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
Card: ProSet 1990
Acquired: In Person 1992, Dallas Cowboys training camp
Following an outstanding career at UCLA, the Chargers in the 1990 draft took Frank Cornish in the 6th round. A well rounded blocker and great locker room presence, Cornish would play with the Chargers through the 1991 season, before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 1992. I had literally heard he was traded and remembered that I had a card of him and just stuffed it into my assortment. From what I remember he was there the next day. Cornish would then block for Cowboys runningback Emmitt Smith over the next season or two providing valuable depth for two seasons earning rings in SuperBowl XXVII and XXVIII. Frank would then head over to the Minnesota Vikings for 7 games after being relased in 1994 and then would then sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars during their innaugural season and play in 3 games in 1995, -finally finishing with the Eagles in 2 final games in 1996 before retiring. He’d appear in a grand total of 69 regular season games.
In his post NFL career Cornish had become a stockbroker working for Wachovia Securities in Southlake, Tx and was involved in numerous charities. Frank had some financial issues after his playing career ended, but still managed to persevere through it all. Sadly and suddenly on August 22 of 2008, Frank passed away in his sleep of heart disease at the age of 40. He is survived by his wife and 5 children and the city dedicated a park to his honor at Town Square.