Don Maynard is considered the best receiver in Jets history, one of the best receivers in AFL history, and one of the best receivers in NFL history. At the time of Maynard’s retirement he held the NFL record for career receptions and yards. He was the first player to crack the 10k barrier in receiving yards. An amazing feat considering it was still during an era where the passing game had not fully developed yet. Don epitomized consistency and longevity. (Oddly enough he never led the league in catches at any time but his sheer numbers made up for it en force.)
Maynard was originally drafted by the New York Giants in 1957, but only played one lone season for them before bolting North to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL. He’d return shortly thereafter to the fledgling AFL in 1960- becoming the first signee of the then New York Titans (later Jets). Over the next 10 seasons in the AFL he’d be named to the All-AFL team 4 times. In the final season before the AFL NFL merger, he’d help the Jets win Super Bowl III and notably graced the cover of the big game’s program guide as well.
Don joined the Rams in 73, but ultimately ended up on the St. Louis Cardinals for a lone season, retiring after a bout with the WFL playing for the Shreveport Steamer/ Houston Texans.
Maynard played college ball for Rice, and later Texas Western (UTEP). He was a proven runningback and defensive back, but was unpolished gold at receiver. His number has been retired by the Jets, got his gold jacket along the way, and has been a Grand Marshall for UTEP at one of their parades. He lives outside of the El Paso area, in relative anonymity.
I had been wanting Don for sometime but I thought he was out of reach. I really liked these cards of his and always wanted to get them signed so I went ahead and took a shot with a small donation. In the end I also had a Pro Set Super Bowl III card that I opted to send to Matt Snell instead (because he should’ve been MVP). Still the Topps 1970 is iconic, while the Upper Deck Legends 1997 hits all the marks for perfection.
Ron Dayne ran into the college record books with 7,125 career yards rushing for Wisconsin over a 4 year period from 1996 to 1999. In both 1996 and 1999 he cracked the 2,000 yard plateau for the Badgers. During his senior season Ron ran 337 times for 2,034 yards and 20 TDs, culminating in him winning the Heisman Trophy and wresting the rushing record from Ricky Williams. Ron was selected in the 1st round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New York Giants.
With Gary Brown on the way out in New York, the Giants were looking to shore up their woeful backfield which had a woeful combined 1408 yards rushing. Ron was a good fit for the team. With the emergence of Tiki Barber at runningback at a hair above 1,000 yards, Ron took on more of a fullback/ short yardage/ bam back role for the Giants. He’d start 4 games and rush for 770 yards on 228 carries and 5 TDs as NY made it to the Super Bowl. Fans dubbed Ron ‘Thunder’ and Barber ‘Lightning’ based on their 1 2 punch in the backfield- however this was the high point in his early career.
Ron really never found his footing in New York as a starting back. During 2001 he’d start 7 games, and there was always the concern about his yards per carry which hung consistently around 3.4 yards per carry. Injuries were also an issue, as it seemed unfairly that the idea of running players into the ground before they made it to the pros became popularized after Dayne was drafted. His stats dropped every season in New York until he was released after the 2004 season.
Ron signed with the Denver Broncos in 2005, eager for a fresh start, but after a dubious start, he finished with only 270 yards and a TD in 10 games. On the bright side, he had a career high 5.1 yards per carry- but it’d be his only season playing for the Broncos as he’d be unceremoniously cut in camp.
Ron was snapped up by the Texans looking for veteran help at the runningback position to pair alongside Vernand Morency and rookie Wali Lundy after Domanick Davis was shelved on IR. Ron had previously played under offensive coordinator (now coach of the Texans) Gary Kubiak in Denver so this made a good fit. In 11 games (6 starts) Ron would have a renaissance of sorts with the Texans, rumbling for 612 yards and 5 TDs (4.1 YPC). He’d return in 2007 to Houston, and start a career high 8 games filling in for Ahman Green, rushing 194 times for a career high 773 yards and 6 TDs (4.0 YPC), and helping the young franchise reach an 8-8 record.
Dayne lives in Wisconsin. I got his autograph through his website via jumping through hoops and paying a fee. I had always wanted to get his autograph for a variety of reasons, (Heisman Winner, College All-Time Cumulative Leading Rusher, he played for the Texans) and this great card. I couldn’t get a scan to do the bottom portion justice but based on the photo area alone, it’s a nice piece.
On a side note, I was told by a Texans player that Dayne loved to play cards on plane flights (and was an easy mark).
Lamar Miller has moved into white whale territory for me. I have been trying hard to get his autograph for the past few years now. I even went to what I thought was a signing down in Houston that he was doing at a bank. When I arrived after fighting my way through the rain, I found out that he was not going to sign outside items. There is no greater annoyance than an event not posting on their website that outside items are not allowed. I attempted to appeal to Lamar through his Twitter feed but, alas I was out of luck. It was a low point to my collecting- and it did some damage to my interest in making these long distance drives to autograph events around the state.
Lamar played for the Hurricanes from 2010 to 2011. He piled up the numbers in 2011 posting 227 carries for 1272 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also got involved in the passing game, catching 17 passes, and a little bit of time in the return game. He’d be selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Lamar worked his way into the starting lineup in 2013, starting 15 games that year. His first impact season came in 2014 when Miller ran for 1099 yards and 8 TDs including a 97 yarder. Over the years, Lamar became more involved in the passing game catching a career high 47 passes in 2015.
In 2016 the Houston Texans were looking to reload at two workhorse positions, quarterback and runningback. The Texans plucked the two highest rated players from the free agency pool: Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller on the same day. I was beside myself with the signing of Miller. I knew that he was going to be counted on to replace Arian Foster. When given the choice of getting an Osweiler or Lamar Miller jersey- I didn’t skip a beat in selecting Lamar. During his first season with the Texans, he carried the ball a career high 268 times, but the Texans essentially ran him into the ground. He finished with 1073 yards on the season in 14 starts. In his crowning moment, the Texans came back for victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Lamar caught a pass and did a 360 spin and dodged 3 would be tacklers en route to the endzone.
2017 was a down year for Lamar. He’d carry the ball 238 times for 888 yards in 13 starts and catch a career high 3 TDs. I am of the opinion that the team’s offensive scheme doesn’t compliment Lamar’s running style. Lamar is a great slasher back. You get him outside the tackles and let him work in open space and he’s pretty amazing.
In 2018, Lamar earned his first Pro Bowl appearance. Starting 14 contests he put together 973 yards on 210 carries. His 4.6 YPC was his highest since 2014. He’d also become the first RB in NFL history with two 95+ yard TD runs- in his career, as he torched the Tennessee Titans during a pivotal matchup for a 97 yard gallop. Miller also chipped in 163 yards on 25 receptions.
Considered the incumbent back entering 2019, Miller looks to build off of an encouraging 2018 campaign.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.