Tag Archives: concussions

Welker, Wes ‘The Natural’

Card: Score 2009
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Home
Sent:  5/23    Received:   6/4     (12 days)

Wes Welker was a prolific slot man that played in the NFL from 2004-2015. Going undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2004, Welker had developed quite a reputation as a stellar return man and do-it-all offensive weapon for the Red Raiders, tying an NCAA record with 8 punt returns for touchdowns.

Welker signed with the San Diego Chargers, but was cut after the first game of the season to make room for another player. He’d catch on with the Dolphins who used him on kick and punt return duties. It’s there he’d burn the New England Patriots who took note of his unique skillset. As the anemic Dolphin offense continued to struggle, Welker went from being on the chopping block, to becoming the life blood of the offense. Opting not to resign Wes initially after the 2006 season, Welker became a restricted free agent.  That’s when the Patriots pounced.

Offering the required 2nd round tender, New England stripped their bitter rival of their best offensive weapon. Wes went on to become quarterback Tom Brady’s most reliable target. Over the next 6 seasons, Wes racked up 672 receptions for 7459 yards and 37 touchdowns- including a 99 yarder. In 5 of those seasons he had 110+ receptions, leading the league three times in 2007 (112), 2009 (123), and 2011 (122).  From 2008-2012 Welker earned ProBowl honors, with his 2009 and 2011 seasons earning him All Pro.

Facing a quandary after the 2013 season, the Patriots were unable to come to terms with Welker to keep him in New England. To top things off, he signed with the newly retooled Denver Broncos to be Peyton Manning‘s go to guy, but Wes got the concussion bug.

You see the NFL had decided to finally take a more aggressive stance on the issue, and Welker’s size and fearlessness in the slot lent him to take shots regularly to the head. He’d play the 2013 and 2014 seasons for the Broncos and a final swan song for the St. Louis Rams in 2015. Although he didn’t want to retire, most teams saw his injury proneness as a liability, so in a sense Wes was forced to retire.

In 2017, Welker returned to the NFL scene. He was quickly courted by the Houston Texans during the Senior Bowl in Mobile and named as an offensive assistant where he is reunited with his former coach Bill O’Brien and a host of other former Patriots. It is thought that at this time he will provide assistance coaching the Texans’ wide receiver corps and break down film.

When I saw that Wes Welker was signing via a few websites I follow that track autograph returns from players, I didn’t hesitate at quickly sending him out two of my favorite cards- Score 2009, and Donruss Rookies & Stars 2009 Gold. Now,  I did only get the Score 2009 back and Wes personalized it, but I always point out that personalization doesn’t bother me, and that I am happy getting one rather than none. Maybe he really liked that Donruss Rookies & Stars 2009 as much as I did!

G/GS 175/102    REC 903     YDS 9925    AVG 11.0    TD 50    LG 99T
KR  183     YDS 4138      AVG 22.6   TD 1   LG 95T
PR 264      YDS 2584      AVG 9.8       TD 0   LG 71

Watters, Ricky ‘Running’

aprks91 rwatters stpi91 rwatters

Cards: Action Packed Rookies 1991, Star Pics 1991
Acquired: TTM 2011, C/o Home
Sent:  2/14/11              Received: 12/10/15       (1760 days)

Ricky Watters really distinguished himself at Notre Dame not only as just a runningback but as a flanker for the Irish (after Tim Brown departed for the NFL) in 1988.  He’d help the team secure the National Championship at the conclusion of the year. Ricky returned to his native position in 1989 and finished second in team rushing yards behind Tony Rice.  He ended his college career at ND with 1,814 yards rushing and 2,424 yards receiving. A surprisingly nimble return man, Watters also had 502 yards and 3 TDs on punts. Ricky had an extremely unique rushing style that allowed him to absorb hits while staying upright, and dodge would be ankle tackles by high-stepping.  Big and fast, with exceptional and fluid quickness to the hole, Ricky was considered a very good athlete by scouts, but they were unsure of his ability to run north-south.  San Fransisco selected Ricky in the second round with the fourth pick in the 1991 draft. Watters had his work cut out for him, being in the unenviable position of replacing longtime stalwart back Roger Craig.

Ricky’s rookie season was a complete loss for the 49ers as he spent the whole year shelved on injured reserve. He’d return for 1992 to pick up the slack and run for over 1,000 yards and a Pro Bowl appearance. While his next two seasons were middling near 1,000 yards rushing, it was really his ability to catch out of the backfield that made Watters an adaptable and dangerous runningback. In Super Bowl XXIX, Watters scored 3 touchdowns, but was beaten out for MVP honors by Steve Young.

In 1995, Ricky signed a lucrative free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles helping to turn around the franchise’s bad fortunes. Running Waters had 1,707 yards from scrimmage that year, and led the league the next year in both carries (353) and yards from scrimmage (1,855). Despite having a pretty good season in 1997, Ricky was allowed to leave for greener pastures in 1998- signing with the Seattle Seahawks. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the next 3 seasons, and another 1,855 yards from scrimmage in 2000, but he did not earn Pro Bowl honors again. Overshadowed by young Shaun Alexander in Seattle, Watters entered a period of semi-retirement after the 2001 season.  He was contacted by many teams including the Eagles, Bucs, and Colts, but eventually opted to retire.

Watters’ body has suffered from the punishment of the hits he took over the years- A byproduct of 2,622 carries and 467 receptions. He like many players suffers from concussions, and is a member of the concussion litigation group that took the league to court. Many of his injuries were misdiagnosed and healed incorrectly, such as his cracked sternum. He also suffers from arthritis. Despite all this Ricky gives back to the community by through the Ricky Watters Foundation, coaching, and around the Orlando area, where he hopes to instill grounded values into his boys. He loves to paint and recently went back to school to receive his degree in Graphic Design from Notre Dame.

Watters is a member of the vaunted 10,000 yard club and finished with 5 Pro Bowl appearances. His 3 TDs from scrimmage during Super Bowl XXIX ties a mark held by Jerry Rice, Terrell Davis, and Roger Craig. Running Waters also holds two other interesting distinctions: He along with Willis McGahee are the only two runningbacks to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season with 3 different teams. His career long carry of 57 yards is also the lowest among runningback with over 10,000 yards- meaning he really ground out the yards.

While he has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he has not made it to the final cut.

Many years ago, I mailed the 49ers for Ricky’s autograph on the Action Packed Rookies card, but when I received the card back, it was stamped on the back. When I returned to the hobby in 2010, I decided to get this card signed again. I did not realize how long I’d wait as this response is now the longest wait/response in my collection.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a total stranger on Facebook, asking me if I had lived in California. Well after a long conversation it was revealed that the new tenant at my old address (from which the forwarding had expired some- 3 years ago or so) had received a few pieces of mail of mine, so I kindly gave her my forwarding address.

About a week or two later, I received a really nice Christmas card from her. Inside was a handwritten note, that warmed my heart. I had always wondered what it was like to receive a TTM request, and this really almost felt like it, especially when they told me that they had been looking for me for such a long time and how much it mattered to them to get these autographs in the right hands.

Lo and behold were autographs from Ricky Watters and Bruce Lasane (both circa 2011).  The people who mailed them to me asked nothing in return except that I have a Merry Christmas. (I am still going to send them a gift card or something.)

It’s so hard in this world now, to genuinely take people at face value when they just want to do something good for you. It’s so easy to not trust, or believe that there’s a hidden motivation behind everyone’s actions. I could have just said, “No way, I’m not giving you my address!”, but instead I just went with my gut and the sincerity that was contained in the original message. Anyway, if there is a moral to be learned from this, I guess it’s that there are good strangers in this world.  Merry Christmas everybody!

G/Gs 144/142     Rush 2622    Yds   10643      Avg 4.1     Td 78      Lg 57
Rec  467          Yds 4248          Avg9.1         Td 13            Lg 65

 

 

 

Dorsett, Tony ‘TD’

udldg97 dorsettCard: Upper Deck Legends 1997
Acquired: IP, 11/22/14 Star Power Signing, Dallas,Tx

So Josh and I went to Dallas to nab Tony Dorsett. We thought that by leaving a few hours early, it’d get us a decent place in line. We got lucky. Encountering 2 hour delay due to an overturned semi on I-35, we arrived with only an hour and 15 minutes before the event. Still we hopped in line and took our place 3 quarters of the way around the building.

Two observations about the actual event:

I have never been to a ‘Star Power’ location. I probably would never go there again. Glitz, glamour, and a lot of the usage of the word ‘affluent’ to put off anybody who would ask, “How much is this?” It screamed of excess and the place flat out embraced it. To them, most of us who showed up were just a working class sideshow at the event.

In my time collecting, I have never been as incensed by the amount of flagrant double-dipping going on. There is no need for you to get your children to go and get the same item signed. 3 Tony Dorsett helmets, with one for each kid who didn’t care about football or who they were meeting.  It was just so obvious that there was a lot of people getting paid for this and that there was going to be an Ebay flood of items later that day.

Tony Dorsett was a one man dynamo for Pitt from 1973-1976, leading the school to a National Championship, Heisman accolades, and was the all-time leading rusher in college history with 6,082 yards.  A first round choice of the Cowboys (#2 overall) in 1977, he won NFL Rookie of the Year Honors  with 1,007 yards and 12 TDs. Over the course of his 11 year career in Dallas, Dorsett was named All Pro 4 times and won a Super Bowl title. He also holds the NFL record for longest TD run with a 99 yard gallop against the Minnesota Vikings in 1983. As injuries began to take their toll on the venerable back and the arrival of fresh legs in the form of Herschel Walker in 1987, Dorsett was traded to the Denver Broncos in 1988 playing one season before he retired.  At the time of his retirement, Dorsett was the second All-Time leading rusher in NFL history, and of a less distinguished note, was top 5 in fumbles with 90. He is the only player in NFL history to win the Heisman, and then win the Super Bowl and NFL Rookie of the Year the following season. To top it all off, Tony was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994, and had his number retired at Pitt.

Dorsett is one of the major names that has come out in regards to concussion litigation against the NFL. Tony in particular has suffered so many concussions he lost track. He suffers from memory loss, depression, and dementia due to CTE.  He was not in in great shape when I saw him, but Tony very graciously stayed over his appointed time to get everybody knocked out who was in line. He signed this one card for me, and tried to interact with every fan he met.

G/Gs 173/152      Rush 2936     Yds  12,739   Avg  4.3    Td 77     Lg 99t      |
Rec  398      Yds 3,554    Avg 8.9     Td 13    Lg 91