Tag Archives: Atlanta Falcons

DeBerg, Steve


Cards: Score 1989 Supplemental, Action Packed 1991, Score 1991 Leader
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o Home
Sent:  1/9   Received: 1/20    (11 days)

Steve DeBerg is a warrior of old. Over his career, Steve played from 1978-1993, and 1998. He played some 17 seasons in the NFL and almost pulled off one of the rarest of feats of appearing in 4 different decades of football.  DeBerg is considered one of the great masters of play action, which served him well during his revival in the late 80s and early 90s for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Originally a 10th round choice of the Dallas Cowboys in 1978 out of San Jose State (and thought to be Roger Staubach‘s heir), Steve was traded to the 49ers before the regular season began. He’d start 11 games his rookie year in the NFL, but his numbers were atrocious (8 TD, 22 INT), and his win/loss record reflected it (1-10).  In 1979, DeBerg was allowed to spread his wings and led the NFL in Attempts (578) and completions (347), but young rookie QB Joe Montana was chomping at the bit.  In 1981, Deberg was traded to the Broncos, and he’d play there for through 1983, (when Denver got a hold of… John Elway).

In 1984, Steve was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’d throw for a career high 3554 yards that season and throw 19 TDs to 18 picks. In 1986 he’d back up future NFL HoF QB Steve Young, and then in 1987, back up Heisman Trophy Winner Vinny Testaverde.  After his 4 year stint with the Bucs concluded, DeBerg signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1988.

It’d be in 1989 that DeBerg was introduced to ‘Marty Ball’, and after fighting off Ron Jaworski, Steve Pelluer, and rookie Mike Elkins, posted a 6-4 record and almost led the Chiefs to the playoffs. It was a huge turnaround for the franchise- one that had been a doormat of the AFC West for most of the 80s. DeBerg continued his magical reinvention in 1990.  During that era of NFL football, only throwing 4 interceptions in 444 pass attempts was almost unheard of- but DeBerg did just that, leading the NFL with only .9 % of all his passes intercepted that season. He also had the highest adjusted average yards per completion at 7.58, leading the Chiefs to the playoffs. He played one more season with the Chiefs before being replaced in 1992 by Joe Montana (again).

Steve signed with the Bucs again in 1993. He’d be the backup QB for them for a few games over 2 seasons. Cut during 1994, DeBerg found his way onto the roster of the Dolphins and backed up Scott Mitchell after Dan Marino was injured.

DeBerg was long thought retired after that and was hired by Dan Reeves to be a QB coach with the Giants in 1995. Later when Reeves moved to Atlanta, he hired DeBerg as his QB Coach in 1996, however in 1998 they’d decided it’d be best if DeBerg backed up starter Chris Chandler. Steve finally reached the Superbowl with the Falcons- a game that they lost to the Broncos and… John Elway.

Truly, in the football universe for a while there, everything was six degrees of Steve DeBerg, with him being connected to so many great quarterbacks. A true competitor, Steve always left it out on the field. I remember during one season, he played a few weeks with a cast on his non-throwing hand during his time with the Chiefs.

Steve’s a signer who does so in random spurts, so it was somewhat difficult to peg down when I should send out to him. Along the way, Steve’s modern era cards (let’s say post 1988) were pretty nice, and it was hard for me to trim it down to under 3 of them. Sadly the Score 1991 Leader card that I liked the most got smudged- Usually a by-product of rushing signatures before they dry back into a sleeve or envelope. Still one can’t complain. I liked all 3 of these a lot. They really stood out among the sets to choose from. The simplicity of the Action Packed 91 almost couldn’t be touched, and the Score 1989 card is vibrant.

G/GS  206/140    ATT  5024    CPD 2874    YDS 34241    PCT 57.2
TD 196      INT 204        RAT  74.2

RUSH 204     YDS 200     AVG 1.0       TD 7       LG 15

Kirksey, William


Cards: Wild Card WLAF 1992, Ultimate WLAF 1992
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o Home
Sent:  2/25      Received:  3/4  (7 days)

William Kirksey played collegiality for Southern Mississippi where he first gained recognition during the 1988 Independence Bowl.  He led the team with 12 total tackles as the Golden Eagles sliced the UTEP Miners 38-18.  The following year he was a team captain of the defense and led them with 146 total tackles.  During that season he set the school single game mark for total tackles (21) and assisted tackles (19) against Louisiana-Lafayette.  At the conclusion of the year Kirksey was named Second Team All-South Independent.

He went unnoticed in the 1990 NFL draft, but was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Vikings, dressing for 9 contests.  Near the end of the year, he was signed to the Falcons practice squad.

William was selected in the 3rd round of the WLAF draft in 1992 by the London Monarchs. Despite the team’s woes in the standings, William had a solid campaign, recording a sack, and returning an interception 27 yards to paydirt. After the season, William signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, but was placed on IR before the season even began. In 1995, he played briefly in the CFLUSA initiative with the Birmingham Barracudas notching 2 tackles.  After playing for the Montreal Alouettes in 1996, William retired from playing and went into coaching.

He’s coached at the High School and JC level for many years, as a defensive coordinator,  positional coach, and recruiting coordinator. I had been looking for Kirksey for sometime and had some near misses. Finally I decided to pay to play with Spokeo, and with the data I had already on his football cards, I was able to track down a working address.

WLAF     TAC N/a       SAC 1.0      FUM 0
INT 1       YDS 24        AVG 24.0     TD 1       LG 24T

NFL   9/0     TAC N/A    SAC 0.0      FUM 0
INT 0            YDS 0          AVG -.-      TD 0         LG -.-

CFL         TAC 2          SAC 0.0       FUM 0
INT  0     YDS 0         AVG -.-         TD 0             LG -.-

Patterson, Melvin

Cards: Ultimate WLAF 1992, Wild Card WLAF 1992
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o Home
Sent:  5/11           Received:  5/22   (11 days)

Melvin Patterson was quite the find. Since his time in the WLAF he’s tread a very unique life.  After a lot of cross referencing his football card to a variety of other sources I found an old post on the web imploring users of the designer drug Kratom to contact Patterson at the DEA. After a few months of soul searching, I decided to reach out to Melvin. It had taken me sometime because I was intimidated to be calling the D-E-A. Furthermore, what would his reaction be? Finally, for me it breaks a long standing rule and tradition of TTM requests to never contact the player directly. Mail is direct enough, but by phone- that is a higher level of communication and it could be construed as something alarming. Nonetheless, I went ahead nervously and gave it a shot.

Initially it was a rough call. I could read easily that Patterson’s tone was skeptical, but after stumbling through formalities and explaining the purpose of my call, my link to him through the WLAF, and how it had positively impacted my life, he opened up to me and we had a long and interesting conversation about the league. It was really enlightening for me, as most of my discussions with former players usually is through snail mail, and I could get knee jerk, honest answers immediately about Melvin’s time playing for the league from him. I also was able to reassure him of my purpose by being able to discuss these things at length with him, especially the infamous ‘Hail Storm Game’ that occurred between Ohio and San Antonio.  He shared with me that the game held significant importance for him as both his mother (who frowned upon him playing football because she was afraid he’d get hurt) and his future wife were in attendance at the game.

Melvin also shared with me the background behind his 99 yard TD grab against the Knights- the longest in league history.  Apparently they had tried the same play on the previous down, and it hadn’t worked. While in the huddle, Melvin was chirping in QB Pat O’Hara‘s ear about how open he had been for most of the game.  They decided to attempt the same play again, but flip it. O’Hara went back to pass and Melvin found the seam between the corner and the safety and before he knew it, the ball was in his hands. He split the defensive backs and stepped on the gas to take the ball to pay dirt.  Patterson also reminded me of the SFA connection and that many players including Patrick Action Jackson and Todd Hammel had made their ways through the WLAF. He was very curious in how his teammates and college players had been doing.  Melvin said he’d even put in a good word for me if I could track down Todd.   Like many players, he agreed that the NFL gave up on the WLAF (and its other incarnations) too soon, as we rattled off the lineage of players that went on to greater glory or have become coaches in their own right, thanks in part to time honing their skills in the league. In addition he told me he had been assigned to the Austin field office for a few years during his tenure at the DEA, and this was quite a charge to me, just reinforcing what a small world it is.

In 1987, Melvin led SFA with 31 receptions for 472 yards and 2 TDs. Melvin signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a Free Agent in 1988 and the Atlanta Falcons in 1989.

He joined the WLAF in 1991 as a 5th round pick of the Birmingham Fire.  Based on archival information, it appears that Melvin was a member of the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks at the end of 1991, finishing with 4 catches for 126 yards and a 72 yard long.  Patterson was signed by the Eagles and allocated back to the WLAF for 1992. He was selected by the Ohio Glory in the supplemental player draft.

To say that the Glory suffered an identity crisis on offense is an understatement. Not only was there problems at quarterback, the coaches argued over the philosophical offensive strength of the team. Still, Melvin managed to haul in 21 receptions for 395 yards and 2 TDs as a long bomb threat.  I’m sure that his mom shuddered every time the defense forced a punt,  as Melvin was the team’s primary returner with 25 returns for 173 yards.

These are some great cards of Melvin.  The photography for the Ultimate set was uneven, but with this action shot of Melvin was pretty solid. Even though he doesn’t have the ball, the photo is at the right distance and the framing is just right to make this shot stand out from the ordinary. The second image from the Wild Card set is a nice one. You can feel the ball hitting Patterson in the bread basket. I wasn’t the biggest fan of their design however.  I thought the stamp logo and the bright numbers down the side really took away from the main composition of the card.

Melvin has pretty much been a career man in DEA since football and is nearing retirement.  He wrote me a really nice note with the autographs he sent back to me and said that he gets requests every once in a while from fans for autographs.  Of note, Melvin’s gaudy receiving average of 20.8 ranks 4th in league history.

WLAF    REC  25    YDS  521    AVG  20.8     TD  2      LG 99T
PR  25      YDS 173     AVG  6.9       TD 0