Card: ProSet 1989 Acquired: IP 2020, Houston Roughnecks/ Tampa Bay Vipers Joint Practice
After graduating from Drake University, Dennis McKnight signed with the Cleveland Browns in 1981, but didn’t make the squad. The following year, he signed with the Chargers. A gem in the rough, McKnight possessed versatility that allowed him to see action at every position on the offensive line (except at left tackle) over his time in San Diego. A gym rat, Dennis also was the team’s long snapper, and was a Pro Bowl alternate in 1988. He joined the Lions and played for them in 1990 and 1992, with a short stint in Philadephia in between during ’91. Over his football career he played in 141 contests, starting 100.
Dennis enjoys the sport so much that he went into coaching in 1999. As a positional coach he’s seen stops in college at Hawaii, Grossmont CC, San Diego State, SMU, and Lamar University. McKnight has also coached in the CFL for the Esks, and Ti-Cats. In 2020 he joined June Jones’ coaching staff for the Houston Roughnecks as Offensive Assistant/ Special Teams coach.
I completely missed Dennis on my inventory of Roughnecks players and coaches. Thankfully Lance was going with me to the joint practice, and brought an extra card for me. Dennis still posesses a strong and powerful build. When he speaks, its excited and loud, like a professional wrestler.
We watched him work with the kids after practice. I was very impressed by how he was handling them, and at one point exclaimed, “The whole point of this is to have fun!” As he was exiting, we stopped him and asked him for his autograph, where we talked about the current state of things. He thanked us for coming and how much it meant to the players. We also talked briefly about how the NFL is out of touch with fans and that they are missing out on the game of football.
Earl Okine is a giant of a physical specimen clocking in at 6’8″, 290. He played defensive end and tackle for the Florida Gators from 2009-2012. Over that period he managed 27 tackles and a sack. He’d go undrafted in 2013- later signing with the Houston Texans, and then briefly joining the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. In 2014, Earl played for the Orlando Predators of the Arena leagues, where I saw him play against the San Antonio Talons that year. He notched 28 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 pass blocks, and a forced fumble. Later he hopped over to the FXFL to join the Brooklyn Bolts.
Earl finally found a home in the NFL with the Colts in 2015, spending nearly the entire season on and off the Colts regular season roster and practice squad. He then spent the next year on the Kansas City Chiefs on the bubble of the roster as well at OLB. After a short stay on the Lions, he’d spend the entire 2017 season on the practice squad of the Cardinals.
He’d join the Alliance of American Football in 2018- signing with the Orlando Apollos. The Apollos decided to put Earl’s strengths to best use at outside linebacker. Earl started 7 games for the 7-1 Apollos. He finished with 26 tackles, 5 sacks, and a critical tipped ball interception that he made to seal the win against the Memphis Express in Week 8.
Card: Fleer 1990, Action Packed 1991, GameDay 1992 Acquired: TTM 2020, C/o Home Sent: 3/17 Received: 4/5 (18 days) See Also: Andre Ware, Air Ware
Andre sure got in a lot of great cards in his short amount of time on the starting stage in the NFL. Even after this third stab at a few more autographs, there are a few more cards I could probably nab him on.
I loved Action Packed and GameDay’s sets. Action Packed 1991 was a pretty well designed set, with that simple swoosh that goes through the left side of the image- it maximized the canvas area to focus on the player image. I also really liked the flat helmet image at the end. It’s a really underrated set, and despite the slight smudging is great to get autographed. Most of the images are indeed- action packed. This Gameday image is really nice, however one of the set’s design flaws comes forward a bit when the silver blends against the gray, the image looks a bit more flat. The Fleer 90 card was one of 4 (technically) that had a college photo of Andre in it. (The others being Topps, ProSet, and Score.) We always laughed at the fact that Fleer didn’t find a shot of Andre actually throwing the ball- but instead chose to get a shot of him pitching the ball out. All of these cards were distant set needs for me in my never ending autograph quest.
About the time that Coronavirus broke loose and some stay at home notices were put into place, Andre started signing his TTM mail after a 5-6 year absence from the game. He was initially playing catchup and then started signing some newer requests. I always liked Andre, and I hadn’t TTMed him since 2012, I decided he was ripe for the picking.
As of 2020, Ware remains the steady voice as the color commentator for the Houston Texans game day radio show.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.