Tag Archives: American Football League

Morris, Mercury

Cards: Topps 1977, SP Signature Edition 2005
Acquired: TTM 2010, c/o Home.
Sent:  4/28     Received:  7/9   (72 days)

Before I begin, I’d like to express my outrage towards the NFL and solidarity with former players in their attempts at trying to get medical assistance and their ‘fair share’ of the retirement pie. Case in point:

Mercury Morris was another AFLer that I sent away for after watching “Full Color Football” on the NFL Network.  Morris was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 3rd round of the 1969 draft, playing in the final year of the AFL before the merger.   Initially Morris found himself playing as a backup running back and special teams returner to Jim Kiick with gradually increasing playing time. (He started 39 games over his career.) In 1973, Mercury combined with Larry Csonka to form the first 1,000 yard duo, playing with two broken vertebra for a good portion of the season. (Mercury was not informed of the break when it happened, rather he was told that the injury was a ‘sprain’ after the game by team doctors.) Morris would play through 1976, where he was traded to the Chargers and then retired shortly thereafter due to the lingering neck injury from 1973. Eugene “Mercury” Morris was aptly named, based on his mercurial quickness, and later proven by the fact that he stands 1st amongst halfbacks on average yards per carry at 5.1 (with at least 750 attempts) and his kick return average of 26.5 stands in the NFL top ten.  He is also a member of the NFL’s only completely perfect team, (the 17-0 1972 Dolphins) and was a 3 time ProBowl selection from 1971-1973.

Since retirement Morris has been involved in television, public speaking, commercials, and wrote a book about his life entitled “Against the Grain” (1988). An outspoken advocate for improving player benefits, Mercury has continued to battle with the NFL to acknowledge and compensate him and his former gladiator brethren for their increasing medical expenses caused by their playing days.  (Mercury has suffered from lingering and debilitating headaches from his fused spine and deadened nerves.) Morris has pressed on with multiple legal actions against the league (for the money he is entitled to) and the Groom Law Group, which supervises the NFL pension plan. He has chronicled his latest attempts at getting answers through former defensive lineman Dave Pear’s blog at: www.davepear.com/blog .

G  99       Att  804           Yds   4133           Avg  5.1           TD 31          LG 70
KR  111          Yds  2947          Avg  26.5             TD  3            LG 105

Blanda, George (1927-2010)

Card: Topps 1972
Acquired: TTM 2010, c/o home
Sent: 3/26  Received: 4/13  (18 days)

This card was the oldest card in my collection (for a time) ironically because my friend Josh brought over his card collection and accidentally spilled them all over the floor. He let me have this card, because he thought it was in such bad condition that it was trash.  Being the big Oiler fan I am, I knew about George’s history with the team, but it never seemed to cross my mind to locate him for an autograph and for many years the card languished in my collection.  I started a TTM drive to get autographs of many of the classic Oilers after watching the NFL Network presentation of “Full Color Football”. (While the broadcast gives the AFL some credit, it still failed to give the Oilers teams credit of the early 60s, Charlie Hennigan any exposure, and does not acknowledge the contributions of many of our now injured and fallen gladiators in dire need of medical attention and pension assistance.) George was at the top of the list.

George Blanda is an amazing story of longevity in sports history. In a sport like football, with players average playing time of less than 5 years, Blanda would play in 4 different decades, spanning 26 seasons, longer than any other player in football history. He began playing for the NFL in 1949 for the Bears, where he’d play for 10 seasons. Forced with an ultimatum to become a kicker full time and not a quarterback, he opted to retire; However fate would smile upon “The Grand Old Man” who was granted a reprieve when the upstart AFL started in 1960. Signed by the Houston Oilers, he led them to the first 3 championships, winning the first and second with an impressive aerial attack. After seven seasons, he’d move on to play with the Raiders, where he served as backup quarterback and kicker for the team for an additional nine seasons. Blanda at the time of his retirement held the record for most games played and most points scored. He was inducted into the Pro Football HOF in 1981.

George Blanda passed away quietly at the age of 84 on September 27th, 2010. He is survived by his wife and 11 children.

G 340   Att 4007   Comp 1911    Avg 47.6    Yds 26920
Td 236    Int 277
FG 335    Att 641   XPA 943    XPM 959    Pts 2002

Stenerud, Jan

Cards: Proset 1991, Topps 1970, Memorabilia.
Acquired: In person, CGA Youth Golf Tournament 1993. TTM, 1993.

Back in 1993 I went to the CGA Youth Golf Tournament in Austin, Tx with one mission in mind: get as many football player autographs as possible. I would not be disappointed. Jan Stenerud was one of the many players that I got on that 3 day bonanza that I made a drawing for. He signed the Topps 1970 and the Pro Set Hall of Fame card I got. (He is probably one of the tannest white people I have ever met.) Later much like Dick Anderson, I received a letter in the mail thanking me for my drawing and encouraging me to continue with art from Jan. He also sent me a personalized piece of memorabilia. It was quite a surprise and very nice of him.

Jan was born in Norway and came to the United States on a ski jumping scholarship for Montana State. When coaches saw his ability to kick the football, he was quickly put on the football team. In 1965 utilizing a soccer style kick, he put a 59 yarder through the uprights in what was a college football record at the time. Stenerud would go on to play for the Chiefs in the AFL as one of the first pure place kickers. His career spanned 3 decades (60s, 70s, and 80s) and 3 teams (Chiefs, Packers, and Vikings). A two time AFL All Star,  4 time Pro Bowler,  7 time All Pro, both in the NFL and Packers and Chiefs HOF, and on the NFL 75th All-Time Team, Stenerud was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1991 as the first ‘pure’ kicker. Jan still retains strong ties with his native country, and has been recently involved with a firm that designs arenas and sports stadiums.

G 263     FG 373     FGA 558   XP 580   XPA  601   Pts   1699