Card: Playoff Contenders 2005
Acquired: 2017, C/o EBay
Jerome Mathis was a phenomenal track man while he was at Hampton. He took it to the gridiron too, setting the NCAA record with a gaudy 26.6 career kick return average and 6 TDs. During the combine, Mathis created quite a buzz posting the second best 40 time in history at 4.26. Still he waited to hear his named called until the 4th round of the 2005 draft, because he was considered just a return man from a small school.
The Texans are a very patient team and felt they could wait for Mathis to mature as a receiver. His speed was proven and he could be used on kick and punt returns at least. Mathis took the league by storm his rookie year. He posted 54 kick returns for 1542 yards (28.6 yard average) and 2 touchdowns, including a 99 yarder. His strong rookie campaign earned him Pro Bowl and special teams player of the year honors. During the Pro Bowl he fractured his foot, but it went undetected, forcing him to miss nearly the entire next season on IR. He came back to the squad for 2007 but after 3 games lost his entire year to injured reserve. He still managed to post 11 returns for 320 yards and a 84 yard TD.
Mathis was in a contract year with the Texans in 2007, and as a restricted free agent in 2008 the Texans had first right of refusal or tender. Late in 2007 he had a run in with the law- but whether or not that had anything to do with it, Houston cut him outright 9 days after being charged with a misdemeanor. He signed with the Redskins but was cut a few months later.
In 2009 he joined the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL and was on and off their roster for the season. He spent 2010 briefly with the UFL Hartford Colonials, before playing one final glorious year in the Arena Football League for the Pittsburgh Power. There he set a variety of Power records, retiring after the 2011 season.
NFL 17 Rec 6 Yds 80 Avg 13.3 Td 1 Lg 34t
KR 72 Yds 2154 Avg 28.5 Td 3 Lg 99t
PR 12 Yds 68 Avg 5.7 Td 0 Lg 19
Arena Rec 30 Yds 418 Avg Td 7 Lg 46t
Ret 31 Yds 688 Avg Td 1 Lg 49t
Cards: Playoff Contenders 2004, Leaf Rookies & Stars 2003 (494/750)
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o Home
Sent: 10/20 Received: 10/30 (10 days)
See Also: Jason Babin
After his 2010 appearance on the Tennessee Titans, in which he earned his first Pro Bowl appearance and 12 sacks from the defensive end position, Jason Babin packed his bags and returned to the Philadelphia Eagles. While with the Eagles, he again notched a career high in sacks with 18 and the second of his Pro Bowl appearances. After having a fallout with management, Babin was cut after 11 games and finished his season with the Jaguars in 2012. He played the following year in 2013 with the Jaguars recording 7.5 sacks, before heading over to the Jets for 2014 where he saw his last meaningful statistics. Jason was on the roster of both the Cardinals and Ravens in 2015 and is presumed to be retired from the sport.
With some great cards here of Jason, I really had wanted to get him over the years. I had been advised by friends that he did football camps but after waiting for the past 3 years or so for him to pop up, I decided to just hit him up through the mail and it was a pretty fast turn around for the former Texan.
I like the clean design of the Leaf Rookies & Stars card. The angled lines and slow evolution of this design really punctuated a solid overall look. I probably should’ve gotten one of the Longevity cards that I like, but this one still hits the mark nicely. I really like the Rookie Roundup Playoff cards, almost strictly because of the gimmicky translucency and credit card feel. While devoid of most color it does stand out nicely with an autograph on it- in which Jason kindly and painstakingly used a silver sharpie on.
Card: Upper Deck 2003
Acquired: IP 2014, Kemah Houston Texans Fan Fest.
See Also: JJ Moses, Houston Texans Ambassadors
After losing all of the other cards to the TTM gods back in 2013 of JJ Moses, I quickly scrambled to get some cards together to have him sign at that year’s Fan Fest event. Unfortunately this Upper Deck 2003 missed the cut, so once I got a copy I held onto it just in case I’d get the chance to see JJ again.
I decided at the last second again to make the yearly pilgrimage to Houston for the 2014 Fan Fest. I wasn’t really prepared for the journey there. The weather was some of the worst I had encountered in quite a while, and I got lost. Luckily I pulled out my ancient GPS – that hadn’t ever been updated (2007) and limped into Kemah with a new umbrella in hand. The remnants of a tropical storm were dumping in waves over the Houston area, but thankfully this kept the event low key. I quickly found parking in the covered lot and was directed to the backup makeup location where the players and cheerleaders were going to sign in tents. The players were forgivingly late, but once they got the procession going they quickly signed everything in their way.
When I got up to the front, I was really surprised that JJ remembered me. He was very kind, and let me know that he had read and liked my previous post on him! I hoped at a later date to do a custom of JJ from his days with the Claymores, but I could not find an image that was large enough (that wouldn’t pixelate badly) to use. I reached out to JJ to see if he had anything through his Facebook page, but as of the publishing of this article, did not hear back from him. JJ remains active in the local Houston area for events, charities, and as a Houston Texans’ Ambassador.