A JuCo star in 1987 at DuPage, Mike Bellamy played wide receiver for the Fightin’ Illini from 1988 to 1989. There he’d be one of the primary targets of overall number one pick Jeff George. He’d post 59 catches for 927 yards and 8 touchdowns in 1989, and finish his overall college career with 90 catches for 1,404 yards and 10 TDs. He also flashed skills on special teams as a kick returner. His finest moment came when he caught 10 passes for 189 yards , as the Illini beat the Cavaliers in the 1990 Citrus Bowl.
Mike parlayed his impressive performance and pro day into a second round selection. He’d be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, a team notorious for their abuse of their wide receiver corps under head coach Buddy Ryan. Mike had a hard time getting onto the field because of injury, and only saw limited time on the field on punt returns, in a quickly bustling wide receiver corps behind fellow rookies Calvin Williams and Fred Barnett. Only after a season on the Eagles, Mike was released.
From 1992 to 1995 Mike spent time on and off the rosters of the Indianapolis Colts, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Chicago Bears, and Oakland Raiders. During his stint in the CFL in ’93, Bellamy played slotback for the Blue Bombers, catching 12 passes for 104 yards.
In 1995, Mike joined the Frankfurt Galaxy of the newly reformed World League. He’d have his finest moment since his college days catching 30 passes for 479 yards and 7 TDs. Mike returned to play for the Galaxy again in 1996, adding another 22 catches for 313 yards.
After returning stateside, Mike turned his eye towards coaching. He’s seen positional stops as a receivers coach, quality control coach, relations, and as an assistant coach, with Mississippi State, with his Alma Mater, the Fightin’ Illini, and most recently with the Toledo Rockets. Mike was also honored by the JUCO HOF in 2009.
Earl Okine is a giant of a physical specimen clocking in at 6’8″, 290. He played defensive end and tackle for the Florida Gators from 2009-2012. Over that period he managed 27 tackles and a sack. He’d go undrafted in 2013- later signing with the Houston Texans, and then briefly joining the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. In 2014, Earl played for the Orlando Predators of the Arena leagues, where I saw him play against the San Antonio Talons that year. He notched 28 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 pass blocks, and a forced fumble. Later he hopped over to the FXFL to join the Brooklyn Bolts.
Earl finally found a home in the NFL with the Colts in 2015, spending nearly the entire season on and off the Colts regular season roster and practice squad. He then spent the next year on the Kansas City Chiefs on the bubble of the roster as well at OLB. After a short stay on the Lions, he’d spend the entire 2017 season on the practice squad of the Cardinals.
He’d join the Alliance of American Football in 2018- signing with the Orlando Apollos. The Apollos decided to put Earl’s strengths to best use at outside linebacker. Earl started 7 games for the 7-1 Apollos. He finished with 26 tackles, 5 sacks, and a critical tipped ball interception that he made to seal the win against the Memphis Express in Week 8.
Fredd Young is a member of the New Mexico State Hall of Fame. A fast and hard hitting linebacker with huge hands, Fredd had over 400 tackles in his college career at NM State, and recorded 12 sacks as a Senior. He’d be selected in the 3rd round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
Fredd contributed immediately to the Seahawks defense, and very quickly established himself as a starter during his rookie year. He’d be named to the Pro Bowl after his rookie year, and the next following 3 years. His first two Pro Bowl nominations came on special teams, and his next two came at strongside inside linebacker. In his final year with the Seattle (1987), Brian Bosworth joined him at linebacker commanding an unheard of 10 year $11 million dollar contract. Unable to secure such a lucrative contract from the team for his proven talent, Fredd held out through the first game of the 1988 season.
The Seahawks didn’t take kindly to this, but found a suitor waiting in the wings as the Colts traded two first round picks in order to get Young to help fortify their defense. He’d sign a 5 year, $4.5 million dollar contract with Indianapolis. Fredd played the next 3 years with the team. His high water mark came in 1989 when he posted 122 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. After a solid ’89, Fredd was again on pace for another quality followup year in 1990, but got injured during the 11th game of the season against Buffalo. It turned out to be career ending, as it was the same hip-flexor injury that Bo Jackson famously had his career ended by.
My first recollection of Fredd is from the game Tecmo Bowl back in 1988. Being that there wasn’t a Houston franchise, I started playing Seattle on a whim. With the player licenses (but not the team rights) the ‘Seattle Knights’ as the logo led me to believe, were a blast to play. Fredd Young was a speedy missile inside, and I crushed opposing ball carries with him rushing upfield.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.