Tag Archives: Carolina Panthers

Fox, Mike (DL)

Card: Action Packed Rookies 1990
Acquired: 2018, Paid Signing

At defensive tackle, Mike Fox could come alive and take over a game during his college days. A dominant defender, Fox was considered one of the best defensive linemen  to ever play for West Virginia. He had his best year in his Senior campaign, when he had 71 total tackles, 22 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks earning him Honorable Mention All-American.

He’d be selected in the second round by the New York Giants, who decided that his massive frame (6’6″, 272) was a good fit for their 3-4 alignment. They thought he had the versatility to play both defensive end and nose.  The Giants were pretty stacked with Erik Howard and Leonard Marshall, but were always looking for up and coming talent. Mike played sparingly his rookie year, but won Super Bowl XXV as a member of the team.

Mike’s best year with the Giants came as a full time starter in 1993. Playing at right defensive end he had 32 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery. He’d play with New York through 1994, and then was selected by the Carolina Panthers during their expansion draft. He had his best season as a pro for the expansion Panthers in 1995, posting 42 tackles, and 4.5 sacks in 16 starts. Over the next 3 additional seasons, injuries would catch up with Mike and hamper his productivity. The Panthers left him exposed for the Cleveland Browns Expansion Draft in 1999 but he’d go unselected. Soon thereafter he’d be cut and retired.

Mike seldom signs through the mail, so to get him on a cheap paid signing didn’t really ruffle my feathers too much. His autograph is pretty pedestrian, but the card is really nice. Thankfully he signed it on the front and not in that tiny autograph box on the back.

G/GS 133/84    TAC 198    SAC 17.0    FUM 4
INT 0     YDS 0       AVG -.-    TD 0    LG -.-

Smith, Tony (RB)

 Cards: GameDay 1992, Action Packed Rookies 1992, Classic 1992
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Home
Sent: 4/10      Received:  4/28  (18 days)

A speedy and dangerous all-purpose man while at Southern Mississippi, Tony Smith got to play alongside the likes of Brett Favre and Michael Jackson on offense. Over his career at the school he set school records, returning 2 kickoffs and 2 punts for touchdowns. In 1991 he ran for over 1,000 yards, (5.1 yards per carry) despite wearing a cast on his hand for half the season. Tony culminated his college career when he was named the Senior Bowl MVP after rushing for 72 yards on 12 carries.

The Falcons were in their 3rd year of the Glanville era. They traded away Brett Favre to the Packers, and cut future CFL career leading rusher Mike Pringle. The Falcons had an age purge at RB and the previous season they had failed to have any runningback reach 500 yards rushing. Steve Broussard and Erric Pegram would be the top backs out in the Red Gun offense. The team felt it still had a lot of needs, so Glanville was pretty unhappy when the team selected Tony Smith with the 1st round pick that they had gotten from the Brett Favre trade. You see Glanville didn’t have power over the draft and really thought the team should select a defensive back. (To put salt in the wound, Dale Carter, Darryl Williams, Ashley Ambrose, Darren Woodson, and Steve Israel all came off the board after this selection and had solid defensive back careers.) Much to Tony’s credit though- he was the highest rated tailback in the draft.

Smith was slow to get into camp- and was considered a holdout. He’d be the last first round pick to sign from the 1992 draft.  He was also the wrong style of back. Glanville liked smashmouth in-your-face backs, but Tony was a studder-step and make them miss back. He got out there his rookie season and started 6 games posting 87 carries for 329 yards and 2 TDs, but oddly enough, he’d never start another game again for the Falcons in the next two seasons.

Fans clamored to see more of Tony, and I am sure Tony was ready to show them what he had, so he put some time in on special teams where he demonstrated his capability as a dangerous return man. He finished 1993 with 38 kick returns for 948 yards and a 97 yard touchdown. Smith also returned punts- putting up a respectable 32 returns for 255 yards and a 51 yard long.  He saw even less activity in 1994- putting up only 408 total yards from scrimmage. Tony just couldn’t get out of Jerry Glanville’s doghouse.

It looked like a new start for Tony in 1995. The Falcons left him exposed in Free Agency and the expansion Carolina Panthers were providing him a new chance. While Tony had an impressive preseason, he suffered a gruesome injury against the Bears breaking both his tibia and fibia bones. He spent the entire ’95 season on IR. After rehabbing and spending a year away from football, Tony attempted a comeback with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 1998. He returned to the NFL in 1999 with the Philadelphia Eagles- but tore his hamstring in camp ending his career.

It is a shame that Tony’s career ended the way it did, but at least he is at peace with it. He had some great cards over that short run, with these 3 representing some of my favorites.

G/GS 33/6   RUSH 87      YDS 329        AVG 3.8      TD 2           LG 32
REC 2      YDS  14              AVG 7.0               TD 0          LG 8
KR 61      YDS 1453         AVG 23.8            TD 1          LG 97T
PR 56      YDS 485            AVG 8.7                TD 0         LG 51

Ismail, Raghib ‘Rocket’ (2)

Cards: Fleer 1996, All World Promo 1991, Classic 1991, Atomic 2001
Acquired: TTM, 2018
Sent: 1/2       Received: 1/8   (6 days)
See Also: Rocket Ismail

Shortly after attending one of the Dallas Cowboys Rally Days where I met Rocket and got his autograph on a handful of cards, he started signing TTM again. I thought initially, “Oh well,” but knew I needed to double back to him to get a few more cards signed. So rolling over to 2018, what better way to kick it off by getting Rocket again as my first autograph of the year?

These cards really offer a cross section of his career starting at Notre Dame on this Classic 1991 promo card. Hand it to Classic trying to be edgy out of the gate, but the name line feels right aligned because the weight is tied to WR. I also wasn’t too big a fan of the brushed granite look, but it beats the cheetah pattern they later used. Overall, it’s a great photo of Rocket and there were quite a few of them to choose from.

From there we move on to the terrible All World CFL series, which tries to emulate the ProSet 1989 design by just angling the lines. There’s also the terrible color choices as the red and blue just feel like they clash a bit too much. It does not help that the Argonaut helmet just sort of -sits there arbitrarily on the canvas. As a promo however it sells what it is: The first set to have Ismail in his professional debut threads.

After his time in the CFL, Rocket jumped back to the NFL courtesy of the Los Angeles Raiders. It seemed to make sense. I mean the only other place with as bright stars and marketing would be Dallas, right? I liked this card. Fleer 1995 was all.. over.. the.. place.. design wise from team to team. It embodied everything I liked and hated in the 1990s sets as the companies started really embracing Photoshop. This one for example has a very unnecessary grain. I like the fearlessness of the design on the front, but it is a bit too much.

After his time with the Raiders, a stop in Dallas was next. It took me a while to come around to the sets of the early 2000s as I didn’t collect any while I was on my football hiatus. Among them I liked the die cut Atomic. I have a soft spot for gimmicky cards, and these certainly look better once you see one.