Smith, Steve “Rhino”

Card: Skybox 1992
Acquired: In Person 1993, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp

As a big fan of the sport, I literally carry every card of every player I can find to camp. On occasion I’m asked, “Why do you have that guy’s card?” I was asked that exact question before I got Steve’s autograph back in 1993 at Cowboys training camp. There’s a few reasons why I do that, but the most prevalent is I love the sport, and by getting a player’s autograph I am honoring my memory of the sport with them. In a way players I get the autographs of are my signed draft choices. Some are future prospects, or have a special place already in my mind, or some like Steve Smith, have a purpose or a need to educate us after their playing days are over.

Initially at Penn State, Smith was a runningback but because of his tenacious blocking and depth at the position, he was converted to fullback where he played the remainder of his career in football and was the team captain of their National Champion Team in 1986. (Not expecting to be drafted, Steve was in the shower when the Raiders came a calling in the 3rd round of the 1987 draft with fullbacks being a dime a dozen.) Despite his initial impressions Steve would see a significant role in the offense as not only a blocker but a short yardage back and receiver. He garnered the nickname ‘Rhino’ from his teammates, and scored 3 touchdowns in 1988. In 1989 he’d meet a Raider cheerleader, that Steve would eventually marry. After playing with the Raiders for 7 seasons, Steve signed with the Seattle Seahawks, where he finished his career in 1995.

After football, Steve has been struck with what he hoped initially was Lyme disease (when he started suffering symptoms in 2002,) but over the years has been unfortunately ALS, or Lou Geherig’s Disease.  Steve has fought nobly and courageously with his wife steadfast by his side. (Lou Geherig himself lasted only two years after the initial diagnosis, but Steve has fought it now for over 8 years.) Many of his friends and former teammates have come to his aid such as DJ Dozier, Howie Long and Shane Conlan; However, his monthly bills have been rumored to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000. Steve now speaks through a state of the art computer that types based on eye movement and is unable to receive food orally or breathe without a ventilator. Players have begun to work together to raise fund for Steve’s assistance. To help please go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jcdvq9R3rRk&feature=related

Steve Smith was once quoted as stating that “God has a purpose that has brought me to this point,” and perhaps it is to educate us about the increasing proof that ALS could be linked to concussions, as Steve was a recent focus of an episode of  “Real Sports” on HBO documenting his life and daily struggle.  The NFL recently has taken a much more aggressive approach towards concussions after 14 NFL players were diagnosed with the disease including another NFL fullback Kevin Turner. The league has ‘considered’ financial assistance to those players afflicted with the ALS but has yet to enact it.

Games 128   Att 429     Yds 1627    Avg 3.8     Td 9    Lg  21   |
Rec 131   Yds 1250    Avg 9.5    Td 13    Lg 45

Gelbaugh, Stan

Cards: ProSet 1991, ProSet WLAF 1991 LL, Proset WLAF 1991, Ultimate WLAF 1991 ll, Ultimate WLAF 1991, Ultimate WLAF 1991 Team Card, Wild Card WLAF 1992.
Acquired: TTM 2010, C/o work
Sent: 7/30   Received: 9/3  (34 days)
Stan Gelbaugh is one of a long line of noted quarterbacks that came out of the University of Maryland. A sidearm quarterback drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 6th round of the 1986 draft, Gelbaugh ended up punting for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL that season. Later he signed with the Buffalo Bills where he was backup for 4 seasons. Finally after a short off season with the Bengals in 1990, he found himself out of football and giving up the sport for good.  The ‘gods of football’ had different plans for Stan Gelbaugh though when former teammate Jim Haslett convinced Stan to take another shot when the WLAF opened its doors for business.
Drafted by the London Monarchs in their supplemental draft in 1990, Stan would get his second chance. Mentored by coach Larry Kennan, Stan started the season as the backup quarterback, but by the end of the first game he laid his claim to the starting job. He never relinquished it, grabbing MVP honors from the league and leading the Monarchs  to an 11-1 record and the first World Bowl championship.
After a rough political offseason between the WLAF and the NFL, Gelbaugh found himself on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, then quickly back in the NFL on the Phoenix Cardinals. Before the end of that 1991 season, he’d then be signed to the Seattle Seahawks, where former coach Larry Kennan was now offensive coordinator. As his roundabout tour continued, Gelbaugh exasperatedly returned to the Monarchs for the 1992 WLAF season, where the team collapsed under a new coach and a 2-7-1 record. (Gelbaugh  still turned in almost 2000 yards passing and 11 touchdown passes.) After the 1992 WLAF season, Gelbaugh returned to the Seahawks, where in one MNF contest, he ignited the Seahawks to an improbable comeback victory over their rival Denver Broncos. Stan retired after the 1996 season.
Gelbaugh since retirement has been involved in coaching and now works full time for a construction company in Washington DC and loves golfing. He finished his London career as the team’s leading quarterback in almost every category. Gelbaugh also finished as the WLAF’s career leader for attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. He’d also be the only quarterback in the league to throw for two 90 yard plus touchdown strikes.
I took a stab in the dark at Stan Gelbaugh, utilizing the power of the internet (Google) to find his address. His name isn’t the most common in the universe, and after about 20 minutes I was able to track him down. I broke a major rule when I mailed Stan: I sent more than 4 cards. In fact I sent seven, (every WLAF card he ever had). I told him he could sign what he wanted and return it and that would be fine. He kindly signed every one for me.  Included below are his WLAF career statistics.

Games 20   Att   582    Comp 336      Avg  57.7   Yds 4622     Td  28    Int 24     Lg 98T     Rat  82.1

McMichael, Steve “Mongo”

Cards: Action Packed 1990, Skybox 1992, Gameday 1991.
Acquired: In Person, CGA Youth Golf Tournament 1993.
See Also: Steve McMichael (2)

Steve McMichael before graduating from the University of Texas set the college’s career records for most tackles (369) and sacks (30)  and was named Hula Bowl MVP in 1979. McMichael was originally drafted by the New England Patriots in 1980 and had a quiet rookie season playing for them that year only getting 5 tackles. By 1981 he was already on the street but quickly picked up by the Chicago Bears, where he’d become a mainstay at defensive tackle (and on occasion NT) in the NFC Central for the next 13 seasons (13 for Chicago and 1 for Green Bay). He’d provide solid work in the trenches as a technically sound run stopper and pass rusher. A two time ProBowl selection in 1987 and 1988, Steve would also be a two time AllPro in 1985 and 1987. He’d also notch over 10 sacks 3 times in his career along the way and played in 191 games for the Chicago Bears. (His 191 games started is a club record for consecutive starts). He’d also finish his career with 3 career safeties and was a key contributor to the Bears solid efforts to win SuperBowl XX, ironically against his ex team the Patriots. McMichael would play one more season across the lake in Green Bay before retiring in 1994.

Steve after football would pursue a career in Pro Wrestling, adopting the name “Mongo” and coming in under the WCW banner. His wife would also get into the act and was a part of wrestling’s early 1990’s attempt to sell sex. Mongo would have a much publicized wrestling career and even took on other former pro football players such as Kevin Greene and Reggie White. His life would begin to match that of the soap opera that was wrestling when his wife (Debra) left him for another wrestler in 1999. He’d leave the sport until 2008 where he refereed a match for TNA wrestling. Since those years Mongo, has done pre-game commentary for Bears games and is coach for the Chicago Slaughter of the Continental Football League. He has also since remarried and was inducted into the College Football HoF in 2010.

I got Steve’s autograph when he was riding around with Earnest Byner during the CGA Youth Golf Tournament in 1993. My strange connection to Mongo is that while I was working at a used video game store, his ex-wife’s best friend was my boss. I’d overhear from time to time my boss talking about taking morning jogs with Debra, and how her new husband sometimes was abusive towards her. It’s sad how that ended up but nonetheless things have worked out for McMichael, the hope is things have worked out for Debra too.

Games  213   Tac  838        Sac 95         FF 13
Int 2         Yds 5            Td 0

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