Category Archives: University of Texas

Degrate, Tony ‘The Great’

Card: University of Texas Upper Deck 2011
Acquired: EBay, 2020

Tony Degrate was a monster at defensive tackle, for the Texas Longhorns from 1982 to 1984- and is considered one of the finest D-linemen to play at the school. In his 1984 campaign, he amassed a then school defensive lineman record 123 stops and 12 sacks to clench the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman. All together, Tony had 47 career tackles for loss and 31 sacks.

The Tampa Bay Bandits made an offer to Degrate, which he turned down, but this ruffled the feathers of the concerned NFL who thought he had all but flown the coop. In the end, Tony was selected in the 5th round of the draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. After spending a season with the team, he saw time in camp with the Packers, and later the Bucs.

Tony’s story is a cautionary one, and I relate to him immensely. Degrate is a great talent who let those little nagging voices in his head get to him, and his confidence just kept slipping, and it affected him physically and mentally. Self doubt and guilt are terrible burdens to bear.

I can understand why he is a difficult autograph to get in any capacity, as he probably feels that he let a lot of people- and himself down. He went back to school and finished his art degree, but at one point I believe that he was a personal trainer in the Austin area.

Degrate’s first card came out in 2011 as part of the Upper Deck Texas set. There are 3 cards in the set of him, and he is very difficult to get an autograph from. He doesn’t sign TTM and when I attended an event at the UT Coop he was scheduled to be at, he cancelled at the last moment. I really liked this card of him leaping up and making a play, and I was more than happy to pick up this card via EBay at a reasonable price.

I hope Tony is doing well.

Treadwell, Johnny ‘Hammer- Hands’ (1941-2014)

Card: University of Texas Upper Deck 2011
Acquired: EBay, 2020

Johnny Treadwell played offensive guard and linebacker for the Texas Longhorns from 1960 to 1962 at a time when players played ironman football. A consensus All-American in 1961, Johnny earned SWC MVP Honors in 1962. Considered one of the best two way players in Texas football history, Johnny was the first player to make the #60 an iconic number for the Longhorns.

Another player from local Stephen F. Austin High School, Johnny’s moment in the sun occurred against the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1962. Forcing a TD saving fumble, Treadwell inspired his teammates to drive 90 yards for the winning touchdown. Johnny’s hit went down in Texas lore as simply, “The Tackle”, and cemented one of college football’s chief rivalries for years to come. Undersized, Johnny used his speed and power to violently level opposing ballcarriers with bone crushing hits, earning two nicknames during his playtime at UT: ‘Hammer-Hands’ and ‘Chopper’. He truly helped UT over the cusp of local dominance and into the National spotlight.

Playing in an era that did not see football as a professional job, Treadwell graduated from A&M’s veterinarian school after UT, and treated animals in Austin for 37 years. It has been confirmed he passed away from CET in 2014.

These cards were produced in 2011, so there was a short 3 year window for him to enjoy his first trading cards ever produced. It must have been quite the charge for him as a Lifetime Longhorn who embodied so much burnt orange to get his final due. That being said, he probably didn’t hand sign too many outside of the certified set. This autographed card was typically out of my price range, but after a very long wait, I was able to snipe this certified one out under $10.00 on EBay.

Bertelsen, Jim (1950-2021)

Card: University of Texas Upper Deck 2011
Acquired: EBay, 2020
Failure: TTM 2015 & 2018, C/o Home

Jim Bertelsen played alongside Steve Worster in the Texas wishbone offense. A reliable runner out of the backfield, Jim rushed for 740 yards on 104 carries and 13 TDs in 1969. He’d then rush for 891 yards and 13 TDs in 1970, and 879 yards in 1971. In both 1970 and 1971 Bertelsen was named All-SWC, and was team MVP as a Senior.

Jim was selected in the second round of the 1972 NFL draft. He’d play for the next five seasons for the team. His best season came in 1973 when he rushed 206 times for 854 yards and 4 TDs when he played fullback and was named to the Pro Bowl. Bertelsen switched back and forth between RB and FB over the remainder of his career, retiring after the 1976 season.

I had tried multiple times to get Jim’s autograph on his cards but had failed. In the end I frustratingly decided to get a copy of his certified autograph instead. At last glance he lived in Wimberly, Tx.

He passed away at the age of 71, in mid 2021. His cause of death was not released.