Tag Archives: gunslinger

Pastorini, Dante ‘Dan’

Card: Topps 1977
Acquired: In Person 6/11/2012 610 Houston Fan Fest III
Failure: TTM 2010, C/o Home

Yeah! When I think of the old Oiler players- legends, I think of guys of both the late 70s and late 80s. Before Warren Moon, Dan Pastorini was a legend in his own light, with the Midwest swagger of Joe Namath, a pretty boy face, and a cannon for an arm. He went to tiny Santa Clara college because he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his brother. There he set passing records and became a thing of legend at the tiny school.

The hungry Oilers, who were starving for wins, grabbed Dante with the 3rd overall pick of the 1971 draft.  (This draft is notable as it was the first time quarterbacks went 1,2,3, overall in a draft with Jim Plunkett and Archie Manning coming off the board before Dan.) It’s tough being hailed as the team’s savior, little less one for a team that hadn’t won since the days of George Blanda and Charlie Hennigan. The years were rough on Dan. Dan was a gunslinging wounded warrior with a cannon for an arm and a killer leg for punting, -but not all his injuries came from playing, which irked his coaches. Over his career Pastorini cracked ribs, separated shoulders, blew out a knee, and broke more fingers than he could remember.  He became quite the celebrity and also was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1975. During this time he’d help pioneer the flak jacket for the NFL, and only miss 5 games due to injury. Amazing considering the era it was. Fans loved him, and fans- well- hated him.  Still Dan was a darling of Hollywood, and Las Vegas, where the Oilers were known as winners, because of their penchant to beat the spread despite their losing ways.

In 1978 the team drafted Earl Campbell, and with that, teams began to fear the Tyler Rose more than the gunslinger from Sonora. Pastorini responded by having one of his best professional seasons throwing for 16 touchdowns and 2473 yards. A guy who called the plays at the line of scrimmage, Pastorini guided the Oilers to the playoffs 3 times over his career. The Oilers were truly the only team that could challenge the Steel Curtain Dynasty of the 70s.

In 1980, he requested to be traded to anywhere on the West Coast. Bum Phillips honored his wishes, and Pastorini was traded to the Oakland Raiders for Ken Stabler, but things went from bad to worse for Dan. He won his first Super Bowl title that year, standing on the sidelines in a drunken stupor sitting behind Jim Plunkett, not unable to play, but because the team went with the hot hand, and Al Davis had made it personal. Blackballed out of the organization, he’d spend one year in limbo with the Los Angeles Rams. Thinking his career was over, Dick Vermeil gave Pastorini a call in 1982 and gave him another shot because, well, Vermeil didn’t like how things turned out for Dan. It was a year of healing for Pastorini as he was reunited with the coach that drafted him, -Sid Gillman. While 1982 gave him a lot of closure and redemption on his playing days, 1983 brought in a new coach, and Pastorini hung up his cleats after the season.

Dan has passionately pursued his hobbies since retirement. He’s spent a lot of time drag racing, and dabbled in acting. He currently lives in Houston. I met him at the 610 Fan Fest this year, and he signed everything for fans. Dan was also selling his book, which he did like he always does and loves to do as a hands on kind of guy. I had no problem buying his book in exchange for an extra autograph inside the book. When he asked me what he should pen, I jokingly quipped, “To my illegitimate son, Lee,” which got a great smile out of him. He then suggested “Luv ya blue?”, and I nodded appreciatively.  Dan also markets a brand of bbq sauces and currently lives in Houston.

His book: “Taking Flak” is a wonderful read if you are a fan of the Oilers from any era. It really is an honest account from the man who was right at the center of it for nearly 10 years. It also chronicles the multiple deaths and rebirths of Pastorini, searching to find his place in society through his competitive nature and dueling with the demons of our days.  I really recommend it.

I had a second card for the event, but gave it away to another fan. He came up and begged me for the card since he forgot to pack something and offered me anything that he had to get it. I looked through and told him he had nothing, and told him just to take it. He gave me a bunch of Cowboys cards…

G/Gs     Att 3055    Comp 1556    Yds 18515    Pct 50.9       Td  103      Int   161    Rat 59.1
Rush 216    Yds 685     Avg 3.8     Td 8  Lg 27
P 316     Yds  12530    Avg 39.7    Lg 70   Blk 1

George, Jeff

Cards: Action Packed Rookies 1992, ProSet 1990, Score Supplemental 1990, Action Packed Rookies 1990, Special Insert
Acquired: TTM 1992, Colts Blitz, In Person 1997, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp, TTM 2011, C/o home
Sent: 2/14   Received: 2/26  (12 days)

I sent out for Jeff’s autograph as part of the Colts Blitz in 1992, where he managed to stamp my cards and send me a special insert autograph. The ink pooled and the stamp was really bad on my Action Packed Rookies and ProSet card. I was not happy about it, but put them in my collection anyway. Years later I’d get his autograph on a card at Cowboys training camp in 1997 when he was with the Raiders. I decided in 2010 to send out for him. He always had some killer cards that I liked and I heard he was an exceptional TTM signer. I decided to send Action Packed Rookies 1990, ProSet 1990, and a Score Supplemental 1990 for him to sign.  George had some great cards, (Fleer 1990 and Score 1990 were also some great looking finalists) and it was a really hard decision on what to send but I was just happy to get these cards signed that looked like black eyes in my collection for so long in such a short amount of time. He also included another special insert card, which was exactly the same as the one picture above from 1992, validating that it was indeed a print.
With a cannon for an arm Jeff George is one of the most prolific passers to come out of the University of Illinois. Almost coming out of nowhere in to lead the class of 1990, George had the Colts salivating to get him. The problem was, the Falcons held the #1 overall pick. Led by crafty coach Jerry Glanville, he and his staff exploited Indianapolis’ interest in George and fleeced the Colts, getting T Chris Hinton, WR Andre Rison, and the Colts #1 pick in 1991 all in exchange for the rights to draft Jeff George #1 in 1990.  The hype machine worked as the Falcons had Hinton and Rison as building blocks to propel them back into the playoffs for the first time in almost 10 years. The Colts felt they were one player away with the deal and while things looked optimistic early with George under center- everything else went backwards.  His rookie season was actually quite good, as Jeff threw for 16 TDs, 13 Int and 2100 yards; However, playoff pressure continued to mount over the next 3 seasons. In 1991, the team collapsed to a 1-15 record. While George would remain consistent, with injuries and holdouts piling up on Eric Dickerson at runningback, teams began to key heavily on Jeff. -He was sacked a league leading 56 times. 1992, would be an injury plagued year for George. I remember against the Oilers, that season, George did not start due to injury. The Oilers dismantled Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau. Forced to start  Tom Tupa for the remainder of the contest- the Oilers then knocked him out of the game. George came in under center on the last series and on the first snap- unprovoked- Sean Jones came across the line offsides and dropped George. George got up woozy and this is basically how the last 3 seasons went in Indy for the maligned quarterback. Despite throwing 7 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, George appeared to be on his way up and the team finished 6-4 with him under center starting 10 games battling injuries in 1992. 1993 would return the team to a the downward slide, and by season’s end George would be the black sheep of Indianapolis. Once the heralded savior of hometown Indianapolis- George was rode out in the middle of the night in 1994 in a trade- ironically to the team that sold the Colts the bill of goods in the first place- the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons era of George’s career was impressive. Jeff was allowed to blossom into a gunslinger in the Red Gun offense under coaching guru June Jones.  He’d have a breakout season with career highs in nearly all his passer categories in 1994. It appeared as though a change of scenery was all Jeff needed. In 1995 he’d top his previous season’s numbers. It would be his second season in a row with 500+ attempts and a qb rating of 89.5. Unfortunately in 1996 George and Jones had a nasty exchange on the sidelines that was caught on camera. Jones reacted by benching George for the remainder of the season- something that Jones in retrospect has come to acknowledge may have been a mistake. From there George garnered an unfortunate moniker as a cancer. He’d be dealt to the Raiders in 1997 where he again got the chance to redeem himself.

Al Davis loves himself his speed. He also loves gunslingers- and George fit this bill to the T.  Embraced by the Raiders George came out and had one of his finest seasons leading the league with 3917 yards passing, 29 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, a 91.2 qb rating, but was sacked again a league leading 58 times. He’d throw 500 or more attempts for the 3rd time in his career. I’d get his autograph in training camp that season where he signed my Action Packed 1992 card. A cool guy, he signed stacks of cards for fans. 1998 would be an injury plagued season for George, and he’d be bounced after the season.

He’d sign a free agent contract with the Vikings in 1999 and again reinvent himself under Dennis Green with another fine season, throwing 23 touchdowns and a gaudy 14.7 yards per throw (to up and coming wide receiver Randy Moss) in 10 games.  He’d sign with the Redskins the following year as a backup, but would see starting time through the season as starter Brad Johnson would either be injured or ineffective. In 2000, he’d be named the defacto starter under new head coach Marty Schottenheimer, but only lasted 2 weeks in Marty’s more play action oriented offense- thus beginning the journeyman phase of George’s career.

In 2002, after sitting out nearly a year and a half- there’d be a Jeff George sighting in Seattle as an emergency quarterback. He’d show up again in 2004 as a backup in Chicago and in Oakland again in 2006- (reunited with Randy Moss) but never see playing time in any stop.

George has not officially retired, and at this time remains in ‘playing shape’, ready to take the reins up to play quarterback at the ripe age of 42.  I suggested to him playing a season in the UFL to prove his worth to a team but did not receive a response from him. He continues to make occasional radio and TV appearances, and has from time to time received attention from the league in tryouts but has been unable to secure a roster spot on a team.  In the meantime he remains active with his charity for women’s awareness for breast cancer and has made an appearance on Spikes “Pros Versus Joes” . Below are his statistics and a few videos on George, including an amazing workout circa 2009.

G/Gs  131/124    Att  3967     Comp 2298    Yds  27602      Pct  57.9       Td  154     Int  113    Rat 80.4    Lg 85

Jeff George Workout 2009 (!!!)

Details, reactions, ramifications of the Jeff George Trade

Jeff George tribute video

Lomax, Neil

Cards: Topps CL 1985, Score GC 1989, Topps 1987, Score 1989, ProSet 1989
Acquired: In Person 1993, CGA Youth Golf Tournament

Incredibly underrated and forgotten quarterback Neil Lomax lit up the scoreboards during the 1980s for the St. Louis Cardinals. Discovered by then offensive guru Darrell ‘Mouse’ Davis up at Portland State, Neil helped put the school on the map setting offensive passing records in the NCAA.  Lomax would be drafted in the 2nd round of the 1981 draft (,and finish as one of only 2 quarterbacks[ Wade Wilson], to make the Pro Bowl from that draft).

In 8 seasons, he only posted 2 losing records- but finished with a 47-52-2 record. His career highlights would include a 1984 in which he threw for 4614 yards, (which still stands as a team record), and he’d lead the NFL in attempts, completions, and yards averaging 282 yards a game in 1987. An injury in 1989 would curtail his season, and while he’d sit on IR all year, doctors would discover Lomax had an arthritic hip, effectively ending his career. It’s a shame really because if Lomax just had a few more years under his belt, he’d probably be remembered by Cardinals fans as affectionately as Kurt Warner is. (He was at the time of retirement and still over 20 years later, ranked in the top 100 of quarterbacks since 1950.) With the untimely loss of Lomax, the Cardinals would quickly collapse into the doldrums of the NFC East where they’d remain until the emergence of Jake Plummer in 1998.

I met Neil at the CGA Youth Golf Tournament in 1993. He was really flattered by the drawing I did of him and his kids clamored around to look at it to, “Oooh and ahhh”. Neil asked if I had a problem letting his kids hang it up in their room (to which I obviously didn’t) and then signed all of the cards I had brought. An accomplished golfer, Neil is president of the ProMax corporation and has dabbled in coaching. Lomax was inducted into the Oregon Sports HoF in 1993, and the College Football HoF in 1996. He and his family currently reside in Oregon.

G/Gs 108/101    Att 3143   Comp 1817    Yds  22771   Pct 57.6
Td 136     Int 90    Rat 82.7   Lg 93