Tag Archives: cincinatti bengals

Fears, Willie

jo93 fearsCards: Wild Card WLAF 1992, Jogo 1995
Acquired: TTM 2014, C/o Home
Sent: 1/7       Received: 1/16    (9 days)

Willie Fears took a strange,winding, inspiring route, to his dreams of being a professional football player and coach. Undrafted out of Northwestern Louisiana St in 1985, Willie played 5 games for the Ottawa Rough Riders in the CFL.  Invited to the Miami Dolphins minicamp, he showed up admittedly out of shape and had to put his career on hold.  He became a corrections officer at the Arkansas State Maximum Security Prison, but along came the NFL Players Strike in 1987. At 6’4″, 280, Fears had the frame to still play, and probably had the greatest vacation time ever from work, spending 3 weeks as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. Afterwards he went back to the CFL, playing for both Ottawa and Toronto in 1988 and 1989, before returning again to the NFL in 1990 as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

Willie was then drafted by the WLAF San Antonio Riders in 1992. Willie’s technical precision, skillset, and size, allowed the team to shift him into any of the 3 places on the line, which was invaluable to the Riders 3-4 alignment. An experienced force on the line, he proved difficult for offensive linemen to handle, and helped the Riders be one of the staunchest defenses in the league.  After the league went on hiatus, Willie begun a career playing in the Arena Football League. He’d sign with the Cleveland Thunderbolts and played for them through the 1993 season, before hopping back into the CFL with the Sacramento Gold Miners. In 1994 the Gold Miners moved to San Antonio and became the Texans. He’d join them there back in his old stomping grounds. Afterwards, Fears joined the AFL again, playing in 1996 for the Tampa Bay Storm, and then in 1997 for the Nashville Katz.

wcwlaf92 fearsHe then continued his dream by becoming a football coach.  In the ArenaFootball2 league, he’d coach with the Arkansas Twisters for 3 seasons, before joining Jay Gruden on the Predators to coach the linemen. Ironically, later Pat O’Hara, joined the staff replacing Gruden as head coach. Pat was a member of the Ohio Glory and probably felt Willie breathing down his neck more than once during the Riders 17-0 stomping of the Glory back in 1992. Fears remained with the Predators through 2011. Currently he lives in Arkansas. My first success from the Meiselman 2014 list, I had been looking for Willie for quite sometime, and had been unable to locate him since his stint ended with the Predators. He was kind enough to not only sign the Wild Card WLAF 1992 card I enclosed, but like Billy Hess also enclosed one of his own from the Jogo 1995 set. Unfortunately both of the autographs were smudged as he signed with an overhead Vis-A-Vis instead of a Sharpie. The Riders card was smudged beyond recognition, so I resent it back out with a team photo of him and the other linemen for Willie to keep. He sent it back in about 2 weeks signed with the marker I gave him.

AFL    Tac  46     Sac 9    FF 2    Int  0   Yds   0   Avg  -.-   Td 0   Lg -.-
WLAF  Tac   N/a    Sac   2   FF  0    Int 0   Yds 0   Avg -.-   Td 0  Lg -.-
NFL  2     Tac  N/a    Sac 0   FF 0   Int  0  Yds 0   Avg -.-   Td 0  Lg -.-
CFL  N/a


O’Donnell, Neil

gday92 o'donnellCards: ProSet 1991, GameDay 1992
Acquired: TTM 2014, C/o Home
Sent: 1/2    Received: 1/11  (9 days)

Neil O’Donnell is officially my first response to kick off 2014. He responded in 9 days signing 2 of the cards I sent. The third- a Skybox 1992-1993 ‘Colors’ edition he kept. It’s a shame as it was a nice card, but at the same time I am sometimes flattered when they keep a card or two.

Neil was of a long line of Maryland quarterbacks to make it to the NFL. He was proceeded into the league by noteworthy signalcallers such as: Boomer Esiason, Stan Gelbaugh, Frank Reich, and Mike Tice, while his back up Scott Zolak followed him into the NFL in 1991.  O’Donnell transferred to Maryland at the end of the Henning era in 1986, and split time with him as the starter in 1987. In 1988, Neil became the fulltime starter with young Scott Zolak hot on his heels for the job. An injury, suffered in the Virginia game allowed for an opening to be created, but Zolak could not keep Neil from retaining his starting job through the 1989 season.

pset91 o'donnellIn 1990 Neil O’Donnell was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Drafted in the 3rd round, he’d be the 5th quarterback off the board behind Jeff George (#1 overall), Andre Ware, Peter Tom Willis, and Tom Hodson. It was not considered a very strong position that year and after George and Ware, none of the quarterbacks that were taken were really expected to contribute as long term solutions unless serious investment was taken by those respected franchises.  The Steelers at that time seemed content at quarterback, with Bubby Brister leading the way and Neil riding the bench behind Rick Strom. In 1991, Bubby was injured and missed 8 games. Neil stepped up and delivered, setting the stage for an open quarterback competition in 1992. With new head coach Bill Cowher coming in, Neil took over the starting job and cemented his efforts, with his one and only Pro Bowl appearance.It’d be the 1995 season that O’Donnell was best known for. Powering the team through the playoffs the Steelers faced the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX. In that game Neil misfired on multiple hot reads, allowing for Larry Brown to pick him off twice, en route to the Cowboys 27-17 victory. O’Donnell’s legacy is unfairly remembered based on that game alone. As a final straw to many Steelers fans, Neil signed with the Jets after the season, eschewing the Steeler organization’s ‘fair’ offer.

Largely, Neil’s next few years were difficult to say the least. Stepping into Rich Kotite’s offense, Neil was injured and the team finished at a lowly 1-15. Kotite was fired and Bill Parcells took over in 1997. Neil fared well under Bill’s guidance, and threw 17 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. After the season, O’Donnell packed his bags for Cincinnati. While Neil again proved his worth in the pocket, leading the league with only 4 picks in 343 attempts, the Bengals finished at a lowly 2-9 under his direction.

He’d sign immediately with the Titans in 1999 where he’d enter the backup phase of his career, behind Steve McNair. Coach Fisher loves his veteran backups. Crafty, smart, adaptable, and ready to come into a game in a pinch, O’Donnell was a valuable member of the Titans organization. During the team’s Super Bowl run in ’99 Neil stepped in and led the team to a 4-1 record in McNair’s stead. He’d play sparingly over the next few seasons for the Titans, before retiring officially in 2004, after rejecting an offer from the Steelers to return to the organization to mentor young quarterback Ben Rothlisberger. Consequently the Titans organization under Jeff Fisher’s stead employed a scrappy veteran back up with Kerry Collins and Matt Hasslebeck both finding life as a journeyman under the reign of Fish.

O’Donnell lives in the Nashville area. He’s done color commentary for the Titans, but most recently has been involved in stadium turf sales.

G/Gs  125/100       Att  3229    Comp 1865      Yds 21690       Pct 57.8%      Td 120    Int  68      Rat   81.8  |
Rush  215    Yds  446           Avg  2.1      Td 4       Lg   27

Cosby, Quan


ud09 cosbymem cosby

Cards: Score 2009, Upper Deck 2009, Press Pass 2009, Press Pass 2009SE, Donruss Rookies & Stars 2009, Upper Deck Star Rookies 2009, Playoff Prestige 2009, Pacific 2009.

Acquired: 2/16/2013, Longhorn Neighborhood Foundation Bowling Tournament, GMC Texas NFL Tour 2013. 3/15/2014 Longhorn Neighborhood Foundation Bowling Tournament.
See Also: Quan Cosby (2)

dor&s09 cosbypp09 cosbyQuan Cosby had some great seasons for the Longhorns as one of Colt McCoy‘s go to targets at receiver. He also had a habit showing up when it counted, making the winning TD grab in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.  He finished his career at UT with 212 catches for 2,598 yards and 19 touchdowns.

At 5’9″, 196 many teams felt he was a bit undersized and he went undrafted. He quickly found a home with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals offensive system was predicated around their superstars, Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, and Chad OchoCinco. He was able to pac09 cosbypp09 cosbygrab a roster spot as a return man for the franchise while he honed his receiving skills buried on the depth chart. Over two seasons he grabbed 6 receptions for 71 yards. Cosby was very valuable at punt returner. In his rookie season Quan had 40 punt returns, (2nd in team history at the time, since surpassed,) for 474 yards. Both numbers led the NFL. In 2010 Cosby had 30 punt returns for 225 yards, but the team had been building up the receiver depth chart with guys like former Longhorn teammate Jordan Shipley. Quan was simply caught in a numbers game and was made a free agent after the season. He split the 2011 seasonudstar089 cosby poff09pres cosbywith 2 franchises: the Colts and the Broncos, where Denver put him back to work again as a punt returner. He signed with the Jaguars in 2012, where he was reunited with Shipley.

Again, Cosby was another player I got from the LNF Bowling tourney. I was very lucky to get him as he was walking out the door at the end of the day and he was kind enough to sign these two cards for me. Of note, Cosby is apparently a talented Baseball player, and spent a few years in the Angels farm system before joining the Longhorns in Austin.

sco09 cosbycosbyI decided on a whim to go a bit early and try to get him at the GMC Texas NFL tour that was going on in November of that year. The prize of the day was VY but I thought a nice consolation would be another Quan card. Why not? With little or no line for Cosby’s early start time, this allowed for him to chat with each and every fan. He was very accommodating and took a photo with me. Much to my surprise he also asked me about my thermal, and asked me where I had gotten it, telling me that he, “Liked my style.” He also gave me this pretty nice autographed photo to boot.

Cosby was also just penciled in by the Texas Longhorns to replace Rod Babers on their sideline reporting. Quan told me he had originally found out through Twitter because he had started receiving congratulations about the job. He said he was nervous because his interview was going to happen the day after the event we were currently at! I told him not to worry and that he’d do a great job. When I asked him how badly the Sooners were going to beat Texas, Quan said that he, “Had ultimate confidence in Case and that the Oklahoma team was young. We’d stand a good chance at winning.” I brushed it off as homerism, but you know what- he was right. I look forward to seeing Quan at future events around town now that I have restocked on his cards.

Overall, the GMC event was fairly well run. I did get the autograph of every player that attended that I wanted and to boot, the quality of the photographs were outstanding and on good Kodak photo paper.

I went to the 2014 Longhorn Bowling Tournament, hoping to – well… sneak in, utilizing one of my contacts from the 2013 event, but unfortunately he wasn’t there, so I felt my time there was inappropriately spent. On the way out I decided to spam Quan with a bunch of cards. After patiently waiting for him, he signed all my cards, and told me he hadn’t seen many of them before. He also broadly smiled when I told him he was right about the Longhorns beating Oklahoma.