CARDS: Skybox 1992, GameDay 1992, Action Packed 1990, Action Packed 1991 ACQUIRED: TTM 2020, C/o Home SENT: 1/21 RECEIVED: 2/3 (13 DAYS) SEE ALSO: SAMMIE SMITH
Sammie Smith’s career was short, but was punctuated by all the high flying brands at the time. I had and still have a few more cards of his I’d love to get signed, but due to rules that I impose on myself about asking too many and too soon, I waited about 10 years to give Sammie another shot.
Sammie since his release and redemption from his time in prison, has gotten his degree, and worked for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is the Chaplain/ Director of Character Development for the Ole Miss football team and has recommitted himself to Christ. Sammie also acts as an assistant with the recruiting trips as well.
A real treat of cards here of Sammie, I was really hoping he’d be my first success for 2021. I can’t say enough about the Skybox and his Action Packed entries. His 91 Action Packed is probably one of my favorites, especially the way the light hits his helmet. Really goes to show you how sports photography is an art.
Cards: Panini Contenders 2016, Leaf Draft 2016, Panini Prism 2016 Acquired: IP 2019, SA Commanders Team Signing Dick’s Sporting Goods at The Rim
The Commanders big signing event of the season came at Dick’s Sporting Goods and with big names from the team appearing, it made total sense for me to go. Even though the event said NO OUTSIDE ITEMS, I figured I would take my chances and show up with my cards. It turned out nobody cared and I was able to go through the line 2 times to get all my cards covered. Mekale was next to Derron Smith, and they argued over which had the better cards. Mekale was sold on his Prism card, but he got trumped by Derron who had a Prism die cut card that looked like a fence. Overall it was a great event and I was happy with getting all the players’ autographs that were in attendance, as about two weeks later the league would disappear. Mekale’s autograph is very unique. I have never seen an M shaped quite like that.
Mekale was not drafted coming out of Arkansas (2012)/ Cincinnati (2013-2015), where he posted 108 receptions for 2034 yards and 19 TDs over his time between the two schools. A huge target stepping in at 6-5, McKay averaged an improbable 30.3 yards per reception in 2013 when he hauled in 16 catches for 485 yards and 7 TDs. He’d sign with the Colts after the draft in 2016, but be cut after training camp. Mekale then bounced around between the Jaguars, Broncos, Titans, Bears, and Cowboys over the next two years.
In 2019 McKay signed with the San Antonio Commanders of the now defunct Alliance of American Football. He’d post 22 receptions for 375 yards and 4 TDs including 1 2 point conversion. Mekale’s 17 yards a reception also was among the league leaders in that category. After the league ‘suspended operations’, Mekale drew interest from the Buffalo Bills and attended minicamp with the Browns.
Mekale was then selected by the New York Guardians of the XFL 2020, during the second round of the initial phase of the player draft. Over the course of the season he caught 12 passes for 184 yards and a TD, before the COVID pandemic cancelled the season. Two months later, McKay signed with the Blue Bombers of the CFL, but roughly a month later the league suspended play due to COVID as well.
Dré Bly was a second round pick of the then St. Louis Rams in 1999 out of North Carolina. A speedy cornerback, Dré finished his Freshman season at the school in 1996 with an unheard of 11 interceptions, and then later set the conference record for career interceptions with 20. He spent the next 4 seasons with the team, appearing in 2 Superbowls. Bly had his best season arguably in 2001 when he recorded 29 total tackles, 1 forced fumble, 9 pass deflections, and 6 interceptions for 150 yards and 2 TDs (including a 93 yarder).
In 2003, Dré signed with the Detroit Lions, anchoring down their secondary for the next 4 seasons. He immediately paid dividends for the Lions, posting 6 more interceptions for 89 yards and a TD, along with 15 pass deflections, 5 forced fumbles, and 55 total tackles. Later in 2005, Bly again picked off 6 passes, forced 3 fumbles, and recorded 15 pass deflections.
Bly was traded to the Denver Broncos in 2007 for a 5th round pick and two players. True to form, Dré again led his newfound team in interceptions, adding another 5 to his career numbers. He’d be released in early 2009, and join the 49ers a few months later. After a season in SF, when Bly posted 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles, he returned home to the Lions in 2010 where he retired.
Dré apparently had been wanting to go into coaching. He was offered his first professional gig by the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football in 2019, but apparently seeing the tea leaves early on or seizing an opportunity to return home, opted to coach defensive backs at his alma mater North Carolina.
It won’t surprise me if eventually Dré gets his due and is inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his gaudy numbers. While his skills did translate to the pro level, with some impressive numbers for a corner (20 forced fumbles, 149 pass deflections), people still look at the overrated interception number to determine HOF eligibility IMHO- and with a backlog at the position of players who haven’t even been considered that have 50 interceptions, I doubt Bly will truly get his fair due.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.