Adam’s autograph opens up around the top 10 worst autographs I’ve gotten over the years. The additional problem is that this is not a very exciting looking card. He’s just standing there in front of empty bleachers. If initials can look rushed, to a point of not caring, this is pretty close to it.
A four year starter at Pitt from 2014-2017, Adam Bisnowaty played left tackle for the Panthers. A fine specimen at 6’6″, 304, he was considered one of the top 20 or so tackles entering the 2017 selection class, but his status in the draft was punched down, due to injuries, even with a pretty good combine showing.
The Giants needing lots of line help traded up with the Titans during the 6th round, giving Tennessee a 6th and 7th round pick to select Adam. He’d be cut at the end of camp after losing out in a battle for the backup job with Chad Wheeler, and then be resigned to the practice squad. Following were a successive list of waiver claims by interested teams taking a stab at Bisnowaty: First Detroit and then Carolina both took a look at him for about a month in mid-2018. Then in October of that year the Vikings picked him up, who held onto him until the following year. He’d sign with the Redskins in 2019 and then later the Broncos before Adam was selected by the Dallas Renegades of the XFL 2020- but did not make the squad.
Cards: Topps AAF Certified 2019, Topps AAF 2019, Topps AAF Now 2019, Topps AAF 2019 Red Parallel (58/99) Acquired: EBay, 2020. In Person 2019, San Antonio Commanders v Arizona Hotshots TTM 2020, C/o Home Sent: 8/31 Received: 9/8 (8 days)
After the Arizona Hotshots defeated the Commanders in that final game of the AAF, many of the Hotshots stayed behind to talk to family and sign a few autographs behind the visitors side of the field. Arena staff was eager to shepherd fans out of the stadium, but I managed to haul in quite a few Hotshots including Justin. At the time, I was still one of the few fans who had their actual trading cards, and Justin hadn’t seen his base AAF card yet. He thought it was pretty awesome.
Anticipating that players might not have their cards yet, I went ahead and gave Justin the extra copy of the card I had on me that evening. Justin’s certified card is one of the few that also features an action shot him from the preseason, and he also signed the card with a thin, black ink pen, as opposed to the standard blue medium tip.
Justin played from 2014-2017 for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Over 4 years he averaged a heathy 5.8 yards per carry, and finished with 1714 yards and 14 TDs on 294 carries. He also displayed a knack for catching the ball, recording 82 receptions for 872 yards and 10 TDs.
He would be allocated to the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football after going undrafted in the 2018 NFL draft. Stockton was part of a 3 headed monster rotation alongside Tim Cook and Jhurrell Pressley. Despite this- Stockton managed to finish 11th in the league rushing for the Hotshots top flight rushing attack, with 43 carries for 233 yards and a 45 yard TD. His 45 yard TD came at an opportune time as it sparked the Hotshots to a victory over the Memphis Express earlier in the season.
After camp with the Lions, Stockton joined the XFL 2020 as a member of the New York Guardians along with former teammate Tim Cook. Justin made it count oddly, mostly, in the last game of the season against Dallas, rushing 5 times for 41 yards, had a catch for 8 yards for two points, and blew by the Renegades return unit for a 58 yard kick return. With COVID already hitting the league, the XFL shut down after week 5.
Oddly Stockton was not included in the XFL set, however, I finally got a copy of his Topps NOW card. I have been chatting with his RB coach for a while, and after helping him out with some design work, he hooked me up with the Hotshots RB corps addresses so I could get them on a few cards. Justin not only signed his Topps Now card, but I also had a red parallel he signed as well, and included a nice note- that almost felt like he was punching up, cleverly telling me, “That he always likes to run hard in San Antonio!”
Connor Cook was a 3 year starter for the Michigan State Spartans. He played college ball there from from 2011 to 2015, and saw action in 43 games, passing for 9,184 yards and 71 TDs to 22 interceptions. Cook was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Raiders saw value selecting him and decided to groom Cook behind incumbent quarterback Derek Carr.
He was pressed into his first starting duty- a grinder of a game against the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2016 Playoffs. The Raiders fell 27-14, as Cook threw for 161 yards and a TD to 3 interceptions. Connor saw no action in 2017 and was cut in 2018 after the Raiders traded for AJ McCarron.
Connor spent the next year on and off the rosters of the Panthers, Bengals and Lions. He was selected in the first round of the XFL 2020 Draft by the Houston Roughnecks. I sort of questioned the move considering the Roughnecks already had Philip Walker allocated to the team, but coach June Jones insisted that he was picking the best player available with NFL experience.
I pulled every card I had of Connor and added 2 or 3 more hoping to get Connor’s autograph during the season. Luck was on my side as the Roughnecks frequently put together fan events.
The Roughnecks put together an event in the Woodlands where they had Connor Cook and Sammie Coates at. It was a no brainer. I was going to call it a success if I could get 2 or 3 cards signed- but in the end I was able to get all 5 knocked out along with a stack of cards of Sammie as well.
The event itself went well. The players were friendly and approachable. Connor talked to me one on one for a few minutes. We talked about briefly about the AAF and how it failed before he had to go up on stage. There Connor really shined, with a quick wit and clever smile. Afterwards both he and Sammie signed more autographs for fans. I was able to get them both on posters before I headed back out.
Of this group, the Panini Contenders cards really stood out. I love the Gameday cards. I wasn’t really fond of either of the Leaf entries, but the Score Scorecard makes up for the Leaf cards trite design.
Well the quarterback competition between Cook and Walker apparently went down to the wire. In the end PJ was named starting quarterback of the Roughnecks. I really had hoped to see more of Connor, but PJ played lights out the entire way. Still I think Connor has the prospects of being one of the brighter stars in a spring league if he decides to try that route again.
I got a few more cards of his after being caught flat footed at the Roughnecks season ticket holder event, but the cards, ordered 2 weeks before the league shut down- didn’t arrive until after 2 months after the league shut down. Still that gave me a chance to add his Topps XFL 2020 card to the batch, which really pushed him up on my list of players I wanted to get an autograph from thru. I really liked how the Elite cards were designed in 2016 as well. The abstract design is actually really smart as the lines all cross artistic points of emphasis. It’s a beautiful card, but like many the distribution kills my interest in making this one a set to collect. I’m not very hot on the gaudy Prism set, but I liked the die cut helmet one enough as it is eye catching.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.