Card: Topps AAF 2019, Topps AAF 2019 Certified Acquired: IP 2019, San Antonio Commanders v Arizona Hotshots. EBay 2019.
Jhurell was very high on my list for the game to try and get. His card is quite exciting looking and he was one of the league leaders in rushing. It helped that I had the seats in the visitors endzone, but he proved to be no problem- as soon as he saw his card of course. Jhurell removed his custom mouthpiece, which had gold vampire teeth in it and came over excitedly. It clued me in that for most of the Hotshots this was the first time they’d seen their cards.
Jhurell Pressley was not drafted coming out of New Mexico in 2016. Over his 4 years with the Lobos, he compiled 2,725 career yards on 394 carries (6.9 ypc) while scoring 35 TDs, and catching 18 passes (202 yards). His best year at NM came in 2014 when he compiled a whopping 1083 yards on 114 carries. – That’s right- 9.4 yards per carry!
He’d sign with the Minnesota Vikings and then see time on and off the rosters and practice squads of the Packers, Falcons, Jaguars, and Giants.
Jhurell joined the Arizona Hotshots in 2019 and led the league in rushing finishing with 430 yards on 96 carries, 1 TD and a 36 yard long scamper. He also caught 11 passes for 86 yards and 2 TDs including a 30 yard scamper.
After the league folded Jhurell was selected in the 3rd round of the XFL 2020 Draft by the Washington Defenders.
Mike’s career continued after his release from the Cardinals. In 2018, he signed with the fledgling Alliance of American Football. (I recognized the name immediately when he was assigned to the Arizona Hotshots thanks in part to the league’s territorial allocation.) Later in the year- perhaps out of the fact that some teams were unfairly blessed with an abundance at quarterback, the AAF decided to hold a Pick or Protect draft, to balance out the rosters a bit.
Mike was taken at the top of Round 2 by the San Diego Fleet, where it was planned he’d grow under the tutelage of offensive mastermind Mike Martz, and behind overall #1 pick Josh Johnson. This didn’t happen because almost immediately after the draft, Josh signed with the NFL Washington Redskins. Moving ahead with Berco at starting quarterback allowed the Fleet to plan around him however and prepare him for the rigors of the AAF season.
I didn’t get Mike’s autograph before the first game in league history, even though they were practicing only a few feet from me. I didn’t realize how he’d be a poster boy for the league in the league’s brief highlight film.
“Hey, whatever this league needs to get people excited, if that’s what it takes, then I’ll take the bullet.”
-Mike Bercovici (on ‘the hit’)
The Commanders ended up beating the Fleet on opening night in San Antonio, punctuated by 6 sacks and 2 interceptions. One of those sacks, LB Shaan Washington came across the line and almost decapitated Mike Bercovici from his blindside. The crowd was dead silent fora brief second as we looked around, and then erupted into a gladiator-like rousing applause at the fact that there was no flag. I thought that perhaps he suffered a concussion, but at some point during that game, Berco was sat for Philip Nelson.
Mike regained the starting position a few games later after Nelson went down with an injury. He’d complete 22 or 43 passes (304 yards) with a TD, leading the Fleet to the game winning drive over the Stallions 27-25. In fact he’d throw for 300 yards in the next two games as well, against the Iron (311 yards) and the Hotshots (310 yards).
Despite Mike’s struggles, he was quite lovable as a quarterback. He finished with 5 TDs to 9 picks, on 51% completions with 1,311 yards. His numbers are actually all the more impressive because he only started 4 games. The league folded after Week 8, and Mike decided to hang up his cleats and go into coaching.
He currently works as a graduate assistant at Arizona State.
I really wanted Mike’s autograph on these cards of his, and after a bit of digging, missing on an address, and a little help from Mark’s Signing Bonus, I was able to track him down on these great cards of his. I liked Berco and I had high hopes that he’d make a great ambassador of the league as the AAF moved forward.
Card: Topps AAF 2019 Acquired: IP 2019, San Antonio Commanders v Arizona Hotshots
Wow. The Commanders got their butt kicked at home badly by the Hotshots. After the game, the Commanders went to the locker room while the Hotshots reveled in all their glory with fans on the visitors’ sideline. Bundy was talking to fans when I reached over and asked him to sign his card. At first he said I must have the wrong guy, but when he and his friends saw his card, he jumped up and down with excitement. Like most players, he was unaware that Topps had made a card of him. He signed it gleefully and then thanked me for the extra I gave him.
Marquis played for the New Mexico Lobos from 2012-2015. He put together 31 catches for 395 yards and 2 TDs over his time at the school. Bundy did not see much playing time as a receiver in the run first Lobos offense- so his draft stock really suffered. He’d go unselected in 2016.
Bundy was picked up by the Cardinals, and was on and off the roster through 2017. The Giants then took a year to look at Marquis but did not make the roster in 2018.
Marquis signed with the Hotshots in 2019, and saw his most productive outing against the Commanders in Week 5 catching 3 passes for 49 yards, and over the course of the season he also converted 2 2 point conversions. He’d see 4 starts (in 8 games) catching 13 passes for 178 yards (13.6 YPC), including a 22 yard long.
After the league folded, Marquis landed on the practice squad of the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.