Tag Archives: chicago bears

Lewis, Darren ‘Tank’

Cards: Star Pics 1991, Action Packed Rookies 1991
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 7/3 Received: 11/25 (145 days)

Darren Lewis was a star tailback for the Texas A&M Aggies. In 1988 he set the school mark with 1692 yards on 306 carries (7 TDs), and then in 1990 miss breaking that mark by just 1 yard. Darren’s 1691 yards and 18 TDs were enough though to help earn him the SWC Player of the Year Honor. He’d cumulatively break the 5k barrier, (5,012 yards) which ranked 5th all time collegiality. Darren also set the school mark for most career TDs with 45. All in all Lewis set 25 school records at A&M.

It’s hard to say how Darren’s career would have ended up if things played out differently, and it’s hard to avoid the elephant in the room when thinking about his career in retrospect- as it was marred by drugs. When I try to write about players, I try to avoid talking about their personal problems, but in this case, it completely derailed Lewis’ future career and earnings. There is no way to avoid it.

-Expected to go early in the 1991 draft, his stock plummeted after he tested positive for cocaine at the combine.

Darren’s stock slid precipitously until he was selected by the Chicago Bears in the 6th round of the NFL Draft. To make matters worse- Bears executives admitted that they thought it was somebody else who they thought tested positive for drugs, and in a last second backpedal, considered not even inviting Darren to minicamp- even though Lewis was already checked into drug rehab.

Darren saw sparing action in 1991 running for just 36 yards behind Neal Anderson. 1992 proved to be the high-water mark in Darren’s NFL career, starting the last 4 games of the season, averaging 22.2 yards on 23 kickoffs, and rushing 90 times for 382 yards and 4 TDs. He also added 18 receptions for 175 yards as well for a grand total of 557 yards from scrimmage.

After a frustratingly slow start to Darren’s 1993 season under new head coach Dave Wannstedt, Darren was arrested for domestic dispute. The team had enough, and after 33 NFL games, Darren’s time with Chicago came to a thudding close. He had a tryout for the Cardinals but opted to return home to Dallas and retired.

Darren has struggled continued to struggle with his demons. He lost a lot of things along the way including his wife and house. Currently Darren is serving a 27 year sentence after pleading guilty to three counts of interference with commerce by robbery and one count of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

I sent to a home address that I had for Darren, and after about 3-4 months I got a response back. The postmark was from Shreveport- where I’d assume he’s being housed in federal prison.

G/GSRUSHYDSAVGTDLG
33/61124313.8433
RECYDSAVGTDLG
222019.1030
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2552421.0197T

George, Jeff (2)

Cards: Topps 1990, Score 1990, Fleer 1990, Gameday 1992, Skybox 1993-94 Colors
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 3/23 Received: 11/5 (227 days)
See Also: Jeff George

Ah Jeff George- One of the most reliable TTM respondents in the business. I had originally gotten him way back in 2011 on 3 cards- but over the years had stocked up on some absolutely beautifully designed canvases I wanted to see his autograph grace. Usually a very quick signer, I was surprised to wait some 220+ days for his autographs on these cards, however true to his ways, I just had to be patient and they showed up.

Probably my favorite among them is this Skybox 1993-94 card. I only discovered these cards right at the intersection of my dead cat bounce in collecting- and right as the industry really started going off the rails. At the time, something as over produced as this with the duotone background was still novel. Photoshop and current design standards we take for granted today were barely getting off the ground. I only got a few of these from packs at a Hollywood Video, but I’ve kicked the tires a few times about buying a box wholesale now.

Jeff’s 1992 Gameday card is solid. It’s obvious that I was at the bottom of his mailbag- as he dispensed with the formality of personalizing the cards, and his signature looks a bit rushed on these cards. The framing itself is a great example of when Gameday’s design decisions really paid off as this canvas is exciting and it looks as though he is launching off of it.

I did feel guilty asking for 5 but, I reasoned that I had held off sending back to him for 8 years or so- so that made me feel a bit better about breaking my own rule.

Of these three other college uniform cards, I didn’t have the Fleer one, and it was considered rare back in the day. I got a box of Fleer 90 a few months ago, and I had forgotten how simple and elegant these cards were- despite the floating helmet. I remember Josh laughing at the Score 90 card because George wasn’t even throwing in the shot. He was even less generous about the Topps 90 one, but myself I do appreciate it as you rarely see a well composed shot of a QB under center next to his hogs.

In 2019 Jeff was spotted taking his son Jayden- an accomplished pro-style quarterback on recruiting visits around the country. Although his response took a while, Jeff did take the time to read my letter and in response to my suggestion that he consider coaching in the XFL- he wrote on the letter, “Perhaps in the future.”

Babers, Rod (4)

Card: TNT UT Legends
Acquired: IP, 2014
See Also: Rod Babers

Over the years I’ve pretty much tapped out the complete card collection of Rod Babers. He’s a great local radio personality, and a really big fan and student of sports. It seems that whenever I run into him- we pick up where we left off, promise to hang out, and never get around to it. I mean maybe its the unsaid rule I follow that is basically even if a person is a D-list celebrity you should give them a lot of space. We tried to network for a Texans game in 2017, but that fell through. In the meantime he had a fallout with 1300 the Zone, but thankfully picked up right where he was at with ESPN doing what he does best.

I decided to pop in and say hi in 2018- A year after the last time I saw him at the Texans draft party when I had accurately predicted the Texans would trade up to take Deshawn Watson. We again picked up where we left off, and just started talking sport. His team thanked me for coming by and hanging out and we chatted for a bit. It was good times. We talked briefly about the AAF and the Texans but really weren’t able to get into details since he was pretty busy.

We catch up from time to time and he’s always very personable and friendly and loves to sign autographs.