A dangerous punt returner with fleet speed, Ray-Ray McCloud the III, played college ball at Clemson from 2015-2017. He earned Second Team All-American honors with 25 punt returns for 303 yards and a TD. Playing receiver for the Tigers, McCloud piled up 1226 yards on 127 career receptions with 4 touchdowns. An intriguing player, the Bills selected Ray-Ray during the 6th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. With the Bills receiving corps shaky to say the least- Ray-Ray was elevated off the practice squad and caught his first pass for 6 yards in a 27-6 win over the Vikings in Week 3.
Cards: Topps AAF 2019, Topps AAF 2019 Certified Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, EBay 2019 Sent: 4/11 Received: 5/3 (22 days)
When the different AAF groups were talking about what players they were impressed by, I was surprised that they brought up the lumber laying Orion Stewart. He was apparently really impressing in camp for the Commanders. He quickly proved to me during that first game what a force he was for SA in the secondary, laying down the law against the Fleet. In that first game he hauled in a pick, deflected two passes, and made 6 tackles. At the end of the game, he and a gaggle of players came over to the visitor’s endzone and mugged my sister and me for hugs… well primarily my sister- but still it was a great memory to make- and Stewart became one of my favorite players.
Orion was a 3 time All-Big 12 safety at Baylor, playing in 49 games while starting 36 of them. He recorded 12 interceptions over his time playing for the Bears, and ended up third on the school charts with 227 career interception return yards.
Stewart was not selected in the 2016 NFL Draft- and saw brief stops with the Broncos, Redskins, Giants, and Bills. In 2018 he signed with the Commanders and he and Derron Smith made the most fearsome safety duo in the league. He also came up with a nickname for the secondary (- which was one of the league leaders in creating turnovers), calling their group “Area 51”. In fact at the last game, I brandished a homemade sign with it on there as well.
After the league collapsed, Orion signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. He signed his base card in 22 days- which was a day after his certified arrived in the mail. I got an incredible deal on the certified autograph. I got 4 for about half the price of a hobby box, and a hobby box typically comes with 3 autographs, so you do the math.
I never thought I’d ever get Sammy Watkins due to the fact that he’s never signed really through the mail, and also because he’s never quite been the player I’ve been interested in. It’s not that I didn’t want his autograph. It’s just that it never occurred to me that I could get his autograph.
This is the first card that I’ve gotten from the Instant Rewards Program that Panini is rolling out and I am quite pleased. I was opening up a blaster box of Panini Contenders 2018 and there was this card in there for 150 points to spend through this program. I went to the website. It was slow and a bit woeful to navigate, but I zeroed in on this gem of an autograph. Then I hem hawed between buying 3 50 point autographs or just getting one for 150. Obviously in the end I went for this one. (The design really sticks out on this card, and it is a limited print run- for what that is worth.) The advantages I’d say for the IRP is that you can actually choose from and see a pretty large sampling of cards and autographs (-and they are fair ones, not just ‘floating wood’).
The disadvantages are if you are just set hunting for say.. Panini Contenders 2018 autographs, there was nothing to be found. The delivery time said 6-8 weeks, so I hunkered down for a long wait, but lo and behold less than 2 weeks later the envelope arrived with this pretty little autograph inside. Still a 6-8 week reported turn around and having to pay for shipping is a bit terrible. Also the boxes don’t state on the outside ‘additional purchase maybe necessary’.
Beyond that as I have gotten more points over time I’ve noticed that the inventory rarely changes on the bottom end and old cards and autographs that would be worth even less in this current market are left at their still high price values.
Sammy Watkins played for Clemson University across from DeAndre Hopkins. A 3 year starter from 2011 to 2013, Sammy compiled 240 receptions for 3,391 yards and 27 TDs. He also returned kicks as well with 60 career returns for 1376 yards and a TD. His best year came in 2013 when he caught 101 passes for 1,464 yards and 12 TDs- including a 96 yarder. He was considered the best receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft, and was selected 4th overall by the Buffalo Bills.
Sammy had a pretty good rookie season. He’d turn some heads starting all 16 games catching 65 passes for 982 yards, 6 TDs and an 84 yard long. The Bills themselves were going through a transition at QB with EJ Manuel. Still Sammy’s numbers were solid enough to set Bills rookie records for catches and yards. Watkins 2015 stood out as the best of his young career so far. He posted 60 catches for 1047 yards- a whopping 17.5 yards per catch, and 9 TDs in just 13 games. 2016 didn’t end well though as a broken foot limited him to just 8 starts and 430 yards on 28 receptions.
The Bills traded Sammy to the Rams in exchange for EJ Gaines and some draft picks changing hands. Expected to be Jared Goff‘s #1 target for 2017, Sammy finished the season with 39 receptions for 593 yards and 8 TDs in his lone year with LA.
He joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, and in 10 contests he caught 40 passes for 519 yards and 3 Tds.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.