Tag Archives: albany firebirds

Sterling, Rob

Card: ProSet WLAF 1991
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Home
Sent: 12/7 Received: 12/21 (14 days)

A 5th round pick of the Orlando Thunder during the WLAFs inaugural positional draft in 1991, Rob Sterling played college ball at Maine. After graduating in 1988, he’d be selected by the Eagles, but spent the entire year on IR. Acquired via plan B by the Jets the following season, he didn’t make the squad, but returned to the Eagles where he saw time on the team’s developmental squad.

Still hungry to play football, Rob signed up with the fledgling Arena Football League, and played for both the Albany Firebirds and the Washington Commandos in 1990. In limited action, Rob had 5 receptions for 50 yards and a TD, and 8 total tackles- playing both ways.

A rangy playmaker with good speed, Rob finished 3rd on the Thunder in Tackles with 43 stops and 9 pass deflections- after sitting out the final game with a knee injury. Rob’s biggest highlight came when he took a lateraled interception 33 yards for a TD against the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks. He did not return to the league for the 1992 season.

I collaborate with fellow collector Mark (of Marks Signing Bonus) on a semi-regular basis through Sportscollectors.com. He and I send WLAF addresses back and forth of players we have gotten lucky on and while he claims that I am regularly on point, he comes up with some killer finds- including Rob Sterling. Rob originally hails from Jamaica, has got a pretty common name, and went to Maine (of all places), so I pretty much gave up on this one some time ago after doing a ton of research. Thankfully Mark passed this one along to me and Rob autographed this one in roughly 2 weeks.

G –WLAFTACSACFUMINTYDSAVGTDLG
9/10430.0103333.0133T
G- ARENATACSACFUMINTYDSAVGTDLG
80.0000-.-0-.-

Bennett, Ben

Card: ProSet 1991 WLAF Insert
Acquired: 2018, EBay
Failure: TTM 2014, C/o Home 

Ben Bennett was a prolific quarterback for the Duke Blue Devils finishing as one of the top passers in NCAA history, throwing for 9614 yards on 820 completions (1375 attempts) and 55 TDs from 1980 to 1983. 

Selected in the 6th round of the 1984 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons, but ended up playing in the USFL for the Jacksonville Bulls. Bennett then bounced around camps for the Falcons, Oilers, Cowboys, and Bears, eventually seeing a little action playing for the Bengals in ’87.  He’d join the Arena Football league playing for the Chicago Bruisers in 1988 and 1989, leading the team to the championship in the latter season. After playing for the Dallas Texans in 1990, he was selected by the Sacramento Surge of the WLAF during the first round of the positional draft. 

Ben was expected to be the starter for the Surge, but he’d be supplanted by former KC Chiefs 2nd round pick, Mike Elkins- who took all the snaps after the first game. Bennett returned to the Arena Football League later that year with the Orlando Predators.  Ben at this point became a star for the young league. He’d play for Orlando through 1995, before taking one season pitstops with both the San Jose SabreCats and the Portland Forest Dragons.  Ben is known in Arena lore for the ‘Miracle Minute’ in which he engineered a 16 point comeback in under 1 minute. Ben was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 2000. 

Outside of his impressive Arena Football resume, Ben has been involved as coach for the Milwaukee Mustangs (1998), Greensboro Prowlers (2000), Florida Bobcats (2001), Florida Firecats (2002-2004), Manchester Wolves (2005-2007), Austin Wranglers (2008), Orlando Fantasy LFL (2010), the New Orleans Voodoo (2011), and the Orlando Predators (2012). 

I had previously tried to get Ben way back in 2011, but had no luck. Since then, I’ve seen no successes or addresses for him that I could use, so I went ahead and just picked this autograph up off of EBay after verifying its integrity. 

NFLATTCPDYDSPCTTDINTRAT
0/1522533.3017.6
RUSHYDSAVGTDLG
2178.509
USFLATTCPDYDSPCTTDINTRAT
0/213711353.810142.5
ARENAATTCPDYDSPCTTDINTRAT
192810691416855.426781N/A
RUSHYDSAVGTDLG
11367.609
WLAFATTCPDYDSPCTTDINTRAT
1/02696034.60239.6

Pawlawski, Mike

Cards: Topps XFL 2001, Classic Blister 1992, Gameday 1992
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Home
Sent:  3/17     Received:  4/10  (24  days)


Mike Pawlawski has enjoyed nothing but one of the more curious professional football careers. It all started back in 1992 when the highly decorated signal caller from Cal was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 8th round. He spent one year with the team and the next two out of football.

Mike reignited his football career when he joined the Arena Football League. First with the SabreCats, and then later with the Miami Hooters in 1995. (- Yes named after the Hooters restaurant franchise.) He played one season with the team (66/133, 674 yards, and 6 TDs) in primarily relief duty. He also spent time in the CFL with their USA invasion as a member of the Shreveport Pirates. Mike jumped to the Albany Firebirds the following year- and really impressed (22/35, 296 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT) in limited play.  It’d be in 1997 that Pawlawski came into his own as a starter. He’d throw for 4,272 yards and 69 TDs on 509 attempts. For the next 3 seasons he’d be the unquestioned starter of the Firebirds and threw for at least 70 touchdowns in each year.

He heard the siren call of the XFL in 2001 and joined the fledgling league and be the starting quarterback for the San Fransisco Demons. In the lone season for the league Pawlawski finished second to only Tommy Maddox in passing, while leading the team to the Million Dollar Game. With the XFL hemorrhaging money and with bad TV ratings, the league shut down after the lone season.

Mike retired due to injuries and followed his passions for the outdoors, working on the show Gridiron Outdoors. He also does color commentating for Cal games for a variety of networks.

Mike was kind enough to sign these three cards in about a month’s time, however I wish he actually had a sharpie handy as his autograph gets lost on these canvases.

ARENA    ATT 2045   CPD 1351   YDS  16673
TD  303    INT 45   RAT 118.98
R 93    YDS 181    TD 19

XFL   ATT  297    CPD  186   YDS 1659    TD 12   INT  4