Card: ProSet 1991 Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o The New York Jets Sent: 10/1 Received: 12/31 (91 days)
Admittedly, it’s a bit grim when you get a player or coach’s autograph in the mail from them right after they get cut or fired. Case in point- Todd Bowles. He took over Gang Green after Rex Ryan was dismissed from the franchise in 2015. He posted a solid 10-6 record right out of the box that year, but the team did not make the playoffs. Over the next 3 seasons, the Jets failed to rally back into the AFC East race, finishing dead last each year with identical 5-11 records in 2016 and 2017, and a 4-12 mark in 2018.
The franchise hired a new GM and then couldn’t find a quarterback to hitch the team to until the 2018 season. In the meantime they constantly missed on draft choices or had a lack there of and in the 2018 season lost 6 games by less than a TD. Todd was released after the season, but not before he dropped this card in the mail – signing one of two for me. He was quickly snatched up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their open defensive coordinator position in 2019 reuniting him with Head Coach Bruce Arians.
Todd has a rich coaching history. Technically a disciple of the Al Groh coaching tree, Todd served at a variety of stops in college before hitting it big in the NFL with the Jets as a secondary coach in 2000. He served as a defensive coordinator and secondary coach in 1997 for Morehouse and in 1998 and 1999 in the same capacity for Grambing State. Bowles joined the Browns in 2001 and remained with the franchise through 2004, eventually becoming the franchise’s secondary coach. He then coached with the Cowboys under Bill Parcells from 2005-2007, again in the secondary, before working with the Dolphins in 2008, where he’d get a taste of head coaching in 2011 going 2-1 as the interim head coach. Todd spent a year with the Eagles, and then in 2013 was the defensive coordinator for the Cardinals, where he enjoyed the most success paired with head coach and offensive guru Bruce Arians. He earned AP Assistant Coach of the Year Honors before embarking on his whirlwind tour of New York.
Amazingly- Todd has a very long playing resume as well. Going undrafted out of Temple in 1986, he signed with the Redskins playing Free Safety with the franchise through 1990- earning one Super Bowl ring. Bowles hopped over the 49ers in 1991 spending one season with the team. He’d then return to the Redskins for two more seasons before heading into coaching.
Card: Topps AAF 2019 Acquired: IP 2019, San Antonio Commanders v The Arizona Hotshots
Lost in the JUCO shuffle to SMU, cornerback Sterling Moore went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.
He’d sign with the Oakland Raiders, and then end up on the roster of the Patriots that year. Called up to active play from the practice squad, Sterling helped New England in a pinch make the Super Bowl that year. Sterling returned to the practice squad in 2012, but was snapped up by the Dallas Cowboys. Sterling again saw some emergency time over the next year or so before earning a role as the team’s nickelback. In 2015, Moore signed with the Bucs, and saw a mix of playing time starting at corner and also as the nickelback, starting 8 contests. After a quick pitstop with the Bills, Sterling spent the next year and a half with the New Orleans Saints. He’d start a career high 12 games, recording 2 picks, 56 total tackles, and 13 pass deflections in 2016. Sterling signed with the Detroit Lions in 2018, but did not make the squad.
Moore joined the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance in early 2019. He’d record 7 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble and 23 total tackles in 8 starts.
Sterling came over during warmups when he realized I had a card and signed this one for me. After the Commanders game ended, I gave him one to keep which he really appreciated.
That’d be the last game in AAF history, but Sterling was later selected in the 2019 XFL draft by the Seattle Dragons during the defensive back portion, with their final overall pick.
The Outland Trophy Winner in 1987, Chad Hennings was an excellent defensive lineman who had to defer playing in the NFL to serve his time in the military and fought in the Gulf War. Thanks in part to his service, his stock dipped severely in the 1988 NFL Draft. He’d be selected in the 11th round by the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t until 1992 that Chad would become available to the Cowboys to play, thanks in part to military staff reductions.
He’d play with a burgeoning Cowboys defense initially seeing time on special teams. Rotating into the lineup Chad saw a career high 7 sacks in 1994. He started his first game in 1995, and played with the Cowboys through 2000 when injuries began to catch up with him.
All in all Chad was a pretty sneaky draft pick by the Cowboys. They signed him to a contract and paid him a minimal amount to keep his rights until they could pry him from his commitments and it really paid off. They got 6 solid years out of him and 72 starts.
I know why Chad looks a bit exasperated in this 1992 Upper Deck card here. It’s because it was probably taken at Cowboys Training Camp at St. Edwards. As a frequent denizen early on in those years- if the heat didn’t get you, the humidity was surely close behind. I do not like the card one bit. His hands are completely off the canvas and there’s no action to this shot whatsoever. I didn’t mind the stone look to the production, but it felt like it cheapened the look and value of their initial foray with their 1991 effort as they look so similar.
His GameDay 1992 card is solid outside of his foot looking mangled since they didn’t want to include the grass or fake it. It’s an exciting action shot of him taking off and overall it is framed quite well. I had wanted to get Chad on these cards way back at training camp over the years, but by the time I got these cards, things were already going big and neon at Cowboys Training Camp at St. Edwards. It was a madhouse to get autographs, and autograph alley had become somewhat of a chest pressing spectacle for both observers and players alike. – So understandably the best route was TTM some 20 years later.
Chad actually haunts me. He was in a Sports Illustrated article where he talked about the dream of coming back to football… How he could smell the grass, his coaches still barking at him to get in the game, making a play. I still have those dreams, and wish I could go back and change things.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.