Tag Archives: dallas renegades

Nelson, Philip

Card: Topps XFL 2020
Acquired: 2020, Box Breaker
TTM 2020, C/o Home
Sent: 7/28 Received: 8/13 (16 days)

Philip Nelson split his time in college with Minnesota (2012-2013) and East Carolina (2015-2016). His best year was in his Senior year with the Pirates during 2016. Philip threw for 2621 yards and 16 TDs (8 interceptions) completing 237 of 349 throws, for an impressive 67.9 completion percentage. Philip wasn’t selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, but later attended camp with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL.

Philip was selected in the 3rd round of the Pick or Protect AAF Draft in 2019 by the San Diego Fleet. He’d quickly move up the depth chart behind Mike Bercovici after #1 overall pick Josh Johnson signed with the NFL. Philip was pressed into duty late in the Fleet’s inaugural game against the San Antonio Commanders. He’d then be named starter for Week 2, and lead San Diego to wins in Week 2 (Atlanta) and Week 3 (San Antonio) but during week 4 against the Memphis Express, Philip suffered a season ending shoulder injury. It was a shame as the Fleet had found their groove under Nelson and the offense was really clicking. He’d finish the season completing 45 of 77 passes for 513 yards and 3 TDs to 3 interceptions, while rushing for 82 yards on 16 carries.

The following year Nelson was selected by the Dallas Renegades of the XFL 2020. He’d see action right out of the gate with starter Landry Jones sidelined for the opener. Then after Jones was injured during Week 4 contest against the Roughnecks, Philip came in again- almost rallying the Renegades to victory over the Houston. He’d start the following week against the New York Guardians before COVID ended the XFL season after 5 games. Nelson completed 62 passes for 439 yards and 3 picks, while rushing for 25 yards on 6 carries on the year.

Philip sent me a nice note with his response thanking me for being a fan. He was pumped that The Rock had bought the league, and dropped in two copies of his Topps certified autographs for me to keep!

Johnston, Daryl ‘Moose’ (4)

Cards: Topps AAF Certified Player Issue 2011, Upper Deck College Legends 2011 Bowl Game Heroes
Acquired: TTM 2020, C/o Home
Sent: 4/22/20 Received: 4/29/20 (7 days)
See Also: Daryl Johnston, Daryl Johnston (2), Daryl Johnston (3)

I really hustled hard for Daryl Johnston this time around. I had seen on a few sites that he was giving away his player issue version of his certified Topps AAF 2019 card- that I did not have, and along with the fact that he was GM of the Commanders, and it was super expensive on the secondary market, I really wanted to get my paws on that card. I wrote a solid 9 page letter talking about how our lives had intertwined over the last- 30 ish years or so. It was the longest letter I’d ever written to a player.

Daryl has been very good to the TTM community, and as a whole has been a gracious signer outside of those rare instances. Instead of flooding him with cards, I just sent this one Upper Deck College Legends card and asked him for the certified one, since I was a season ticket holder to the Commanders. I was very happy when he responded in no time flat and added the tag #Swords Up! giving the Commanders card a bit of personalization. It gave me a nice bounce in my step for the day.

I had high hopes that he’d pen an inspired response to me about his AAF experience, but the stories that I had read led me to believe that he was caught just as flat footed as the rest of us, even though he was fighting in the trenches everyday for the league. After his AAF experience, Daryl went on to join the XFL 2020 Dallas Renegades, and despite the boasted money behind it, the league folded only after 5 games due to COVID concerns.

Smith, Derron

Card: Topps AAF Now 2019, Panini Prism 2015, Crown Royale 2015, Sage 2015, Score 2015, Topps XFL 2019,
Acquired: IP 2019, SA Commanders Team Signing Dick’s Sporting Goods at The Rim.
Ebay, 2020
TTM 2020, C/o Home
Sent: 7/13 Received: 7/24 (11 days)
Failure: TTM 2019, C/o The Minnesota Vikings

An all-star at Fresno State, Derron was named first team All WAC three times while playing for the Bulldogs. He pulled down 7 interceptions and 4 sacks in 2013, and 7 pass breakups and 80 tackles in 2014. Derron’s 15 career interceptions tied him for 5th on the school charts. A perfect storm emerged however with a hernia injury, (that caused Derron to miss the Senior Bowl and the combine,) and a bad pro day, which caused his draft day stock to drop. Scouts however, loved his ability to keep his eyes focused on the ball and the action in front of him, as well as his man cover skills.

Derron was selected in the 6th round in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He’d spend the next two seasons there, eventually landing on their practice squad in 2017, where he was signed off the Bengals by the Cleveland Browns. Over that period he got some game time experience posting 16 total tackles, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection. Cut by the Browns in 2018, Derron kept in football shape, prepping for his next shot.

In late 2018, Derron got his next shot- An invitation to play for the new Alliance of American Football. He’d be traded by the Fleet to the San Antonio Commanders in December for Damontre Moore. The Commanders were already steeped in defensive secondary talent, and looking to add depth at safety alongside guys like Orion Stewart and Kurtis Drummond. Derron would also be coached in the secondary by longtime NFL veteran and ballhawk Bill Bradley.

“He’s quiet in the DB room, but he’s the one guy that the guys look to. He’s kind of the calming factor in a very raucous bunch of defensive backs on our team.”

– Commanders GM Daryl Johnston

Derron made a lot of noise near the end of camp, and actually didn’t even start until Week 3 of the 2019 AAF season against the Iron. From there on however, he was lights out.

Derron in Week 4 earned AAF Defensive Player of the Week Honors, when he single-handedly demolished the Arizona Hotshots. He’d pick off a John Wolford pass and race 66 yards the other direction for a TD to open up the scoring. Then later in the game, he’d pick off Wolford again as the Hotshots tried to claw their way back into the contest. The following week against the Legends, he stepped in front of an errant Aaron Murray pass late in the game, and took that pass 87 yards to paydirt.

On the season Derron finished with 22 solo stops, 11 combined tackles, 8 pass deflections, and 3 interceptions for 153 yards and 2 TDs. Although the league ceased operations after 8 contests, Smith was posthumously named the AAF Defensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus for his outstanding play.

“On 309 snaps in coverage, Smith led the league at any position on defense with his 93.2 coverage grade as he intercepted three passes and broke up another five. He stuck his head in on 37 total tackles and missed just three while his eight defensive stops were a top-10 figure among safeties. His prowess in the secondary for the Commanders make him a legitimate candidate to potentially land a spot in the NFL this next season.”

-Pro Football Focus (on naming Smith the AAF Defender of the Year)

Derron was snatched up by the XFL later that year, after spending training camp with the Minnesota Vikings. He’d be the first defender taken off the board by his former GM Daryl Johnston, who was now working with the Dallas Renegades.

In 5 games with Dallas, Derron had 15 tackles, and an interception before the XFL 2020 folded due to COVID concerns.

I had a giant stack of cards of Derron I wanted to get signed and with his amazing game against the Hotshots and Legends, he zoomed near the top of my favorite Commanders defensive players. I got most of these autographs in person at an event at The Rim, before Week 7. Annoyingly the Topps AAF Now card arrived the next week in the mail so I had the stress of firing out this $10.00 card out into the wind and hoping it came back.

So you’re probably wondering, “How’d you track down Derron?” Easy. I cross referenced his bio to Twitter and found where he was at attached to his profile. From there I used Advanced Background Checks- and he popped right up.

Derron replied in about 10 days, signing both his XFL and AAF Now cards and wrote me a nice note, thanking me for being a fan. I was pumped.