Cards: Score Supplemental 1990
Acquired: In Person, Houston Oilers Training Camp 1990
See Also: Gerald McNeil (2)
After setting a variety of receiving records at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Gerald McNeil went undrafted out of college because he checked in at a tiny 5″7′, 145. Undaunted Gerald was picked up by the NFL’s fledgling competition, the United States Football League, where he played for the Houston Gamblers in 1984-1985 as one of offensive coordinator Mouse Davis‘ Mouseketeers. In the run and shoot offense (with Jim Kelly as his quarterback) Gerald snagged 58 receptions for 1017 yards, a 17.6 average and 6 touchdowns. He’d be named to the USFL’s All Star Team as a punt returner by the Sporting News.
After the USFL disbanded, McNeil was drafted in the NFL’s supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns. Electrifying fans with his speed, McNeil was nicknamed ‘Ice Cube’ due to his tiny stature and incredible elusiveness. In 1986, during his first season with the Browns, McNeil returned both a punt (84 yards) and a kickoff (100 yards) for a touchdown. Gerald was primarily used as a return specialist during his career and earned a Pro Bowl nomination for his electrifying play in 1987. After finishing first in punt returns with 49 in 1989, Gerald was signed via Free Agency by the Houston Oilers in 1990. They hoped that he would duplicate his performance in the USFL and spell one of the Fab Four when they needed a sub, plus Bud Adams always enjoyed taking swipes and divisional competition. Gerald continued to be the primary punt and kick returner and get some spot playing time in his final season, retiring as a Houston Oiler after the 1990 season.
I got Gerald’s autograph at training camp that season while he was on the Oilers. Yes he was small- and a really nice guy. He had not seen his Score 1990 Supplemental card before and asked me if I had an extra. (It was the first time a player had put me on the spot like that.) Flabbergasted I told him I’d send him one. Back in those days though without the internet, it was hard to track down singles. I was able to get the card, but he retired before I was able to get it to him.
Games 76 Ret 91 Yds 1852 Avg 20.4 Lg 100T Td 1 | Pr 191 Yds 1717 Avg 9.0 Td 1 Lg 84T
Cards: Action Packed 1991, Action Packed 1992, Pro Set 1990.
Acquired: In Person 1993, CGA Youth Golf Tournament
Earnest Byner is best known for being the scapegoat from the 1987 Denver/ Cleveland playoff game entitled ‘the fumble’ when Byner played for the Browns. It is a shame because he actually was a very good player outside of this incident.
Byner was stolen in the 10th round of the 1984 draft by the Cleveland Browns after graduating from East Carolina. A well rounded player he could play fullback or halfback, because he was a great blocker, receiver, and tenacious runner. He worked his way into the lineup and by 1985 had a breakthrough season with over 1,000 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving.
After a subpar 1988, Byner was traded for Mike Oliphant to the Washington Redskins, where the second phase of his career would begin. This would also turn into one of the most lopsided trades (Herschel Walker trade aside) in the history of the league as Byner would lead the Redskins to the Superbowl in 1992. After his playing days with the Redskins were over, Byner returned to the Browns (1994-1995), before the franchise up and left for Baltimore where he finished his playing career in 1997.
After retiring Byner comfortably moved right into the coaching ranks and has seen stints with the Ravens, Redskins, Titans, and as of 2010 is with the Jaguars. He was also named as one of the 70 Greatest Redskins and was the first player inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor in 2001. Earnest showed up at the CGA Youth Golf Tournament and made us chase his golf cart. He signed on the move surprisingly well and was paired up with Steve McMichael during the tourney.
Games 211/132 Att 2095 Yds 8261 Avg 3.9 Td 56 lg 54
Rec 512 Yds 4605 Avg 9.0 Td 15 lg 40
Cards: ProSet WLAF 1991, ProSet WLAF LL 1991, Ultimate WLAF LL 1991, Ultimate 1991, Wildcard WLAF 1992.
Acquired: TTM 2010, C/o Home
Sent: 7/30 Received: 8/7 (8 days)
After debuting with the Atlanta Falcons out of the 1986 draft Tony Baker would hop over to the Browns that year where he’d sit out two seasons rehabbing, and then played with the Cardinals in 1989. The Frankfurt Galaxy of the WLAF drafted him in the first round of the league’s positional draft. He’d provide the third best team in the league in 1991 a shot in the arm as their workhorse utility back, leading the WLAF in rushing attempts, yards from scrimmage and two point conversions. (Baker would be the only player in the league that year to have over 1,000 yards in 1991 with 648 on the ground, 423 through receptions and 296 in kick return yards.) He would also be named WLAF player of the week (7) for his preposterous performance against the Orlando Thunder where he notched 192 total yards. In the 1992 season, the Frankfurt offensive line would be decimated by injuries and this would hamper Baker’s average per carry and receiving average drastically. He’d finish 11th in rushing yards that year and had only 857 yards from scrimmage. (The Galaxy would also slump to a 3-7 record.) Baker would finish his WLAF career far and away the leader in yards from scrimmage with 2,224 yards while the league reorganized after the 1992 season.
Games 20 Att 322 Yds 995 Avg 3.1 Lg 26 Td 7
Rec 78 Yds 745 Avg 9.6 Lg 35 Td 1
Ret 14 Yds 478 Avg 19.9 Lg 49 Td 0