. After posting decent numbers for the Georgia Bulldogs (144 receptions for 1965 yards and 11 TDs) over his college career, Ward was selected in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although he didn’t find immediate success, by 2001 Hines was really starting to round out as a marquee receiver, posting his first (of 4) 1,000 yard campaigns, and first (of 4) Pro Bowl appearances. In 2002, he’d have a career high 112 receptions for 1329 yards and 12 TDs. Hines won Super Bowl XL MVP honors after catching 5 passes for 123 yards and a TD. Despite legendary names in the Steelers wide receiver corps, Hines finished at the top of most of the team’s charts before retiring.
He’s dabbled here and there in sports commentary and as a celebrity judge, but it was when he was given the opportunity to be involved with the AAF that he has really seemed to jump out there.
After getting lucky with Troy Polamalu at the San Antonio Commanders team reveal, I stocked up on other executives for the inaugural game. The ticketing office hit a snafu with me on my tickets and offered me a floor pregame pass during the season. I asked to get on the field for the opening game- but I was told that the league was expecting a lot of executives for the event. I took this as a good omen. Sure I could’ve kicked myself for not packing a card of Kurt Warner who was broadcasting the game, but I was happy as it was just to get Hines.
Standing in the front row of the endzone, nobody noticed Hines. I waited until he got a good, close distance to me and called him over. He hesitated for a moment and then told his guest he was going to sign some autographs. I think he signed for two reasons. One, he had made it so long without somebody recognizing him wandering around the stadium, so I had to be a fan. Two, Hines is all on board with the league and its mantra. He is genuinely excited to share the vision of the league with fans.
Later when I posted the autograph to one of the message boards on Facebook, I found out that I was lucky to not only get two autographs out of him- but that I also got his full signature.
If I hadn’t gotten another autograph for the rest of the evening I would’ve still been tickled pink about it, as I learned firsthand that he can be a erratic signer back in 2016. This Upper Deck 2009 was amazing, and the photo is a rare treat. Hines put the autograph to the canvas perfectly! It compliments the image well and makes it feel even more exciting. The 2009 Score was a set need. I wanted the 2010 Score, but I thought just getting two autographs from Hines was greedy enough.
Card: Action Packed 1990
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Home
Sent: 12/12/16 Received: 1/3/17 (22 days)
See Also: Mark Rypien
The first success I got in calendar 2017, Mark Rypien was kind enough to sign 1 of 3 cards I sent him. He inscribed the one card with Super Bowl XXVI MVP, which I thought was still cool. Rypien’s family drips with athleticism. His daughter has carried on in his footsteps and is a quarterback in the Lingerie Football League, while his Nephew, Brett is a starting quarterback for Boise St.
In 2014 the Washington Redskins inducted Mark into their Ring of Fame. Rypien spent eight seasons with the Redskins. From 1986 to 1993 he started 72 games for the Redskins, completing 1,244 passes for 15,928 yards and 101 touchdowns. Modestly, Rypien dedicated his enshrinement to his teammates and the 55,000 or so fans that showed up every week to cheer on the team during his magical 1991 Super Bowl and MVP run.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.