Cards: ProSet 1989, ProSet 1990, Score 1991
Acquired: TTM 2011, C/o The Cleveland Browns
Sent: 10/6 Received: 11/17 (40 days)
See Also: Gerald McNeil
Gerald McNeil was one of my favorite players as a kid, as I had vivid memories of seeing him play for the Browns, so when the Oilers signed him I was really excited to see what he could do. While those twilight years weren’t as successful as the time he had with the Browns and Gamblers, it was unfortunate that in his final year with the Oilers he suffered a quadriceps injury that ended his career. During his heyday he was one of the most dangerous returners of that age ala the same diminutive size but shifty speed as Lionel James. Gerald’s nickname apparently came about from William “The Refrigerator” Perry. One of McNeil’s teammates remarked that Gerald was so small that he could fit inside The Refrigerator, – and along with his penchant for escaping tackles and scoring touchdowns, the nickname stuck.
I had been after Gerald for quite sometime, and finally was able to find him via… SotL.com. (Notice a recurring theme here yet?) After geeking out for a while, I exchanged some communication with him, where he told me the best way to get an autograph was sending it via the Browns who he acts as an ambassador for (along with the Texans). I zipped out a few cards and after about 40 days, I finally got my hands on the slippery Ice Cube again and completed out the collection of cards that I owned of him- sans the nasty Topps cards of that era.
Cards: Score Supplemental 1990
Acquired: In Person, Houston Oilers Training Camp 1990
See Also: Gerald McNeil (2)
After setting a variety of receiving records at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Gerald McNeil went undrafted out of college because he checked in at a tiny 5″7′, 145. Undaunted Gerald was picked up by the NFL’s fledgling competition, the United States Football League, where he played for the Houston Gamblers in 1984-1985 as one of offensive coordinator Mouse Davis‘ Mouseketeers. In the run and shoot offense (with Jim Kelly as his quarterback) Gerald snagged 58 receptions for 1017 yards, a 17.6 average and 6 touchdowns. He’d be named to the USFL’s All Star Team as a punt returner by the Sporting News.
After the USFL disbanded, McNeil was drafted in the NFL’s supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns. Electrifying fans with his speed, McNeil was nicknamed ‘Ice Cube’ due to his tiny stature and incredible elusiveness. In 1986, during his first season with the Browns, McNeil returned both a punt (84 yards) and a kickoff (100 yards) for a touchdown. Gerald was primarily used as a return specialist during his career and earned a Pro Bowl nomination for his electrifying play in 1987. After finishing first in punt returns with 49 in 1989, Gerald was signed via Free Agency by the Houston Oilers in 1990. They hoped that he would duplicate his performance in the USFL and spell one of the Fab Four when they needed a sub, plus Bud Adams always enjoyed taking swipes and divisional competition. Gerald continued to be the primary punt and kick returner and get some spot playing time in his final season, retiring as a Houston Oiler after the 1990 season.
I got Gerald’s autograph at training camp that season while he was on the Oilers. Yes he was small- and a really nice guy. He had not seen his Score 1990 Supplemental card before and asked me if I had an extra. (It was the first time a player had put me on the spot like that.) Flabbergasted I told him I’d send him one. Back in those days though without the internet, it was hard to track down singles. I was able to get the card, but he retired before I was able to get it to him.
Games 76 Ret 91 Yds 1852 Avg 20.4 Lg 100T Td 1 | Pr 191 Yds 1717 Avg 9.0 Td 1 Lg 84T