Cards: GameDay 1992, StarPics 1992
Acquired:In Person, Houston Oilers Training Camp 1992, 1995
Alabama has a great and wonderful legacy of linebackers and Eddie Robinson, well he went to Alabama State so he played under the shadow of this colossus. Undeterred, Robinson would excel playing for the Hornets and parlay his tremendous career there into a second round choice by the Oilers. The Oilers were looking for new blood at linebacker and Robinson was a competent and versatile fit for the team. The 1992 draft was not a strong draft by any regards outside of the first round, but the team made the most of their selections- especially with Eddie, who was a shrewd selection by the team. Although never making the ProBowl during his tenure, Robinson was consistent and his longevity would allow him also to endure for 11 seasons at linebacker. He was also adequate in coverage, replacing the venerable Johnny Meads at linebacker. Robinson would sign with the Jaguars in 1996. He’d start on defense for the Jaguars when they’d make their first two playoff runs in the then AFC Central. Eddie would soon thereafter resign with the Oilers- who were then the Tennessee Oilers under defensive coordinator and now head coach Jeff Fisher. He’d play for the team as it changed its name to the Tennessee Titans and made a SuperBowl run in 1999 and through 2001. Robinson would play one final season for the Bills in 2002 and retire. The GameDay card here is a really superior card as it really frames his figure well in the long portrait style. Its a shame that the football card market imploded the way it did because the Action Packed and GameDay cards were really a unique foray into trading cards.
G/Gs 175/164 Tac 805 Sac 23 Fum 6 Int 6 Yds 94 Avg 15.6 Td 1 Lg 49t
Card: ProSet 1990
Acquired: In Person 1992, Philadelphia Eagles Traning Camp
The Co-Captain of Penn State’s 1982 championship run, Ron Heller was an offensive tackle at drafted in the bottom of the 4th round of the NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 1984 was a good draft and Heller was a fine specimen at 6’6″, 290. A highly intelligent lineman with a good motor, Heller was both a competent pass and run blocker. Starting immediately out of the gate, Ron would be named to numerous All-Rookie teams at the end of 1984. Playing in obscurity for 4 seasons for the Bucs, Heller would be traded (in 1988) to the Seahawks who in turn traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he’d block for Pro Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham. Ron would become the first Eagles offensive lineman named offensive MVP of the team in 1989. I’d get his autograph at training camp in 1992, before he signed with the Dolphins to block for Dan Marino in 1993. He never missed a beat, starting immediately, and fit right in with the team for 3 seasons. A brutal knee injury would end his career after the 1995 season, but Ron would move on to coaching. He’d finish his playing career playing in 172 games, starting 166 of them.
In 2004, Heller served as an assistant in NFLE on the Amsterdam Admirals. He’d expand on these jobs as an offensive line coach in 2006 and 2007 would allow him to be an offensive coordinator, before the league’s untimely folding. Ron then joined the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 2009 for one season, and then returned to the NFL as an offensive staff assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010.
Cards: ProSet 1989, Fleer 1990, Score 1989
Acquired: In Person 1990, 1992, 1997, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp
Bill Bates is a special player and is one of those players of Dallas Cowboys lore. Undrafted out of Tennessee in 1983, he’d sign a free agent contract with Tom Landry’s Cowboys, where Bates excelled as a fan favorite and a special teams commando.. Undersized and considered slow, Bates had a heart and a motor that made up for both of those shortcomings. His ability to get down the field and uncannily make the jarring hit on the returner was so unbelievable that the NFL basically created a special teamer’s slot in the Pro Bowl just for him. He was named AP and to the Pro Bowl in 1984. Bill early in his career was also utilized well on safety blitzes as he made 9 sacks over his first two seasons. He had a career high 4 interceptions in 1985 and a career high 124 tackles in 1988 from his strong safety position. With a new coach on board (Jimmy Johnson) in 1989 there was some fear that Bates would be cut. Instead he found himself back on special teams again where he remained a key backup with the team through 2 Superbowl victories and retirement after the 1997 season.
Bill has remained quite active since retirement and has spent time as an assistant coach with the Jags and at the high school level. He’s been a motivational speaker, penned his own autobiography and owns a ranch outside of Dallas. -And of course Bill Bates remains a Cowboys spokesperson.
G/Gs 217/47 Tac 667 Sac 18 Fum 7 Int 14 Yds 122 Avg 8.7 Td 0 lg 29