Card: Topps AAF 2019 Acquired: 2019, Washington Defenders Open House
KeShun Freeman was a 4 year starter at defensive end for the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets. A captain for the team, he posted 159 total tackles, 8 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss, 4 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles.
Keshun joined the New Orleans Saints in training camp in 2018, but did not make the squad. He then played for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF where they let him continue to hone his craft more as a tweener. Freeman finished with 14 tackles and .5 sacks in 8 games before the league folded in April of 2019.
Keshun started for the XFL’s DC Defenders in 2020 seeing action at defensive end, outside linebacker and middle linebacker. An integral member on special teams, he finished with 17 tackles in 5 games for the Defenders solid defense.
I really liked Keshun’s card and it was high on my list to get autographed. I have made a few friends on Twitter, and after the collapse of the AAF, became fast friends with a fellow football historian. He had season tickets to the Defenders and offered to get autographs for me, which I excitedly jumped at. It goes to prove that kindness and charity are not done for yet.
Cards: Topps AAF 2019, Topps AAF 2019 Certified Acquired: 2019, EBay. 2019, TTM. IP 2020, Houston Roughnecks/ Tampa Bay Vipers Joint Practice Sent: 5/15 Received: 7/25 (71 days) Failure: TTM 2014 C/o The Kansas City Chiefs, TTM 2019, C/o The Atlanta Legends.
Aaron Murray played college ball at Georgia from 2009 to 2013 . A prolific passer, Murray threw for 13,166 yards and 121 TDs for the Bulldogs. Along the way he set numerous SEC passing records, and was the 2013 Capital One Bowl MVP. He parlayed his efforts into a 5th round selection by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014.
Aaron made the squad but didn’t see any significant playing time. He’d be cut in 2016 and then bounce around from the Cardinals practice squad to the Eagles practice squad, and then in 2017 briefly with the Rams.
After a brief hiatus, it was rumored that Aaron was planning to join the Alliance of American Football. He signed with the Atlanta Legends and then was subsequently protected by the team with the second overall pick of the 2018 Pick or Protect AAF Draft.
The Legends were a team in constant flux early in camp and into the season. Head Coach Brad Childress departed shortly into camp. Offensive Coordinator Mike Vick also was reassigned. The offensive playcaller- Rich Bartel- who took over as the OC departed after the 3rd game. Thankfully venerable Ken Zampese stepped in and filled the role through the dissolution of the league.
Murray was unseated as starter by Matt Simms going into the first contest against Orlando. He’d remain on the bench until the 4th contest of the season when the Legends played the Hotshots. With Simms ailing, and the Legends sitting at 0-3, Aaron came in and led Atlanta to a 14-11 victory. He’d go 20 of 33 for 254 yards and run 7 times for 54 yards in the upset. The following week, Murray was on fire, going 27/43 for 306 yards and a TD against the Express.
Murray was brought back down to Earth by the Commanders in Week 6, and a head injury in Week 7 against Orlando didn’t help matters much.
In the final contest against Birmingham, Aaron split QB duties with Simms starting the first half and Murray wrapping up the second half- to largely the same deflated results.
On a positive note, Aaron had the highest completion percentage in AAF history (64.8%) among qualified throwers. He’d also throw for 1048 yards 3 TDs, one 2 point conversion, and 7 picks.
I had been after Aaron since his days at Kansas City and while he was a pretty reliable signer there, I was one of the few that didn’t get anything. I tried again right after the AAF cards came out- which was almost a week before the league folded. Thankfully I did get everything RTSed from the team. Finally I decided to give him another shot via his home address. I was happy to get 1 of 2 signed by him- but I am still kicking the tires on picking up a Topps Now card of him from his win over Arizona.
Aaron later joined the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL for 2020. When the Vipers did their joint practice with the Roughnecks, I pulled two more AAF cards and decided to take a shot. I staked him out for the entire practice, and at the end, was able to get him, thanks to another fan who was able to get him over with a Georgia mini. Murray then signed these two cards for me a few seconds afterwards.
Marquise Williams played for the San Antonio Commanders in 2019. A dangerous scrambler with great pocket presence and a great touch on the ball, Williams was a great change of pace for the Commanders from starter Logan Woodside. Initially moonlighting on 2 point conversions, Williams saw his play time increase as injuries, and a porous offensive line plagued Woodside over the season. After the Alliance collapsed in April of 2019, Marquise was spotted at the XFL tryouts.
Williams was selected by the New York Guardians in the XFL 2020 draft. He’d back up Matt McGloin at quarterback as the Guardians traded for Luis Perez from the Wildcats. With McGloin melting down early in the season, Williams saw some gametime action in relief against the Defenders and the Battlehawks, but by late February Luis Perez was named starter for the Guardians. Two games later the XFL ceased operations due to COVID.
Marquise has some great authentic autographs, so I wanted to pick these up since I was never able to get them while he was with the Commanders. The XFL certified was a pull, and much like its AAF predecessor, showcases just a simplified, nice, wholesome press photo of Marquise. Panini Contenders was doing some interesting stuff at the time of this evolutionary cycle of design with an image of Marquise on a design focused canvas. I am not much for the gaudiness of the Prism sets, but I really liked how Williams’ blue uniform pops from this silver background.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.