Tag Archives: detroit lions

Westbrook, Bryant

Cards:  University of Texas Upper Deck 2011, UT UD 2011 All-Time Alumni, Press Pass 1997
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Work
Sent:  11/14  Received: 11/26  (12 days)

A feared and hard hitting cornerback with sizzling speed who played at the University of Texas from 1993-1996, Bryant Westbrook is one of the more lauded members of DBU. He earned SWC Honors second-team All-American his senior year, in addition to first-team selections in both the last year of the Southwest Conference, and the first year of the Big 12. He finished his career at UT with 9 interceptions, 30 passed defensed, 6 forced fumbles, 183 tackles, and 2 blocked kicks.

With the hype train in full swing Westbrook’s draft stock spiked up the charts. He was selected with the 6th pick overall by the Detroit Lions in the 1997 NFL Draft, as the second DB off the board.

Bryant had a pretty solid rookie year. He deflected 20 passes- as QBs tested him early and often in his career. Nonetheless he intercepted his first pass from Dan Marino and returned it 62 yards for a TD that year. Bryant landed on the All-Rookie Team at the conclusion of the season.
During 1998, he posted another 19 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, and an 34 yard pick six of Trent Dilfer (TB).  Westbrook suffered a bumpy 1999 as the nicks and tears piled up. He’d be shelved after 8 contests.

Westbrook returned with a vengeance, as he posted his best season as a pro in 2000. Named as a Pro Bowl alternate, he started 13 games and recorded 6 interceptions for 126 yards including a door-blowing 101 yard pick off and score courtesy of Drew Bledsoe of the Patriots.
Disappointingly he’d miss the last 3 games of the season due to a ruptured Achillies.

It was tough for Bryant, because the next season was a contract year, so he had to get back to the game.  He managed to play in 9 contests in 2001 and recorded an interception, but due to his injury, it was obvious that he had lost a step.

Bryant signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 2002.  He’d start the opening contest against the Houston Texans, but the Texans had studied the film and knew that Bryant was a liability. He’d be picked on consistently when he was in the lineup in the Texans’ upset 19-10 victory.  The Cowboys quickly cut him and Westbrook joined the Green Bay Packers and made a pick before the end of the season.  The team hoped to convert him to safety in 2003, but he ruptured his other Achillies- effectively bringing his career to an end.

No regrets for Westbrook however, as he’s giving back to the game by coaching (as of 2017) High School football in Arizona. He signed these 4 cards in no time flat for me.

Come on Upper Deck. You could of done better. The 2011 base card is terrible. Rule number one of something you are going to create in a graphics program for production- never ever noticeably stretch an image. I mean the top of Bryant’s helmet makes him look like he’s got a modified Gazoo on. His All-Time Alumni and NCAA All American cards are the same picture. Really? I looked no further than the Press Pass 97 below it to find a differing action shot of Westbrook. The Press Pass card is a bit kitsch, but I do like the die cut action on it.  In the end I liked Westbrook’s larger than life autograph on his Upper Deck All Time Alumni card the best.

G/GS  71/55      TAC  197      SAC 0      FUM 1
INT  13       YDS 239       AVG 18.3      TD 3       LG 101T

Holland, Johnny ‘Mr. Everywhere’

Cards: ProSet 1990, Topps 1990, Action Packed 1990, Topps Stadium Club 1992
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o The Cleveland Browns
Sent:  11/28/16   Received:  1/6/17     (39 days)

Johnny Holland was one of the galvanizing forces behind the ‘Wrecking Crew’ of the Texas A&M defense during the dying days of the Southwest Conference of the mid to late 80s.  At the time of his graduation from A&M he was the school’s all-time leading tackler and garnered Johnny the nickname ‘Mr. Everywhere’.

In 1987, the Green Bay Packers selected Johnny with their second round pick of the draft.  The ’87 draft has an impressive pedigree of linebacker talent that included: Cornelius Bennett, Shane Conlan, Brian Bosworth (SUP), Dave Wyman, Winston Moss, Michael Brooks, Scott Stephen, Byron Evans, Hardy Nickerson, Al Smith, Dennis Gibson, Greg Lloyd, and Jessie Tuggle (UDFA). Johnny fit right in, and the Packers were glad to have him, as he’d earn team rookie of the year honors from the franchise.  Johnny was a smart, instinctual, consistent, and reliable force for the Packers over the next 6 seasons- prized traits for linebackers. Although not flashy, Holland could be counted on by the Pack to post 100+ tackle seasons with regularity. During the 1992 season he herniated a disc in his neck. He rehabbed from the injury and returned to form in 1993 recording a career high 145 tackles, but learned that he had blown a disc in his back during the season. Johnny opted to retire.

He jumped almost right into coaching from there in 1995, first with the Packers until 1999. Holland served in a variety of capacities from Special Teams to Linebackers to quality control.  He then spent the next 3 seasons with the Seahawks as an assistant conditioning coach, special teams, and linebackers coach. From 2003 to 2005 Johnny was an assistant defensive coach and Linebackers coach with the Lions before his longest stint with the Houston Texans (2006-2010) as their linebackers coach.  He’d coach for the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL in 2011, and then after serving 1 season as the LB coach of the Oakland Raiders (2012), Johnny took a dip in the pool of the CFL with the British Columbia Lions LB corps (2014-2015).  He coached the ILB crew of the Browns for 2016, and as of 2017 is with the 49ers in a similar capacity.

Beloved by the Packers’ faithful, Johnny was inducted into the franchise’s Hall of Fame in 2001.  He also has been honored by both Texas A&M (1993) and the Cotton Bowl (2000) for his contributions to the sport.

Johnny is a very good signer through the mail. He signed these 4 cards for me via the Browns back in 2016. Johnny’s Proset 1990 card is a beast and his Stadium Club entry does not disappoint either.  The other two entries are kinda bad. Action Packed gives an entry of him from behind. That’s not what  you want to see, however I selected it because I got so many duplicates of this card when I used to get them at the 7-11 I might as well get it signed too. Topps 1990 suffered from a lot of bad things. Bad design and lazy photography riddled the set. Still it was a foundation of my set collecting of my childhood and sometimes the portrait photos of the players just stick with me, like this one of Johnny.

G/GS  103/100    TAC 777     SAC  3.5      FUM  15
INT  9     YDS  130      AVG  14.4      TD  0      LG  32

Sims, Billy ‘Kung Fu’ (2)

to81 sims apCard: Topps 1981
Acquired: 2015, Future Considerations
See Also: Billy Sims

Lance picked up this Billy Sims card for me in exchange for all the autographs I randomly drop him. He also gave me an autographed Sports Illustrated with Keshawn Johnson on it as well. The autograph is actually certified on the back with a hologram- for what it is worth. Not much to say about this card. It’s Topps, so it’s a lazy photo. The design itself is not all that exciting, but I guess it was for that era.

It wasn’t all roses for a while with Billy. He really wanted to make a comeback in 1988, but the Lions only expressed a cursory interest. He’s fought back from the brink of financial disaster, even selling his Heisman. Despite that, Billy’s BBQ branded chain continues to fare well. He has quite a few locations in Oklahoma and opened stops in Michigan as well. In 2007 the University of Oklahoma erected a statue in his name as well, and he remains a celebrated hometown hero of Hooks, Tx where they have named a road after him.