Smith, Al

Cards: Proset 1991, Fleer 1995, Score 1991, Score 1992, Action Packed 1992
Acquired: In Person, Highland Mall 1992. Oilers Training Camp 1995. TTM, 2010 C/o home.
Sent:  6/24        Received: 7/10   (16 days)

In 1992 the Oilers were doing a media and fan blitz outside of their normal home territory and were appearing at a local mall sending in coach Jim Eddy, Jeff Alm and Al Smith. It was one of my first memorable face to face interactions with players and Al and Jeff cracked jokes with me while they set up the tables in front of the food court. Al signed my Pro Set 1991 and then jokingly told me I could have probably carried in the table for them. It was a kind and cherished moment at an emotional time of my life. I would later get his autograph at my last time at Houston Oiler training camp in 1995 on the Fleer 95 card. In 2010, when I was tracking down former Oilers I found Al’s address and sent out for his autograph.

Al Smith was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the 6th round of the 1986 draft from Utah. Smith would go on to lead the team in tackles his rookie season, as an inside linebacker for the 3-4 defense.  In 1990 he officially became the team’s starting middle linebacker and held down the starting job through 1994, garnering Pro Bowl honors twice and All-Pro once finally retiring in 1997.  Probably the Oiler’s best kept secret, Al Smith came up with big plays for the Oilers, including 2 goal line stops in a row to seal victory against the Jets in the playoffs. Smith after football would serve as a scout for the  Tennessee Titans and currently lives in Franklin, TN.

G  125      Tac  833        Sac  5.5         FF   8
Int  2        Yds 42      Avg 21.0      TD 0

Bartkowski, Steve

Cards: Topps 1978, Topps 1983
Acquired: In Person, CGA Youth Golf  Tournament 1993.

I got to the Golf Tournament early in the morning (before 8am) and was able to catch the early birds on the course before the crowds got there. The first three I got were the trio of quarterbacks, Steve Bartkowski, Billy Joe Tolliver and Browning Nagle. Bartkowski and the others were extremely nice and even let me ride around in a golf cart for a hole or two with them. They were more than happy to sign any cards I had, and Steve signed these two cards for me after I gave him and the others the drawings I did for them.

Steve was the #1 pick of the NFL draft of 1975 for the Atlanta Falcons, and garnered NFL Rookie of the Year Honors that year. Bartkowski lead the Falcons from 1975 to 1985 (and Rams in 1986).  He still owns many of the Falcons passing records to this day. Bartkowski’s career got off to an extremely rough start but blossomed as his career continued under center leading the team to division championships in 1980 and 1982. (You see in those days #1 choices and quarterbacks were given 5 or 6 years to blossom.) Steve was a two time Pro Bowler and threw 22 touchdowns to 5 picks in 1983. (He is also notable for being Leigh Steinberg’s first client and for being taken ahead of HoF runningback Walter Payton.)  After retirement Steve has continued to live and work in the Atlanta area, working for contractual commercial building firms, in sports broadcasting and television as a color analyst, sits on the board of directors for the Atlanta Falcons and is an avid golfer with a scratch handicap.

G 129    Att  1932    Comp 3456      Pct 55.9      Yds  24124
Td  156       Int  144       Rat  75.4

McAllister, Bobby

Card: Pro Set WLAF 1991
Acquired: In Person, 1992.  San Antonio Riders v Orlando Thunder.

Bobby McAllister is considered a hero at Michigan State from their glory days of the 1980’s, leading the team from 1987-1989. It was a team stocked with talent in Lorenzo White, Andre Rison, Willie Bouyer and the ‘Gang Green’ defense.    Bobby was not drafted after his senior season, and ended up on the Roughriders roster in 1989, playing briefly for the Argonauts later that year, finally landing on the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks roster in 1991. A scrambler by nature, he was extremely effective on the bootleg. Bobby would come off the bench that year and give the team a much needed boost playing admirably in two games, but the Skyhawks were folded after the 1991 season finishing a woeful 0-11.  McAllister would be picked up by ‘Team Dallas’, where he’d play on the league’s ‘taxi squad’. (Team Dallas functioned as a training ground for players so that they could quickly assimilate league and playbook terminology, keep players in peak shape, and quickly get out standardized game film of practices. They played no games that were tracked by the league.)   McAllister would eventually be signed by the San Antonio Riders late in the 1992 season, where he served as the number 3 quarterback behind Mike Johnson and Brad Goebel.
bobby and me

After the game against the Thunder, I caught Bobby coming out of the locker room and asked for his autograph. He was very excited because he had never seen his card before. He studied it intensely and autographed it with a big smile and offered to take a photo with me. We talked for a few minutes, and I told him if I ever got another card I’d give it to him. Unfortunately the league would fold before I could, as the Riders only played one more home game that season. After football Bobby has become a folk hero to Michigan State fans for his Rose Bowl heroics, and ardently supports the team to this day appearing in 2008 at the 20 year reunion to celebrate that fabled game. -By the way Bobby, I have that extra card for you now.

 

Games n/a      Att 195       Comp 91      Pct 46.7     Yds 1152        Td 7          Int 11           Rat 54

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