Category Archives: University of Texas

Thomas III, Earl

Cards: Panini UT 2016, Panini Contenders 2016, Topps Valor 2016
Acquired: IP 2019, Kickin It
Failure: 2017, C/o The Seattle Seahawks

Earl Thomas is from a long line of outstanding defensive backs that have come out of the University of Texas. After Michael Huff and Aaron Ross won the Jim Thorpe Awards back to back- it seemed like the best had already passed, but Earl Thomas had a year for the ages at UT in 2009, posting 65 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 8 interceptions for 149 and 2 TDs. He’d declare for the NFL draft and be selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the first round (14th overall) of 2010.

Immediately settling into the secondary at free safety, Earl formed a key component of the Seahawks legendary secondary, “The Legion of Boom”. His rookie season, Thomas posted 5 interceptions, 7 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and 76 combined tackles. He’d earn his first of 7 Pro Bowl appearances the following year in 2011, and his first of 3 straight AP nominations in 2012, notching a career high 122 tackles in 2014. That year the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. The love affair seemed as though it would never end, but in 2017 rumblings began to emerge that Earl was wanting a new contract. This manifested into a full blown brouhaha in 2018 as he held out of camp, expressing the desire to have the contract renegotiated or traded to another team that’d pay him. A few teams stepped forward and tried to kick off negotiations- namely the Cowboys and Chiefs. Neither were able to get a deal done with Seattle brass due to the Seahawks’ high asking price. He’d report to camp for the first game and play well through week 4- when his season ended abruptly with a broken leg. As he was carted off the field he gave the Seahawks brass the single finger salute. In 2019, Earl signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens where he quickly returned to his intercepting ways.

Earl has a shoe store in Austin called Kickin’ It in The Domain area. A bourgeois section of town, the shoe store wants to stand out from the competition as being a place for avid shoe fans to hang out. From time to time to promote the store and keep with the vibe, they will bring guests in for signings. Earl originally was supposed to be there with the store opening, but with his broken leg and all, he couldn’t fly (see Scott Erney). Eventually Earl was able to make it and boy did it turn into a circus quickly.

I planned to get there about 3 to 4 hours before the event began, thinking that I’d be at the front of the line, but I was beaten there by 4-6 people. I stood out in the freezing cold then until the event began, as the line began to swell while waiting for my new cohort, Jeff, to arrive. Once he arrived, we chatted and waited. The line by that point was easily 200 deep. When Earl arrived, he emerged from his car with his family, with his young baby was clad in Cowboys paraphernalia.

Earl to be honest wasn’t happy. I think he had already figured out there were some resellers in the crowd and people weren’t spending money, and while I tried to be friendly with him, his disposition was notably sour. He signed 2 cards for me. A woman in front of me, loved how I was chit chatting with her family and gave them a card, so she got two more cards signed for me. As you can see there are just 3 cards up here. That is because I gave Jeff the 4th so we both ended up with 3 autographs.

We got back in line, but it was a madhouse, and new rules were coming down from above. Anybody who wanted anymore than 1 autograph from Earl would have to spend 45 bucks in the store. This then changed to 30 bucks- but with fans still murmuring about the change of policy so suddenly, this then finally changed to a custom Earl Kickin It t-shirt. At that point Jeff and I decided we had enough and called it a day.

A few nitpicks of how the event was run by Kickin It. First, they should’ve issued wristbands. This would’ve fixed quite a few things. It would’ve allowed fans to not have to stay in line for hours, perhaps encouraging us to look around the store. It also would’ve discouraged SHILs. Look I was doing it to some degree waiting for Jeff, but the guy at the front of the line- who is a reseller, held the line for his entire family that showed up 15-20 minutes before the event- much to the chagrin of everybody behind him.

Secondly, Kickin It actually discouraged fans from walking around the store by telling them they’d lose their place in line if they decided to come in and browse around or try to warm up. I mean that just made no sense. Again, probably the wristbands would’ve nipped this in the bud.

Third and finally, there was no rules in place before the event posted. Autographs- yes. Great. Now tell people exactly what the rules are. Don’t tell people after its started you have to spend xx amount of money. That should’ve been decided on beforehand.

I really like the Panini Contenders 2016 card he signed. That was the top top of my list. The Panini UT card wasn’t bad either. It’s a fine shot of him with great shadows. I am not a super fan of the Valor card, it was a distant 4th, but I decided to keep it anyway as a vanity piece. A lot of people really like Valor and year I am OK with it in general, but it is not the default I go to get signed. Anyway, overall, I somehow managed to get Earl on a few items, which I am happy about- despite the circus.

I failed on Earl back in 2017 when he signed a spate of TTM requests. I may have cast too much shade unknowingly because I joked about how he always had his best games against the Cowboys- which I later found out has been his favorite team since he was growing up.

Kindle, Sergio

Cards: TNT UT, Score 2010, Topps Chrome 2010
Acquired: In Person 2018, MNF w/ the Horn

Sergio Kindle played collegially at the University of Texas from 2006-2010. A punishing, rangy player with a great motor who could line up at both defensive end and outside linebacker,  Kindle really started taking off in 2008, posting 53 tackles, 10 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and 2 fumble recoveries.  Kindle moved primarily to defensive end for 2009, (replacing Brian Orapko in the lineup). Sergio had 47 tackles, 3 sacks, and 17 tackles for loss in his Senior campaign. He had solid combine numbers, and was the highest rated outside linebacker (3-4 defenses), but thanks to some questionable decisions during his time at UT, his draft stock slid. 

The Ravens swooped in during the second round of the 2010 draft and selected Sergio. Unfortunately a series of tragic incidents befell Kindle before he hit the field for Baltimore. He’d lose his entire rookie season to a serious head injury- after falling down 2 flights of stairs and cracking his skull.  He’d then be later arrested for DUI, and then run into some financial issues. Still Sergio managed to see action in 2011, and then in 2012 spent some of the season on the Ravens’ practice squad. He’d be waived in 2013, ending his playing career.

Sergio was very nice at the Monday Night Football event hosted by The Horn. I had been dying to go to an event all year and this one lined up perfectly. He signed all three cards, and I gave him a stack of the TNT UT card that I made for him to keep- which he really appreciated. Sergio explained to me that the Ravens card photos were taken very early in camp and that he switched from 49 to 94 later once he settled in. Serge stayed for the event and teamed up for an interview show with Rod Babers. I won a $25.00 gift certificate to the place where the event was taking place.  

Sergio is planning to move back to the Dallas area where he hopes to go into coaching. He was intrigued when I mentioned the XFL and the AAF as a possible training ground for him to get his feet wet coaching.

Sergio Kindle has been floating around Austin since he retired from the league abruptly. I knew he worked at a car dealership for a while there, and thought about hitting him up that way, but this event just came along nicely and fit into my schedule.  Kindle was a great linebacker for UT so I went ahead and made him a card since he was in none of the legends sets. (I’ve pretty much retired the look from that set, but I have thought about making more Longhorn Legends cards recently.) I really like his Score 2010 card. It frames up pretty nicely on him and I knew it’d look good autographed. Sergio apologized for accidentally putting his college number on the card. I didn’t see anything wrong with it- but it was classy of him to care enough to let me know. His chrome issue actually looks better than the Score card autographed. The blue picks up really nicely on the canvas.  

There are a few more cards of his I wouldn’t mind getting signed, and I’ll probably go ahead and pick those up so I am stocked for the next time I catch him around town.

Stafford, Bret

Cards: UT Upper Deck 2011, UT Upper Deck 2011 All Time Alumni
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Home
Sent: 9/17   Received: 9/27    (10 days)

Bret Stafford was a prototypical drop back passer and one of the first modern era quarterbacks to stand tall in the pocket for the University of Texas, from 1984-1987. He set the school record for most passing yards in a season (2223, 1986), and also career passing yards (4731)- both since surpassed.

Frequently engaged in a quarterback competition or sharing a two-headed quarterback rotation with Todd Dodge for the majority of his time at Texas, Stafford’s numbers were largely skewed by his lack of playing time and having a different offensive coordinator every year. He also transitioned through the Fred Akers era into the David McWilliams epoch.

Although largely forgotten in the pantheon of Longhorn greats, Stafford was a winner with the Longhorns posting 19 victories as the starting quarterback including a 32-27 win over Pitt in the final Bluebonnet Bowl in 1987, when he threw for over 360 yards and 3 TDs.  

Stafford was probably the first quarterback I watched play for UT. I had a middling interest in the sport at the time, and I remember reading about the highlights of the Bluebonnet Bowl and being very proud of him going out like that in his final game.

I liked both his Upper Deck entries, but I wasn’t really a fan of the sepia toned All-Time Alumni card- considering how much color photography was used by then in sports.

As I have continued to mature in the hobby, I’ve become stale. I take less and less risks when I send out to addresses. I just haven’t been sending out to unproven addresses. Stafford had no successes on any of the autograph boards I frequent, but he had no attempts, little less an address to send of to, so I figured I’d give it a shot.  It didn’t take Bret long to respond to me- and I was pretty excited about receiving these two back.