Thomas, Broderick ‘The Sandman’

Card: Action Packed Rookies 1990
Acquired: In Person, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp 1996

Playing outside linebacker for the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the late 80’s, Broderick Thomas garnered the nickname of “The Sandman” for his lights out sacking ability and received 2 time All America Honors. The Buccaneers took a shot at him, drafting him #5 in the monster 1989 draft. Based on his ability, statistics and attitude, this to me I thought was a sure fire pick, and the team quickly branded him as the ‘future’ in the NFL at linebacker. The bar was set up incredibly high and Broderick would have a hard time living up to those expectations starting no games his rookie season. He’d see continued improvement, with 7.5 sacks at LOLB in 1990 and a career high 11 sacks in 1991 at ROLB where he also contributed 174 tackles that season. (Playing in Tampa however he’d not see the ProBowl.) Thomas would also pull down 2 picks and a touchdown and 3 fumbles in 1992, but with his sack numbers on the downward slide, he’d see free agency after 1993 where he only started 8 games.

In 5 years with the Buccaneers, Thomas would finish with 26.5 sacks- which is probably about half of what was expected of him by the franchise. He’d continue the NFC Central tour, playing for both the Lions and Vikings respectively a season a piece and finish his career playing for the Dallas Cowboys in 1996 and 1997.  I’d get his autograph while he was with the Cowboys at training camp in 1996 where he alternated at linebacker and defensive end. In fairness to Thomas, his statistics while not amazing, were respectable enough to allow him to become a respectable linebacker. He’d retire in 1998, due to a freak injury when he ripped his ACL during training camp.

Tragically sacrificing himself for the sport, Thomas has suffered from a variety of arthritic related conditions, panic attacks, and depression- all from football- but has somehow managed to continue on. Nowadays, Broderick runs Broderick Sports Entertainment, fundraises for childhood diabetes and passionately follows everything Cornhusker related as an active alumni. Thomas is a prime example of why we must not forget our former gladiators and that life after football is not just a send off to retirement and riches without worry or pain.

G/Gs  144/96    Tac 643   Sac 47.5    Fum 15
Int  2    Yds 81     Td  1     Lg  56T

Hunter, Arthur

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

Signed as a free agent by the Seattle Seahawks in 1990, Arthur Hunter didn’t make the final roster. Undeterred from playing football, he would be drafted by the Birmingham Fire of the WLAF in the 10th round of the league’s initial positional draft. Art ended up leading the secondary with his aggressive play, pulling down 6 interceptions and a touchdown. The team finished second in the league in interceptions. Despite even chocking in 61 tackles and two fumbles, he was not selected to the league’s All World Team.

In 1992, he’d add another 2 picks and a touchdown to bring his career total to 8 before the league would suspend operations and reorganize following the season. In both seasons, Hunter was an unheralded member of the Birmingham Fire’s staunch defense that formed the backbone of the playoff bound teams. When I found Arthur, he and the other defensive backs were leaving through the stands after the game. They all patiently stopped and signed my cards and laughed at their photos on the back.

Since then Hunter played some time in the Arena Football, but the information and his current whereabouts range from very sketchy to unknown.

G/Gs 20/20     Tac N/a     Sac N/a     Fum N/a
Int 8    Yds 115    Avg 14.4     Td 2    Lg 37T

Jeter, Tommy

Card: Star Pics 1992
Acquired: In Person 1994, Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp

Tommy Jeter played for the Texas Longhorns during the waning days of the Southwestern Conference, (which consisted at that point of a bunch of teams from Texas after Arkansas left). He’d be drafted in the 3rd round by the Philadelphia Eagles, where I’d get his autograph in West Chester in 1995.  Although he was well sized at 6-5, 285, Jeter would rarely get playing time under Rich Kotite and Ray Rhodes, and injuries took its toll on the young defensive lineman as he spent the greater part of his final season with the Eagles on IR before being released. Jeter would then sign with the Arizona Cardinals and be cut in training camp and then end up with the Panthers before retiring in 1996.

I think I got like 14 or 15 autographs on my trip to West Chester that year. My parents felt bad because I wanted to go to the Pro Football HoF but we were unable to go even though we were in the general area.  I think the biggest haul I got from this group was Herschel Walker, but Randall Cunningham completely denied me, by dropping my card on the ground outside the fence and insisting I already got one from him, – even though I hadn’t.  Training camp there was set up much the same way as Cowboys training camp, with a long metal fence that players walked by, but a lot less fans. It was interesting too because the player’s wives came out with them too, almost like they were trying to show them off to the crowd. Tommy was a really nice guy. He saw that I was wearing my high school hat, and asked me, “What I was doing here and how was Austin?”

G/GS  32/0    Tac  15    Sac   1    FF  0     Int 0   Yds 0   Avg -.-  Td 0

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