Bell, Jim

Card: Proset WLAF 1991
Acquired: In Person, 1992 San Antonio Riders v Birmingham Fire

Jim Bell was originally drafted in the 11th round by the San Fransisco 49ers in 1989 where he was placed on the team’s practice squad. In 1991 the Barcelona Dragons drafted Jim in the 2nd round of the WLAF’s positional draft reuniting him with his former college coach from Boston College, Jack Bicknell. Bell led the Dragons in rushing in 1991, rushing for 367 yards but only on a measly 2.7 average. In 1992 Bell was traded to the Birmingham Fire who were looking for looking for a change of pace in their backfield. Jim averaged 4.2 yards a carry that season. When the league decided to reorganize after the 1992 season Jim hung up his cleats and retired.

Since football Jim has become the creator and co founder of the company Foamheads, which markets a variety of sports fan foam head wear and collectibles.

Games 10   Att  230  Yds  748  Avg 3.3  Lg 22  Td  6
Rec 16  Yds  116    Avg 7.5   Lg 21  Td 1

Hill, Drew (1956-2011)

Cards: Topps 1982, Fleer 1990, Proset 1990, Proset 1991.
Acquired: In Person, Houston Oilers Training Camp 1990, TTM, C/o Home 2010
Sent: 3/26    Received 4/6  (11 days)

Drew Hill is a receiver who has gotten no respect. Barely a blip went by when in the 12th round the speedster out of Georgia Tech was selected by the Rams in the 1979 draft. In the beginning of his career the LA Rams used Hill primarily as a kick returner. By his final season with LA in 1984 Drew would finally be getting some credit as a receiver pulling down a monstrous 27.9 yards per catch on 14 receptions. Hill was traded to the very bad Houston Oilers squad in 1985 and immediately started paying dividends as Warren Moon‘s primary receiver. Over the course of the next 7 years Hill grabbed 634 receptions and 7477 yards and stretched defensive secondaries to their limit, averaging an electrifying 15.5 yards per catch, including a 20.2 yard average on 49 receptions in 1987.  He went to the ProBowl in 1988 and 1990 and tied Haywood Jeffires for the AFC lead in receptions with 72 catches. In 1992 the Oilers let Drew go via free agency. The knock on him was that he was too old at 36. He signed with his homestate Falcons, being reunited with former Oiler coach Jerry Glanville and put over 1000 yards into his Falcon career, retiring after the 1993 season as an Atlanta Falcon. Hill at the time of his departure from the Oilers was the all time leader in catches and yards, and second in touchdowns. He averaged an amazing 70.5 yards per game with the Oilers. (Since then his records were broken by Haywood Jeffires and Ernest Givins.)  Among Drew Hill’s lesser known accomplishments is that he is the first person to score a touchdown in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s beating HoF member James Lofton by a game and ironically (to Bud Adams chagrin,) he was the first player to notch four 1,000 yard seasons after the age of 30.

Drew since retirement has returned to his Georgia roots where he lives in relative anonymity. I sent for his autograph TTM after locating his address on another site. I did a bit of research on him and was dismayed that somebody with the same name had been posing as him claiming to be a fine artist. When Drew wrote back, he informed me that the artist “wasn’t me.” Although slightly embarrassing to me, I hope it called attention to him that there was somebody out there usurping his good name.

I got Drew’s autograph after training camp in 1990 one day where he was thoroughly exhausted. He was a really nice guy, but of few words. His autograph felt like his personality (understated) and I really wanted to get it again when I decided to mail out to some of my favorite Oilers earlier this year.  I was really angry when the team let him go via free agency and felt when they did it exposed a chink in the team’s armor.

Games  147      Rec 634         Yds 9831           Avg 15.5          TD 60         LG  81t

FOLLOWUP:

11/25/2010

Less than two weeks after I wrote this, I was contacted by Jerry Crowe of the LA Times for an interview about ‘the real Drew Hill’. Apparently Mr. Crowe had been visiting the Men’s Central Jail poking around about ‘the artist’ Drew Hill being in jail, not knowing his fake identity. When he asked them about Mr. Hill, the corrections officers revealed to Jerry that ‘the artist’ was not the real Drew Hill, referring to my website as supplemental proof.  (Thanks corrections office! You know who you are.)

Amused, Jerry tracked me down, and contacted me for an interview since I was living locally in the area so that he could have ‘more ammo’ for his talk with the artist inmate. We discussed my brief involvement in the situation, how I had been in touch with the ‘real’ Drew Hill via the mail, and that Jerry had indeed spoken to and interviewed ‘the real’ Drew Hill in Georgia. He said that he may use my information in a further interview with the inmate and was amazed by what a small world this was with the coincidental timing of the situation, my post and the fact I lived in the greater LA area, but none of this unfortunately ever made the article and thusly I get no props for my super ‘sleuthiness’. You can read the article in its entirety here. A second article is a follow-up from the Santa Monica Daily Press, where the original call for help was issued for the impostor.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/26/sports/la-sp-crowe-20100927
http://www.smdp.com/pdf/100110.pdf

3/19/2011

On Thursday March 17th, 2011, Drew was golfing and fell ill. Although he was transported to the hospital shortly thereafter, Hill suffered two strokes and passed away on March 18th, 2011.  He was 54. It should be noted that the Associated Press even got some of his information wrong, stating not only the wrong date on his All Pro seasons, but also that he was an artist, – a claim that he disputed when I sent him mail last year.

Turner, Kevin (1969-2016)

Card: Star Pics 1992
Acquired: In Person, 1995. Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp

Fullback Kevin Turner while at Alabama would block for not only for 1000 yard back Bobby Humphrey but also Alabama great Siran Stacy. Drafted by the New England Patriots in the 3rd round of the 1992 draft, Kevin Turner was the prototypical fullback. In his career in New England, Turner on occasion spurred big plays and rightfully became a fan favorite. In 1993 he lateraled a ball to teammate Leonard Russell that Russell would take 72 yards to paydirt, and later in that season Kevin rumbled 49 yards to set up the winning score versus the Browns. In 1994, Kevin caught the game winning pass in overtime against the Minnesota Vikings which spurred the Patriots on a 7 game winning streak to make the playoffs. He’d play for the Patriots for 3 seasons before joining the Philadelphia Eagles as a restricted free agent. Turner became a fan favorite for the Eagles as well- due in part to his blue collar attitude and efficiency. A hard nosed blocker and occasional receiver out of the backfield he’d play with the Eagles an additional 5 seasons before retiring after his 8th season due to cervical stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column,) and the crippling injuries he had suffered earlier in his career.

Since his retirement, Turner has had multiple surgeries to remove parts of his spinal column,  and tragically in 2010 Turner was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease which is rumored to be linked to concussions. The NFL has attempted to take a more assertive approach to concussions but still lags behind in its treatment and veteran assistance.

Games  58      Att  160   Yds 635    Avg 4.0     Td  1     Lg  45
Rec 236      Yds 2015      Avg  8.5      Td 10     Lg 41

UPDATE 3/24/16: Kevin passed away today in hospice care, surrounded and loved by his family and friends. The cause of his death was Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

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