Tag Archives: albany firebirds

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

McNair, Fred ‘Air’

Card: Wild Card WLAF 1992
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Alcorn State
Sent: 12/19       Received: 2/5    (42 days)

Fred McNair finished his career at Alcorn State as the 5th leading passer in NCAA -1A football after completing 119 of 214 passes for 1,898 yards and 14 TDs. After not being drafted in 1990, Fred was signed by the Dallas Cowboys to compete in camp against Babe Laufenberg– where I’m sure Fred passed me walking down autograph alley at St. Edwards in Austin.  After being cut, McNair played for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL where he was a member of the 79th Grey Cup Championship team.

Fred made the move to the WLAF in 1992, signing with the London Monarchs.   Although McNair was incumbent starting QB Stan Gelbaugh‘s backup, Fred did see significant playing time for the Monarchs. He’d throw for 668 yards and 3 TDs during his brief stint in the league. After the season, McNair returned stateside and began a solid career in the Arena leagues playing for the Albany Firebirds (1993-1995), Florida Bobcats (1996-2000), Carolina Cobras (2000-2001), and the Buffalo Destroyers (2002).  He also helped tutor his younger brother Steve for the rigors of the pro level.

Football hasn’t really stopped being a part of Fred McNair’s life. He spent some time at Millsaps University honing his skills as a coach, then jumped in at the OC level working with Mount Olive, (MS) helping the Pirates earn two State titles. After that he was head coach at Collins High School (MS), returning to Alcorn State in 2012 to serve as offensive coordinator.  In 2016 Fred became head coach of his Alma Mater, where he led Alcorn State to a 1st place finish at 5-4.

I had been meaning to get Fred on his Wild Card for some time, but I wasn’t sure if he signed TTM. I finally gave him a shot and was pleasantly surprised to get him in about 40 days.

WLAF
ATT 105   CPD 55   YDS 668   PCT 52.4    TD 3   INT 4   RAT 65.9

ARENA
ATT 2626  CPD 1504   YDS 19352   TD 340  INT 71  RAT 101.6