Lee, Carl

Cards: ProSet 1991 All NFC Team, ProSet 1989, Action Packed 1990
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 1/7/19 Received: 2/9/19 (31 days)

Carl Lee played defensive back for the Marshall Thundering Herd where he was primarily known as a speed merchant. He recorded 3 interceptions over his time at Marshall and was selected in the 7th round of the 1983 NFL Draft. It is notable as Carl was the 35th DB off the board, but would go on to have a stellar NFL career.

In 84 he’d notch a career high 100 tackles playing at free safety, before making the transition to corner where he’d play for the remainder of his career. Carl’s best season came in 1988 when he finished second in the league with 8 interceptions for 118 yards and a league leading 2 touchdowns. He’d earn his first of 3 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances for the Vikings top rated defense and play with the franchise through 1993. He’d play one final season in 1994 for the New Orleans Saints and retire.

Since that time, Carl has spent time coaching at the college level and was head coach for West Virginia State from 1996-2005. He was also inducted into the Thundering Herd Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995 for his contributions in both football and track.

Carl signed these 3 cards for me in roughly 30 days. A dependable signer, Carl has a very good autograph, that is encapsulated well on all 3 of these canvases. Pro Set for once fell on its face with their contribution. It’s a good action shot on their 1989 entry but it feels notably dated with the artifacts floating around on top of the photo shot. His 91 Pro Set All-NFC card illustration is top notch however and the black autograph over the white canvas is striking. I really liked this Action Packed 1990 card. The lighting is excellent on this photo and it has the right amount of pop.

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Searcy, George

Card: Wild Card World League 1992
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 11/18/19 Received: 1/2/20 (45 days)

George played ball for Eastern Tennessee State from 1987-1990. A big an powerful tailback, George set many rushing records for the Bucs that still stand today. A member of the Bucs upset win in 1987 over NC State- Searcy caught a TD pass to help cinch the win. He then ran for 210 yards over the Citadel in 1989- a season in which he ran for 1,324 yards on 275 carries, and scored 17 TDs, winning the Southern Conference’s Offensive MVP Award. During that season he logged 5 games with over 30 carries and 4 games with 3 TDs. George closed out his career for the Bucs with 462 carries for 2,262 yards.

George was not selected in the 1990 NFL Draft. He signed as a rookie free agent with the Washington Redskins, but did not make the squad. He joined the San Antonio Riders in 1992 after being selected in the 6th round of the player draft. He was a key cog in the Riders World League leading rushing offense, blocking up front and spelling for league leader Ivory Lee Brown that year. George ran 43 times for 195 yards. A dependable receiver out of the backfield, Searcy caught 36 passes for 267 yards and a TD. After the World League folded George stayed in playing shape, and showed up again briefly on the radar of the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts in 1995.

I was positive that I had already taken a shot at George back 5-7 years ago, but after researching my records, I determined I had not. After doing some digging online, I found out that his daughter lived in Florida. The breadcrumbs slowly led me to him, so I decided to throw this card out there and take a shot.

He signed this card in 45 days and included this nice note:

i am sorry for the delay in returning the card. Thanks for being a fan. I had a great time playing in San Antonio. Good luck with your mission.

Merry X-Mas,
George Searcy #20

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Burns, Jerry

Cards: ProSet 1989, ProSet 1990, ProSet 1991
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 11/21 Received: 12/23 (32 days)

Jerry Burns played quarterback at Michigan from 1947-1950. He quietly ascended the college ranks, including a head coaching stop at Iowa. In 1967, Burns joined Vince Lombardi’s staff at Green Bay. He’d serve on Lombardi’s staff for the Packers Super Bowl I and II victories before Jerry was poached by division rival Minnesota, to serve as head coach Bud Grant’s offensive coordinator.

Jerry was forward thinking for the time. Arguably he can be considered one of the pioneers of what was later popularized as the West Coast Offense, as his team’s short to intermediate passing game, supported by runningbacks predated the Walsh era by a few years with Fran Tarkenton. Jerry served as offensive coordinator for 18 years- eventually succeeding Grant as head coach in 1986.

As head coach, Burns guided the Vikings to the playoffs from 1987 to 1989, losing to the Redskins in the 1987 NFL Championship Game, and then the 49ers in the divisional round in both 1988 and 1989. His teams were actually known more for stacked defensive talent than anything else, and he posted a 52-43 record over 6 seasons. Burns retired after the 1991 season, after posting an 8-8 record.

I love writing players who share with me history and information about their lives, and I had heard that Jerry loves getting fan mail, so I thought it was worth the shot. About a month later I received this very nice letter in the mail from his daughter, Kelly. Jerry is in his 90s now, and getting him to recall these memories makes him feel great. She kindly paraphrased and wrote down Jerry’s responses to my questions.

What was your favorite moment as a coach?

“He’s had so many wonderful moments but finally becoming the Vikings Head Coach!”

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Did you have a signature Bread and Butter play you liked to call?

Of course- being an offensive guy- the pass was his favorite- short pass and run!!

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Who was your favorite player to coach over the years?

Ricky Young and my Dad have always been close- and to this day!! They are super close!!

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What is your secret to longevity?

My beautiful wife who has always been my best friend and who has always cared for me- and my family.

Kelly and the Burns family humbled me by thanking me for my letter and letting me know that they very much enjoyed it.

Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.