Tag Archives: green bay packers

Degrate, Tony ‘The Great’

Card: University of Texas Upper Deck 2011
Acquired: EBay, 2020

Tony Degrate was a monster at defensive tackle, for the Texas Longhorns from 1982 to 1984- and is considered one of the finest D-linemen to play at the school. In his 1984 campaign, he amassed a then school defensive lineman record 123 stops and 12 sacks to clench the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman. All together, Tony had 47 career tackles for loss and 31 sacks.

The Tampa Bay Bandits made an offer to Degrate, which he turned down, but this ruffled the feathers of the concerned NFL who thought he had all but flown the coop. In the end, Tony was selected in the 5th round of the draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. After spending a season with the team, he saw time in camp with the Packers, and later the Bucs.

Tony’s story is a cautionary one, and I relate to him immensely. Degrate is a great talent who let those little nagging voices in his head get to him, and his confidence just kept slipping, and it affected him physically and mentally. Self doubt and guilt are terrible burdens to bear.

I can understand why he is a difficult autograph to get in any capacity, as he probably feels that he let a lot of people- and himself down. He went back to school and finished his art degree, but at one point I believe that he was a personal trainer in the Austin area.

Degrate’s first card came out in 2011 as part of the Upper Deck Texas set. There are 3 cards in the set of him, and he is very difficult to get an autograph from. He doesn’t sign TTM and when I attended an event at the UT Coop he was scheduled to be at, he cancelled at the last moment. I really liked this card of him leaping up and making a play, and I was more than happy to pick up this card via EBay at a reasonable price.

I hope Tony is doing well.

Clark, Bruce

Cards: Topps 1985, ProSet World League 1991, Wild Card WL 1992
Acquired: TTM 2020, 2021 C/o Home
Sent: 9/9 Received: 9/25 (16 days)
Failure: TTM 2012, C/o Home

Bruce Clark was a consensus All-American defensive end for the Penn State Nittany Lions posting 19 sacks over his college career, winning the first Lombardi Award as a Junior in 1978. Originally a linebacker who converted to defensive tackle, Bruce was not only still extremely quick after packing on the extra bulk, he was incredibly strong.

He was selected in the first round (4th overall) of the 1980 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, but opted in a shocker to play in Canada instead with the Toronto Argonauts. You see, Bruce was fine playing DT or DE, but with the Packers switching to a 3-4 alignment, they had this idea that at 6’2″, 260, Clark was going to play nose. He didn’t want that, and he didn’t like how the Pack was being run from an organizational standpoint.

After two stellar seasons in the CFL, Bruce decided to play in the NFL. Reiterating his desire to play somewhere else than the ‘Siberia’ of the NFL or nose tackle, the Packers traded Bruce to the Saints for their #1 pick in the 1983 draft.


Much maligned for his surgically repaired knee coming out of Penn State, Bruce started 88 consecutive games for the Saints and was an anchor for the Saints defense at left defensive end. His best season came in 1984 when he earned his only pro bowl appearance, racking up 10.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and his only career interception. He’d join the Chiefs in 1989 for his final season, dressing for 11 contests.

Bruce opted to play in the World League of American Football in 1991 and declared for the league’s supplemental pool of eligible players and was selected in the first round by the Barcelona Dragons. As one of the oldest players in the WLAF, Bruce’s leadership and experience was appreciated by the Dragons’ defense, as he paced their solid team with 7 sacks. He opted to retire after the 1991 season.

Bruce has been on my long short list for a while, and his name popped up recently, so I was ecstatic to shoot something out to him. He signed these two cards quickly, but I had to try him again, since the sharpie quality is poor, his autograph look like it smudged slightly, and he switched out my Wild Card WL 92 for a Topps 85. Early in 2021, I decided to try again, and he graciously signed the Wild Card WL I still needed for the set.

CFL G/GsTACSACFUM
N/aN/a5
INTYDSAVGTDLG
100.000
NFL G/GsTACSACFUM
113/88N/a39.59
INTYDSAVGTDLG
199.009
WLAF G/GsTACSACFUM
10/10347.01

Whelihan, Tom

Card: Ultimate 1992 World League
Acquired: TTM 2020, C/o Home
Sent: 9/11 Received: 9/22 (11 days)

Tom Whelihan played kicker and punter in college at Missou. While there he set numerous school records including the longest field goal in school history- at 62 yards. He finished 44/63 on field goals, while punting 159 times for 6570 yards.

He spent the next few seasons in camp with the Packers (1988), the Lions and Chargers (1989) and the Bears (1990). Tom was selected by the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League in 1991 to play punter. Whelihan had 49 punts for 1846 yards while pinning 18 opponents inside their own 20 yard line.

In 1995 he emerged again stateside playing for the Arena Football League playing for the St Louis Stampede, and then in 1997 for the Albany Firebirds.

A great autograph from Tom, as he also reminded me that the Galaxy did beat the Riders in San Antonio in 1991 in a 10-3 yawner of a contest.

WLAFPYDSAVGLG
49184637.761
ARENAXPAXPMFGAFGM
1741467033