Tag Archives: Dallas Cowboys

Holmes, Clayton

Card: Topps Stadium Club 1992
Acquired: In Person 1993, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp

Clayton Holmes’ story is a tragic and cautious tale. A 3rd round pick out of tiny Carson-Newman in 1992, Holmes went from rags to riches in the matter of days. (An amazing athlete, it was reputed that Holmes ran a 4.29 in the 40.) After an acceptable rookie season, where he was second on the team in special teams tackles and forced a fumble in the SuperBowl, it appeared that things were on the up and up for the young defensive back. Unfortunately, during the 1993 preseason, Clayton sustained a season ending injury and began to spend money and abuse drugs and alcohol at an unusual rate which led to him being suspended multiple times for weed. Holmes picked up some spot kick and punt return duty in his final two seasons with the Cowboys before his release in 1995. It is said that his multiple run ins with the league over his off the field problems coupled by his injuries led to Clayton’s release. He was contacted by his former coach Jimmy Johnson (who was now coaching in Miami)  and asked Holmes if he was clean. Holmes, insisted he was and was signed by the Dolphins, but subsequently was suspended for a year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Dolphins waived Clayton- without him ever playing a down for the team. Johnson stated openly that he worried about Clayton and his future. Holmes played some minor league indoor football for the Topeka Knights, and the Kansas Koyotes before finally retiring from football and dropping off the face of the Earth.

In 1998 Clayton tragically tried to commit suicide, but in the end returned to his hometown of Florence, SC where he lived in a trailer with no running water or electricity behind his parents house. He has persevered since hitting rock bottom and has found peace.  A deeply spiritual man, Clayton is currently an activist for Cannabis reform.

I got Clayton’s autograph in 1993, with the Cowboys at St. Edwards. He had a beaming smile and you could tell he was so happy to be there. Clayton was so full of life, and he couldn’t turn down an autograph request, signing as many as he could. He was a kid, and I felt in that brief moment we were much alike. It’s sad how far Holmes had fallen. I can not pass judgement so harshly on such a man and hope only for the best for Clayton Holmes.

G/Gs 39/7        Tac 35         Sac 0       Fum 2
Int 1       Yds 3       Avg 3.0       Td 0     Lg 3

Aikman, Troy

Card: Proset 1989
Acquired: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp 1991

Troy Aikman was the #1 pick of the phenomenal 1989 NFL Draft. His career started badly enough, with a 0-11 record as a starter in his first season. He’d have to wait till 1990 for his first win as a starting quarterback. (Steve Walsh would also be drafted in 1989 to compete against Aikman, and won the team’s only game against the Washington Redskins that season.) The team slowly grew under Aikman’s stead where Dallas finally reached the playoffs in 1991, which would coincide with the beginning of  6 consecutive ProBowl appearances. He’d earn the 1992 NFL Super Bowl MVP, and in 1997 the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.  A good manager and custodian, who learned not to turn the ball over- Aikman was probably one of the last in a line of quarterbacks who were allowed time (3 seasons or more) to grow into their job. (One could wonder about David Carr, for example, if he could’ve ever turned the corner without the bright glare of the media, fantasy football or armchair Madden experts screaming on the internet about passing mechanics even though they never played themselves.)  Troy over a 12 year career only started a full season 3 times, (which in this day and age would get you labeled as ‘injury prone’) and finished with over 20 touchdowns, (23) once in his career. He’d also never throw for over 3,500 yards. Despite his purely average 81.6 quarterback rating, Aikman was a winner, with his 90 wins being the most during the 1990s among starting quarterbacks. He also was 11-4 in the playoffs. Injuries would eventually begin to take their toll on him as he had 10 career concussions. Waived after the 2000 season, and unable to find a team, he retired after brief flirtations with the Miami Dolphins.

Aikman since football has become quite a good commentator, broadcasting for FOX and is part of the network’s premier crew. In 2005 he was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, and into the Hall of Fame in 2006. He also was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2010 also started doing commercials for Rent-A-Center.

Troy Aikman was a difficult signature to acquire at training camp. I was only able to get him once, – the first day of the second training camp, and never got him again. (The artifact lines across the card are from the plastic sleeve and are not a representation of the condition of the card.) Like Emmitt Smith,  Troy wasn’t a widespread signer and this didn’t really endear him to me, considering I went to training camp solid for 4 seasons. I guess it was hit or miss. I met kids who got 4 or 5 cards signed, and he was kind enough to sign quite a few for the handicapped, but I guess he thought I was a seller since I was there all the time. Nonetheless one does suffice, and this card was probably my favorite of his. As of late it has come to my attention that Aikman is charging now for his autograph on cards and helmets with reports going anywhere from $100-200 through the mail.

Games 165  Att  4715   Comp  2898    Pct  61.5%    Yds  32942
Td 165  Int 141   Rat 81.6

Thomas, Broderick ‘The Sandman’

Card: Action Packed Rookies 1990
Acquired: In Person, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp 1996

Playing outside linebacker for the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the late 80’s, Broderick Thomas garnered the nickname of “The Sandman” for his lights out sacking ability and received 2 time All America Honors. The Buccaneers took a shot at him, drafting him #5 in the monster 1989 draft. Based on his ability, statistics and attitude, this to me I thought was a sure fire pick, and the team quickly branded him as the ‘future’ in the NFL at linebacker. The bar was set up incredibly high and Broderick would have a hard time living up to those expectations starting no games his rookie season. He’d see continued improvement, with 7.5 sacks at LOLB in 1990 and a career high 11 sacks in 1991 at ROLB where he also contributed 174 tackles that season. (Playing in Tampa however he’d not see the ProBowl.) Thomas would also pull down 2 picks and a touchdown and 3 fumbles in 1992, but with his sack numbers on the downward slide, he’d see free agency after 1993 where he only started 8 games.

In 5 years with the Buccaneers, Thomas would finish with 26.5 sacks- which is probably about half of what was expected of him by the franchise. He’d continue the NFC Central tour, playing for both the Lions and Vikings respectively a season a piece and finish his career playing for the Dallas Cowboys in 1996 and 1997.  I’d get his autograph while he was with the Cowboys at training camp in 1996 where he alternated at linebacker and defensive end. In fairness to Thomas, his statistics while not amazing, were respectable enough to allow him to become a respectable linebacker. He’d retire in 1998, due to a freak injury when he ripped his ACL during training camp.

Tragically sacrificing himself for the sport, Thomas has suffered from a variety of arthritic related conditions, panic attacks, and depression- all from football- but has somehow managed to continue on. Nowadays, Broderick runs Broderick Sports Entertainment, fundraises for childhood diabetes and passionately follows everything Cornhusker related as an active alumni. Thomas is a prime example of why we must not forget our former gladiators and that life after football is not just a send off to retirement and riches without worry or pain.

G/Gs  144/96    Tac 643   Sac 47.5    Fum 15
Int  2    Yds 81     Td  1     Lg  56T