Card: Panini Contenders 2013
Acquired: 2017, EBay
Cierre Wood was a solid runningback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish from 2010-2013. In his Sophomore year he led the team with 603 yards on 119 carries, scoring 3 TDs. He also displayed nice hands out of the backfield with 20 receptions for 170 yards and 2 TDs. Cierre put together a solid Junior year, with 1,102 yards and 9 TDs on 217 carries. He returned for his Senior campaign in 2013 and posted 742 yards on 114 carries. Scouts were underwhelmed by Wood’s blocking, questioned his ball security, and were concerned about a suspension for breaking team rules during his Senior season. He went unselected during the 2013 NFL Draft.
Cierre signed with the Houston Texans for 2013. The Texans were in transition at runningback and beginning to seek a future heir for Arian Foster. With Foster oft-injured, Ben Tate locked into the second string job and the departure of Justin Forsett to greener pastures, it was a straight up battle between Dennis Johnson, Cierre Wood, and Ray Graham for the 3rd back spot. In the end Wood won out on the runningback derby. The Texans kicked off the season 2-0, but then dropped the next 14 games. It was really a snakebitten squad. Injuries abound, quarterback issues, Kubiak having a heart attack during a game- it was just one thing after another. In the midst of the descent Cierre was released with two other players for violating unspecified team rules. He’d finish the season on the practice squad of the New England Patriots.
In 2014, Cierre spent some time on the rosters of both the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. He joined the Buffalo Bills in 2015 but blew out an ACL, ending his season. Wood rehabbed and decided to give the CFL a shot, signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2017. In early May he was traded to the Montreal Alouettes but did not make the squad.
Panini’s Contenders set is always pretty solid. I found the split design of this particular card to be both daring and unique as there are very few column grid cards like this one. The photo is touched up well and it’s a solid action shot of Cierre. Even the typography of this card looks good, and there is plenty of space for the autograph.
Card: Sage 2009
Acquired: 2017, Walmart Autographed Memorabilia
Martell Mallet has led a very interesting football career. Admittedly there really wasn’t much to go on for scouts when it came to Martell. He played at Arkansas Pine Bluff and only saw action in 2007 and 2008. His body of experience was limited, With a bit over 170 touches and a little over 1000 yards to his resume, it is easy to see why the big back went undrafted in 2009.
Mallet still wanted to play, so he signed with the CFL joining the British Columbia Lions that year. He’d have a pretty sensational rookie year finishing with over 1400 yards rushing, setting the single game franchise rushing record (213 yards), and earning the CFL equivalent of Rookie of the Year. After the season he’d join the Eagles in early 2010 and spent much of the early portion of the year on and off the squad. After a brief stay on the Browns practice squad during that year and a return to the Eagles in 2011, Mallett again was on the move to the New York Giants. An injury prevented him from suiting up, and he was given an injury settlement.
Martell decided to try his hand again with the CFL signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2012. He got injured in camp and was on IR the entire year. During 2013 he’d be released and then in 2014 Martell signed with the Calgary Stampeders. At this point, Martell had gone roughly 4 years without playing in a game. He came in for the Stamps in a pinch and ran for 163 yards on 27 carries. His efforts helped the Stamps win the Grey Cup. After the season, he retired from football.
CFL 37 RUSH 241 YDS 1403 AVG 5.8 TD 6 LG 57
REC 50 YDS 414 AVG 8.3 TD 2 LG 26
Card: Sage 2015
Acquired: 2016, EBay
Lynden Trail was one of the darlings of the Houston Texans venture onto Hard Knocks. Going to college at Norfolk State, he finished his Senior season with 91 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks. Undrafted in 2015, Trail signed a free agent contract with the Texans, but he tore his quad during the preseason and received an injury settlement from the Texans. He’d recover and sign with the Washington Redskins spending time on and off their practice squad throughout 2016. A project player with great physical attributes (6’7″, 269), Lynden has seen the field briefly during the NFL regular season recording 2 tackles and a pass deflection. After a brief stint with the La Rams that year, he’d rejoin the Redskins. I saw him play in the Spring League during 2018, and soon thereafter he signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.
I had high hopes for Trail as a project for the Texans but obviously they didn’t have the patience that I did. He’s a real down to Earth story of humility and the everyday man you cheer for.