Cards: Action Packed 1990, Action Packed 1991, GameDay 1992 Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home Sent: 1/2/19 Received: 4/9/19 (97 days) See Also: Jim Everett
With a smooth autograph and many cards, I really wanted to come back again and ride the Jim Everett train again TTM. With the Action Packed and the GameDay cards down I liked, it’s still tough sledding the rest of the way if I ever hit him up again in say- 10 more years. I really liked these Action Packed entries. They really showcase the amazing sports photography that was available throughout those years. The lighting is just right to feel that Californian sun in Anaheim stadium. The Gameday is also pretty nice, but I am almost too curious as to what is going through that San Fransisco defender’s mind as Everett launches that pass. Jim has one of the better autographs in the game. Strong, connected, loopy, dynamic- It’s about everything you’d want out of one.
Since the last time I wrote Jim he’s become one of the celebratory NFL figures of the LA Rams old guard (- along with Eric Dickerson) welcoming the team back to the city after its long hiatus in St. Louis. Despite his numerous injuries that he suffered from his playing days- Jim has a certain excitement and vigor to him as he takes in the new landscape of Los Angeles Rams football. He’s done some pregame color analysis for the Rams during the preseason to get his appetite wet as well.
Merril Hoge. Few players angered me more than Merril Hoge during the Red Gun/ Run ‘N Shoot era of the Houston Oilers. I considered him an ‘arch’ and he loved saying nasty things about the upstart Oilers, who by 1987 had started becoming bullies in the AFC Central under head coach Jerry Glanville. The Steelers had finally gone into a deep depression, and the Oilers were eager to take the stick to their rivals. Nobody expected much of the Steelers in 1989 as they had just come off of a 5-11 record from the previous year. Despite this they rallied down the stretch and put together a 9-7 record. The Oilers had thumped the Steelers twice during the regular season, but they’d be denied in the playoffs losing 26-23, causing Jerry to lose his job. I want to even say that Hoge said something to the media nasty about the Oilers, and it just stuck with me all those years.
I remember opening up my first packs of cards, and in a lot of cases, there was a Merril Hoge card to twist the knife just a little more. Even when I played Tecmo Super Bowl, I was reticent to use Merril because of the fact that he epitomized that Steelers working man mantra and the upset that made me so sore. Then after his playing days concluded, he became a commentator, and the Oilers left Houston even- I still got a furrowed brow when he’d come on ESPN.
Dependable fullback Merril Hoge played for the Idaho State Bengals (a fact often repeated by national commentators almost every time he touched the ball) from 1983 to 1986. He finished his 4 years there with almost 5500 all-purpose yards, but more importantly the Big Sky Conference despite its trappings, prepared him for the rigors of pro level offenses.
After being selected in the 10th round of the 1987 draft, Merril played 7 seasons for the Steelers at fullback. A versatile player out of the backfield, Merril was an excellent receiver and blocker who was rarely missed an assignment. He had a career high 772 yards rushing in 1990, and a career high 487 yards receiving in 1988.
In 1994, Merril signed with the Chicago Bears, but suffered a terrible neck injury ending his career. Merril is also a cancer survivor beating non-hodskin’s lymphoma.
Merril had a great selection of cards, so it was tough to even settle on just these 4. His Score 1990 is one of my favorite, and was from a rain soaked affair versus the Miami Dolphins that year. (Sammie Smith has a corresponding card from that game, and Mike Mularkey has been immortalized in a sports photo from that game that ProSet did.) His Action Packed 1991 card does everything right in this one, and the determination on Merril’s face really makes you feel as though you are a part of the action.
Cards: Action Packed 1991, Topps Finest Chrome Field Generals 1995 Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Charity Sent: 5/21/18 Received: 1/5/19 (229 days) Failure: TTM 2012, C/o The Hoss Foundation
Jeff Hostetler played football collegiality in 1979 and 1980 for the Penn State Nittany Lions. There he posted 319 yards on 24 of 59 passing throwing 1 TD to 2 interceptions but was beat out by future first round pick Todd Blackledge to the starting quarterback job. He’d transfer to West Viginia in 1982 and work his way into Mountaineer lore. He’d throw for 1798 yards and 10 TDs in 1982, and then 2247 yards and 14 TDs in 1983. Although not a gifted scrambler Jeff was solid out of play action and had a solid arm to boot. He’d be selected by the New York Giants in the 3rd round of the 84 draft.
Thanks in part to Phil Simms durability, Jeff pretty much never saw the field for the first 5 seasons of his career (outside of special teams). – Not to mention the fact that he was 3rd string. He saw his first action in 1988, with some mop up duty and then later starting in a win over the Saints. While his numbers on the season weren’t amazing , Hoss showed enough promise that he took over the primary backup role for Phil in 1989. He saw some starting duty again that season, as the Giants made the playoffs, but were bounced by the LA Rams.
The Giants came back the next season (1990) and were firing on all cylinders towards the playoffs, but in the 14th contest of the season, Phil went down with a season ending foot injury. Hoss came in, and although they lost the game, he guided them to a win in their next two contests to finish 13-3 on the year and into the playoffs. The Giants used a ball control offense to pummel the Bears 31-3, squeak by the 49ers dynasty 15-13, and into Super Bowl XXV.
Considered by myself to be one of the finest Super Bowls ever, the Giants ground out a 20-19 win over the Buffalo Bills. Jeff himself completed 20 of 32 passes for 222 yards and a TD in New York’s win.
After the win head coach Bill Parcells retired suddenly. His replacement Ray Handley announced a quarterback competition between Hostetler and Simms before the 1991 season. Surprising many, Hoss won the competition, but suffered a season ending injury during the 12th game of the year. The following season- again- Handley announced a quarterback competition. This time Simms won but got injured only after 4 starts. Hostetler came in and played well but also suffered an injury as well. Hoss’ time was up in New York after the season. He’ sign with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1993.
As the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Raiders, Hostetler led the Raiders to 10 wins, and threw for a then career highs in almost all categories (236/419, 3242 yards and 14 TDs). The following year in 1994, he’d again set career highs with attempts (455), completions (263), yards (3334), and TDs (20)- earning his first and only Pro Bowl appearance. Jeff transitioned with the Raiders to Oakland in 1995, and although he did throw for 23 TDs in 1996, injuries kept adding extra wear to the grizzled veteran. He signed with the Redskins in 1997, and returned to the role of clutch backup quarterback, retiring after the 1998 season.
Jeff has his own charity- The Hoss Foundation, and after failing on him during my first attempt in 2012, even though I sent a donation, I sort of was so stung by it time just flew by until I got back around to him again in 2018.
His heroics in Super Bowl XXV still stick out in my mind, and this beautiful Action Packed 1991 card frames it so well. Jeff’s autograph isn’t bad either with the way the ‘J’ crosses the ‘H’ it definitely feels like a real autograph. In 2019, Jeff was named to the preliminary anniversary list of nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Anniversary.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.