Tag Archives: detroit lions

Williams, Roy (2) ‘Legend’

sco10 rwilliamsCards: Playoff Contenders Rookie Round-Up 2004, Bowman 2005 Fabric of the Future, Score 2010
Acquired: 2014, MVP Vodka Bottle Signing
See Also: Roy Williams

Well, three is better than none I guess. Roy seemed the least enthusiastic member of the MVP autograph group to sign anything. He wanted to make doubly sure that any fan who got an autograph had purchased a bottle or two first- which is fine and all. I told Roy about how I had missed out on him at the GMC event a few years ago and was really disappointed because I did like 10 test drives just to get the tickets to get all the autographs I needed. It really didn’t sway Williams as he just signed these 3 cards, leaving me awkwardly with another 5 still to be signed at a later date.

bow04 rwilliamsThe Playoff Contenders card is an amazing limited run transparent gimmick card, that absorbed the ink quite well.  Bowman had a habit of trying hard but missing the mark, but this Fabric of the Future card is as close as you can get to being exciting. I was already fond of the Score 2010 design, so that was a no brainer. With luck I should be able to corral Roy at another signing.

poff04 rwilliamsSince retirement Roy has kept himself busy with his business dealings- primarily the MVP Vodka brand that he and fellow Longhorn BJ Johnson have been tirelessly promoting. I’m not too much of a vodka fan, but of the brands that are out there I enjoyed it the most.

LeBeau, Dick

Cards: TNT Signature Select, Topps 1971
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o The Tennessee Titans
Sent: 1/19/17  Received: 1/27/17   (8 days)

To say that Dick LeBeau has a decorated football history would be an understatement. After playing both halfback and defensive back in college, LeBeau was moved to cornerback fulltime when he entered the NFL. Selected by the Cleveland Browns in 1959, LeBeau did not make the squad and was quickly snatched up by the Detroit Lions. The rest is history. The Lions already had an outstanding secondary. LeBeau was icing on the cake. He arguably became one of the best players in Detroit history (at least defensively) recording 62 interceptions for 762 yards and 3 TDs.  He earned 3 ProBowl trips from 1964-1966 and AP in 1964, 1965, and 1970.

Retiring from play after the 72 season, LeBeau immediately jumped into coaching, working as a special teams coach for the Eagles from 1973-1975.  From there he honed his skills as a positional coach with the defensive backs for the Packers (1976-1979) and Bengals (1980-1983). Dick was promoted to defensive coordinator for Cincinnati in 1984- a position he held until 1991.  In 1992 he joined the Steelers as a defensive backs coach, and in 1995 was elevated to defensive coordinator.  LeBeau returned to the Bengals in 1997 and was head coach for the franchise from 2000-2002.  After a brief stay on the Bills in 2003 LeBeau returned to the Steelers as their defensive coordinator from 2004-2014, and then off to the Tennessee Titans as their coordinator where he coaches to this day (2017).  LeBeau was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Pride of the Lions in 2010.

Dick LeBeau is one of the most reliable high profile TTM signers in the hobby today. I think I had taken it for granted for a long time, but I finally decided to take a shot at him in 2017. Part of the reason for my delay was the lack of decent cards of him. Frankly most of the cards that were on the market were quite bad looking, or were just plain expensive. LeBeau’s turnaround was quite quick signing this old beat up Topps card and my custom in about a week flat.

G/GS  N/a    Tac N/a         Sac N/a          Fum N/a
Int   62       Yds   762          Avg  12.2      TD  3     Lg   70t

Kramer, Erik ‘Brass’

Cards: ProSet 1991, GameDay 1993, Action Packed 1992
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o Home
Sent: 3/20      Received: 4/17     (28 days)
Failure: TTM 2011, C/o Home

I’m not sure where to start with Erik Kramer. I tried him back in 2011- shy a few months before his son tragically died of a drug overdose. Things spiraled out of control so much that Kramer in 2015 attempted to take his own life with a gun. Somehow he managed to survive and over the past two years has been rising from the ashes of his own personal pain.

Kramer went to college at NC State. He was the team’s starting quarterback in 1985 and 1986.  Posting solid numbers as starter, over his time with the Wolfpack, he threw for 4,602 yards, 30 TDs/ 28 INT, on 334 completions and 616 attempts. Kramer also posted an 11-11-1 record as a starter and earned ACC Player of the Year honors as a Senior.  He went undrafted in 1987 and initially signed with the New Orleans Saints, but was subsequently released. Quickly he was signed by the Atlanta Falcons as a replacement player during the 1987 strike.

Erik joined the Calgary Stampeders in 1988.  Playing in 5 contests he threw for 5 TDs and 964 yards. The next season he’d blow out his knee and not see a snap under center. Afterwards he was released by the Stampeders. Erik’s story could’ve very easily ended there, but he chose to give it another shot in the NFL, signing with the Detroit Lions after getting spotted during a tryout by offensive coordinator Mouse Davis.  Kramer’s string of bad luck continued, as he suffered a season ending shoulder injury during the 1990 preseason.

The Lions had a classic quarterback rivalry going on between Andre Ware and Rodney Peete going into 1991. Erik Kramer was an afterthought on the squad.  This worked to his advantage as he was a consummate professional in preparation for each and every game. He supplanted Ware and then bode his time until Peete was injured. Kramer picked up and after a rough start or two, he led the Lions on a 6 game winning streak to conclude the season. The Lions made the playoffs, and Erik set team playoff records with 29-of-38 passes for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Lions ambushed the Dallas Cowboys. It’d be the Lions first playoff victory since 1957.

It would be safe to assume that after the season Kramer would’ve been chosen to be the hands down starter for the Lions, right? Well this is the Lions and that didn’t happen. Instead 1992 opened again with another open quarterback competition- this time lasting into the regular season. While it finally took Kramer being named starter and then rallying Detroit to a 3-1 record down the stretch to win the division title, the Lions lost a home wild card game to Brett Favre and the Pack 28-24. Detroit had another bumpy season in 1993 and while Kramer went 3-1 as a starter, the Lions ran out and signed Scott Mitchell, effectively ending their quarterback carousel in 1994.   Erik in the meantime took a flyer with the division rival Chicago Bears.  While his first season there was met with mixed results due to a separated shoulder, there is no question that he had an impact season in 1995 setting personal highs and franchise records going 315 of 522 for 3,838 yards with 29 TDs to only 10 interceptions. Kramer hung around with the Bears another 3 injury plagued seasons before abruptly retiring midway through the 1999 season with the Chargers due to a persistent neck injury.

Kramer was the definition of the ‘walking wounded’ during his playing career in the league. He gave up his body to injury leading Detroit and Chicago back to periods of respectability. Concussions may have also contributed to his severe depression as well.

It is said that the bullet traveled through Erik’s chin, tongue, nose, and out the top of his head. Amazingly, the damage was so clean, and the medical attention paid to him was so quick, he survived.  Much like his playing career- Kramer quickly has moved to rise from controversy and loss, making an impressive recovery- and coming to an understanding that life is worth living for.

Pro Set struck gold in Erik’s initial release in their 91 update set with a nice straight on shot of him. This was Proset at their best: minimal design, dynamic action photography, and an unobtrusive logo. I was a big fan of Action Packed- but their 92 set annoyed me by flipping profile information on the back. The player name type was also just a tad too small. Gameday barely tweaked an overall successful design over the entire lifetime of the brand. I liked this 1993 issue of Kramer in the elements.

G/Gs 83/67        Att 2299      Cpd 1317       Yds  15337       Pct 57.3
TD 92    Int 79      Lg 85t
Rush  153       Yds 217      Avg 1.4      Td 5     lg 31