McNeil, Gerald “Icecube”

Cards: Score Supplemental 1990
Acquired: In Person, Houston Oilers Training Camp 1990
See Also: Gerald McNeil (2)

After setting a variety of receiving records at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Gerald McNeil went undrafted out of college because he checked in at a tiny 5″7′, 145. Undaunted Gerald was picked up by the NFL’s fledgling competition, the United States Football League, where he played for the Houston Gamblers in 1984-1985 as one of offensive coordinator Mouse Davis‘ Mouseketeers. In the run and shoot offense (with Jim Kelly as his quarterback) Gerald snagged 58 receptions for 1017 yards, a 17.6 average and 6 touchdowns. He’d be named to the USFL’s All Star Team as a punt returner by the Sporting News.

After the USFL disbanded, McNeil was drafted in the NFL’s supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns. Electrifying fans with his speed, McNeil was nicknamed ‘Ice Cube’ due to his tiny stature and incredible elusiveness. In 1986, during his first season with the Browns, McNeil returned both a punt (84 yards) and a kickoff  (100 yards) for a touchdown. Gerald was primarily used as a return specialist during his career and earned a Pro Bowl nomination for his electrifying play in 1987.  After finishing first in punt returns with 49 in 1989, Gerald was signed via Free Agency by the Houston Oilers in 1990. They hoped that he would duplicate his performance in the USFL and spell one of the Fab Four when they needed a sub, plus Bud Adams always enjoyed taking swipes and divisional competition. Gerald continued to be the primary punt and kick returner and get some spot playing time in his final season, retiring as a Houston Oiler after the 1990 season.

I got Gerald’s autograph at training camp that season while he was on the Oilers.  Yes he was small- and a really nice guy.  He had not seen his Score 1990 Supplemental card before and asked me if I had an extra. (It was the first time a player had put me on the spot like that.) Flabbergasted I told him I’d send him one. Back in those days though without the internet, it was hard to track down singles. I was able to get the card, but he retired before I was able to get it to him.

Games 76     Ret   91      Yds  1852        Avg 20.4        Lg 100T       Td  1      |      Pr  191       Yds  1717        Avg   9.0       Td 1        Lg  84T

Jones, Eric

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

After being touted by the Vanderbilt football program in 1988 as a Heisman Trophy candidate, Eric Jones was signed in 1989 the British Columbia Lions of the CFL.  June Jones and the Detroit Lions soon came a calling after a season ending injury to quarterback Rodney Peete where he was on the roster for the remainder of the season.

By 1991, Eric was picked up by the Birmingham Fire of the WLAF where he worked his way into the starting lineup after inconsistent play and injury took its tool on starting quarterback Brent Pease. Jones would also wear the helmet cam during the 1991 post season when the team faced the Dragons in the playoffs. In 1992 Eric was backup to Mike Norseth and played sparingly that season before the league disbanded. I’d get his autograph after the night game ended between the Riders and Fire. He was really gracious, and excited to sign my card.

Eric after football has worked his way into the medical field and is now involved with the Boston Scientific Corporation where he sells defibrillators and pacemakers. He resides in Macon, Ga with his wife and two children.

Games N/a   Att 87  Comp 41  Pct 47.1  Yds 495
Td 1   Int 9  Rat 29.3

Taylor, Lawrence

Cards: Action Packed Rookies 1992, SkyBox 1992
Acquired: TTM 2010, c/o home
Sent: 4/27   Received: 6/1   (34 days)

Lawrence Taylor is without a doubt the greatest football player to come from North Carolina and one of the most dominant linebackers of all time redefining the position during the 1980s and 1990s. He was drafted as the second overall pick of the 1981 draft (after George Rogers was taken by the New Orleans Saints) by the New York Giants after an All American career with the University of North Carolina. He’d would go on to win Defensive Rookie of the Year honors that year en route to his first multi-sack season. Lawrence was a character on and off the field, and this has led to a great deal of controversy with multiple run ins with the law. Regardless, Taylor has left a sizable footprint on the NFL landscape. He was named a 10 time Pro Bowler, and an 8 time all pro notching 7 straight 10+ sack seasons including a high 20.5 in 1986 and in 1991 he crossed the 1000 tackle mark. Taylor has hoisted awards for 1982 Defensive Player of the Year, 1986 NFL MVP and Defensive player of the year award, and multiple yearly awards from 1981-1990. He played for the Giants during their victories in Super Bowl XXI and XXV as part of the “Big Blue Wrecking Crew”. At retirement he was second on the NFL all time sack list and was named to the league’s 75th anniversary team.

Since retirement, Lawrence has continued to struggle with his inner demons, writing two books about his life and drugs, pursued a variety of interests including, acting, commercials for Weight Watchers, and most passionately golf. Nicknamed ‘LT’ he also worked as a commentator on games and also appeared as a wrestler in the WWE.  Despite his hard partying lifestyle Taylor was named to the NFL Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 1999. Recently he appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” and has invested in a variety of different capital ventures.

I met LT in 1993 at the CGA Youth Golf Tournament. He was taking his golf game very seriously, and broodingly instructed myself and the other fans to: “WAIT FOR ME AT THE CLUBHOUSE AND I WILL SIGN ALL YOUR AUTOGRAPHS.” Scared out of my gourd, I complied, but never got it since he was only on hole 3 at the time. It was one of the few autographs I kicked myself for never getting. I sent for his autograph in 2010, ironically the day before his most recent run in with the law, through the NFL HoF. I was surprised that he gave me his autograph in a bit under a month.  Since this post he plead guilty to the charges and has received probation.

Games 184    Sac 142     Tac  n/a     FF 11
Int 9     Yds 134      Td 2

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