Tag Archives: berlin thunder

Johnson, Lee

tntafl14 lee johnsonCard: TNT AFL 2014
Acquired: IP 5/17/14, San Antonio Talons vs. New Orleans Voodoo

Coach Johnson is a veteran of many leagues as both a player and a coach. He’s spent time in the NFL, CFL, NFLE, and AFL. Among his highlights, Johnson coached the defensive line of the Berlin Thunder to two consecutive World Bowl Championships in both 2001 and 2002. He then coached the Denver Crush to the Arena Football Championship in 2004. After taking the reins of the Talons, he coached them to a 14-4 record and a division title, in 2012.

After the San Antonio Talons game against the Iowa Barnstormers I gave out my custom cards to many players on the field. It created such a stir that Coach Johnson came over and asked me where his was. After I joked with him a few seconds about sharing the same first name, he quickly extracted a promise from me to make a custom for him as well.

I arrived at the Talons game versus the Voodoo early as usual. After talking to the COO of the Talons and giving him a copy of the set, he went over to Lee to show him what I had done. Coach immediately came over and talked to me with a broad smile, signed the card and thanked me for the extras. He asked me what I wanted for the cards I made and gave to him, but as usual the most important thing for me is the autograph gracing the card for my own collection, and their enduring happiness and willingness to chase their dreams. You know, on that note, I have always subscribed to the ultimate belief that a true gift is one that is not expected, and for purposes of what I had given to each of these players I know it meant a lot to them.

 

Ware, Andre ‘Air Ware’ (2)

pset90 wareCards: Pro Set 1990, Upper Deck College Legends 2011
Acquired: 4/30/15, Houston Texans Draft Party
See Also: Andre Ware ‘Air Ware’

Lance and I arrived at the 2015 Houston Texans Draft Party with high hopes, but were ultimately disappointed when we didn’t have cards of the Ambassadors who showed up, and the players I did have a card of were only taking photo ops. Queue the Astrodome air raid siren, because Andre Ware came to the rescue.

As Lance and I made our way towards the photo op booth, I heard a familiar voice on TV. Andre Ware was being interviewed on Fox Spots Southwest. Recognizing that the broadcast was taking place in the stadium, I walked over to one of the people working at the stadium and asked them where Andre was. The stadium employees identified it as being at radio row where only the VIP fans were allowed. We got as close as the elevator, and after borrowing a pen and waiting for about 15 minutes, Lance and I decided to locate the ground floor exit of the VIP area to get a better vantage point.  We walked for about 5 minutes, and emerging out of the crowd from the other direction, wasudlgd11 ware Andre Ware. Kudos to Andre for cheerfully signing 2 cards for me and Lance, even though he had his hands full with two kids by his side and all their stuff.

I can’t encourage collectors enough to build out a compact and expanded box of cards that covers the full gamut of players, former players, and sports personalities. With Andre covering the Texans on the radio as a color commentator and also being  a local legend, it made sense to have a few extras on the off chance he did make an appearance.  Otherwise  these are great cards of Ware, and leaves me with only a handful of extras that I would love to have autographed for my collection.

Ware, Andre “Air Ware”

pset90 wareCards: Pro Set 1990 Heisman Winner, Pro Set 1991 Heisman Hero, Score 1990, Action Packed Rookies 1990
Acquired: TTM 2012, C/o Home
Sent: 9/7     Received: 12/12   (96 days)

Way back in the days of the SWC (SouthWestern Conference) the Houston Cougars were continually struggling for attention under the heels of the traditional powerhouses of the conference. While peppering occassional league titles and bowl appearances, the team went some 10 years without a top 25 finish from the late 70s through the mid-late 80s. It’d be with the arrival of Jack Pardee that the team experienced a renaissance, and return to the national stage. Andre Ware stepped up at quarterback to command Pardee’s Run ‘N Shoot offense in 1989. Despite being under pressure from NCAA sanctions limiting scholarships, and a bowl and TV ban, the Coogs posted a 9-2 record.  Ware lit the offensive record books on fire, including a 95-21 drubbing of SMU, where Andre threw 6 TDs in one quarter. Andre went on to set 13 NCAA records, including most yards passing in a season (4,699),pset91 ware HH while his 46 TD passes fell one short of Jim McMahon‘s record. Ware won the Heisman in 1989 after the season during 4th closest vote- ahead of RB Anthony Thompson (Indiana),  QB Major Harris (West Virginia), and QB Tony Rice (Notre Dame).  Initially Ware intended to stay for his Senior season at UH, but with Jack Pardee bolting for the Houston Oilers down the street- Andre changed his mind and declared for the 1990 NFL draft.

When the draft rolled around I had hoped the Oilers would take Ware to become quarterback Warren Moon‘s heir apparent but Andre did not last long enough for the Oilers to nab him. The Lions took Ware at #7. (The Oilers later in the round took another UH alum instead- linebacker Lamar Lathon.)

The Lions ran the ‘Silver Stretch’ Run ‘N Shoot variant under head coach Wayne Fontes, and offensive coordinator Mouse Davis. At quarterback the team had Rodney Peete, and Bob Gagliano, but the Lions were truly built to run with Barry Sanders in the backfield. Ware only started 1 game over the next two seasonssco90 ware rarely getting a chance behind Peete and later Erik Kramer. He was rumored to have alienated players and coaches with his attitude, but Ware, just wanted to play. The Oilers in the meantime attempted to trade Cody Carlson on two occasions to the Lions for Ware, but failed.

After the 1994 season, Andre began the journeyman phase of his career. Over the next few years, Ware saw offseason stops with the Vikings, Raiders, and expansion Jaguars, before finally landing in the CFL with the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1995. Later he signed with the BC Lions in 1996, and then found himself backing up Doug Flutie on the Grey Cup Championship winning Toronto Argos in 1997.

Andre last played football in 1999 for the Berlin Thunder in the NFLE, finally retiring after the season due to a fractured shoulder.

Andre has kept to his hometown area, working in the Houston media. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. He currently works for the Houston Texans as a radio color analyst.

Ware marks another in a long line of players that I really wanted on aprks90 waretheir cards. With an abundance of amazing shots, it is easy to notice that many of the companies had Andre tabbed as one of the next big superstars and did not want to have their set left in the cold. I had previously attempted to get Andre through my Houston Texans connection, but that obviously failed when he was cut. It took me some time but with some responses popping up occasionally through sports collectors, I jumped at the opportunity to sign the former Cougars’ signal caller. I really couldn’t decide which cards to send to him. His ProSet 1990 Lions card, and Andre’s Score 1990 Supplemental card also deserved some mention along with these 4. Even his Pacific entry had a nice, dynamic look to it. Feeling guilty about sending these four cards, I sent a check for the autographs, but Andre voided the check, and signed and inscribed all of them, in a bit under 100 days.

G/Gs 14/6    Att 161   Comp 83     Yds 1116    Pct 51.6     Td 5   Int 8    Rat 79.4  |
Rush 38     Yds  217    Avg  5.7    Td 0    Lg 32

CFL 29     Att  252    Comp 134   Yds 1542   Pct 53.1    Td 10  Int 10  |
Rush 40   Yds 316    Avg 7.9      Td 1    Lg 39

WLAF    Att 121   Comp 54   Yds 715   Pct  44.6      Td  4   Int 4   Rat 61.1
Rush 16   Yds  170   Avg  10.6    Td 2     Lg 45