Tag Archives: journeyman quarterback

Tomczak, Mike (2)

Cards: Skybox 92, Action Packed 1989, Score 1989
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Work
Sent:  12/4/16    Received: 2/11/17 (65 days)
See Also: Mike Tomczak

Mike’s dreams came true when he joined the Chicago Bears- a team he idolized as a kid. While Ditka put so much pressure on Mike that he considered quitting the sport he loved, Mike ended up carving out a 15 year career in the NFL playing at a variety of stops in the league after Chicago. Infamously during his stay in Green Bay he opted to hold out for a better contract- which caused the team to cut him, and brought about the Brett Favre era that much quicker. Mike had no problem spreading the love around, throwing to 35 different players in 88 touchdown strikes. While Mike only topped the 300 yard mark one time with the Bears, Packers, and Browns, he blossomed late in his career adding 3 more to his career with the Steelers. Mike is known for being the lead guitar player during the Bears infamous 1985 ‘Super Bowl Shuffle’ video. He also shares the same birthday with fellow quarterback Doug Flutie.

Tomczak had some great cards over his career. It took me some time to figure out which ones to send him. After some deliberation I decided on these three. I liked the design and photo for all three of these cards. Action Packed did a short run test promo in 1989 that covered a few NFC teams. It was pretty much identical to their 1990 run, minus the copyright. Score 1989 was blockbuster by any right with the vibrant colors and strong action photos standing out. Skybox was a late addition to the market, coming from the basketball arena, but its initial offering was simple, clean, and impressive.

Tomczak, Mike

Card: Score 1990
Acquired: Canton Acquisition 2012

Mike Tomczak is a great example of what an embattled quarterback is, suffering through the drama and controversy of being sandwiched between the Jim McMahon and the Jim Harbaugh eras in Mike Ditka’s run as head coach of the Chicago Bears. Tomczak was not drafted by the Bears, rather he was an unpolished diamond in the rough that the team plucked out of Ohio State in 1985. The scrappy, pretty boy quarterback got in some playing time and things looked even more opportunistic for him with the retirement of Steve Fuller after 1986, but the Bears had other plans and pulled the trigger on Michigan signal caller Jim Harbaugh in ’87 during the first round of the draft.

Tomczak still got playing time in between McMahon and Harbaugh as both quarterbacks (McMahon and Harbaugh) had a propensity to get injured. A good game manager, Tomczak had the quirky honor of winning his first 10 professional starts at quarterback. This allowed for a quarterback controversy to bloom first with McMahon and then later with Harbaugh as fans just wanted to win, no matter how ugly it was. It was rough for Mike as he had a tendency to force the ball to the receiver early in his playing career.  After 6 seasons in Chicago, Mike was allowed to leave via Free Agency.  For the Bears, Tomczak posted a 21-10 record as a starter, a 49.6 completion percentage, and 33 touchdowns to 47 interceptions.  He also ran for 326 yards and 8 touchdowns.  Mike didn’t have to travel far- in fact, he went up the road to division rival Green Bay.

Green Bay had been a doormat for the NFC Central for many years, but after an amazing 1989 season with Don Majkowski at the helm guiding the team to a 10-6 record, people expected more of the Pack, but with an underwhelming 1990, at 6-10 losing some pretty tight games, optimism was still riding high in 1991. Things didn’t go as planned, and Mike split time with Majkowski. He’d post decent numbers under center, (11 TDs to 9 picks and 1490 yards) but the team fell to a 4-12 mark. In Green Bay it was regime changing time, so Lindy Infante and his staff were out the door, and so was Mike.

Things didn’t change for Tomczak. Either he had the best or worst luck of any professional out there. Either there was an incumbent who got injured so he stepped right in, or coaches wanted him to replace the starter. Case in point, Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns in 1993. After a slow start and a broken hand impeded Bernie Kosar, Tomczak, who didn’t play all that bad, lead the team to a 4-4 record in Kosar’s relief. Again, it was a short stop for Mike,  as he’d be replaced by Vinny Testaverde.

Mike landed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1994. He’d back up Neil O’Donnell at quarterback and see his first Super Bowl since his rookie season after the 1995 season- a loss to the Cowboys. He’d get his chance to show his stuff though shortly after, and be named starter of the Steelers in 1996. Tomczak had his best season since his days in Chicago, posting a 10-5 record. It was shortlived, and he’d be replaced in the lineup by electrifying, if not inconsistent, Kordell Stewart. Stewart remained starter throughout the 1998 season with Mike seeing limited playing time here and there until 1999 when he played in 5 more contests.  He’d have a really nice finale to his time there throwing for 1625 yards and 12 touchdowns to only 8 picks. In a footnote, Tomczak signed with the Detroit Lions in 2000, but broke his leg and decided to end his career.  He’d be the final member of the Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX team to retire.

Mike has remained involved in the sport since retirement. He’s worked behind the desk and as a color commentator for games. As of 2013, Mike is the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League.

G/Gs 185/73    Att 2337     Comp  1248      Yds  16079    Pct  53.4    Td  88     Int 85     Rat 68.9  |
Rush 198    Yds 526    Avg  2.7   Td 9    Lg 48

Carr, David

Card: PressPass 2002
Acquired: Purchase 2010, Beckett.com

In an attempt to catch up on the Texans, I purchased all of their first round draft choices certified autographs through Beckett.com. While I shrug typically at the practice of doing so because it lacks the element of the memory or the hunt, it does help me put my memories of the team in perspective- some 9 seasons after they became a franchise.

I remember when the draft came that season. I was living high on the hog as a stockbroker and the Texans had the #1 card simply because they were an expansion team in 2002. As the draft approached two names surfaced- David Carr and Drew Henson.  Henson opted to play for the Yankees and bowed out practically leaving Carr as the defacto #1 quarterback in the draft after he had an outstanding career at Fresno State. When the name surfaced, I literally said, “Who?” Looking back now at this draft- it was just disastrous on the offensive side of the ball. Only one quarterback out of this draft- David Garrard, has made the ProBowl (and that is because everybody else bowed out in 2009). In the end, Clinton Portis would be the biggest name to come out of the offensive side of the draft.

Here’s the thing and retrospect is a bitch, the Texans should’ve been looking elsewhere than quarterback. Just because you draft #1 doesn’t mean you get the best player at any position and then you have to weigh in the talent as far as how they’d compete against the rest of the league. It’s just this- you can be the best at your position, but still be not that good when you get on the big stage, because the player position you came in with wasn’t that great.

I have a lot of empathy for David Carr. He had to shoulder the burden of being the Texans franchise #1 overall pick. Playing for an expansion team, for a city that was ‘quality’ football playoff starved can put a lot of pressure on a young guy. Carr was likable enough, with good moral character and was quite trainable. The problem was he was picked apart and scouts didn’t like the mechanics of his throwing arm or his questionable arm strength. Furthermore being quite trainable can be a double-edged sword because you can be trained to do really bad things.

Well the Texans first game started out great. David Carr and the team silenced all critics stunning the league with a 19-10 victory over their cross-state rival Dallas Cowboys. It was only the second time in NFL history an expansion team came out of the gates with a victory. After that it wasn’t so great as the team skidded to a 4-12 record. The greatest problem was a twofold issue. Carr was sacked way too much because of a pourous offensive line, (setting an NFL record with an astounding 72 sacks), and he was holding onto the ball way too long. His stats weren’t great and he was expected to improve. While 2003 was a marginal improvement Carr would be injured starting only 12 games that season. In 2004 Carr finally started turning the corner, setting career highs in all passing categories and had a respectable 83.5 quarterback rating working with young wide receiver Andre Johnson. The team went 7-9 and hopes were high. The sacks problem though re-emerged and Carr went down 49 times.  At some point the coaching staff decided the problem wasn’t the offensive line- rather it was David Carr’s awareness, and in a Pavlovian like move they installed a buzzer in practice that would sound to remind Carr that he needed to throw the ball if he held it longer than 4 seconds. This probably made Carr more skittish and was only putting a band-aid over the Texans’ gaping wound- the offensive line, as in 2005 David suffered the wrath of 68 more sacks. (I really questioned this because Carr was an avid scrambler who put up some 1100 yards rushing in his career in Houston.) The team regressed to a 2-14 record and the complete staff was fired from Houston. With the arrival of new coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith, the Texans were again at the helm of the draft in 2006. The consensus was that the Texans would take Reggie Bush or maybe even hometown hero quarterback Vince Young. The Texans did neither, placing their confidence in David Carr for an additional season and drafted Mario Williams, but Kubiak let Carr know he was on a short leash. Carr’s final season in Houston would be something on TV full of effort but error prone and after 5 seasons, the writing was on the wall that Carr was no longer the franchise’s quarterback as his work ethic then became a source of scrutiny. With a trade to Atlanta the Texans grabbed Matt Schaub and Carr was asked to take a salary cut to play backup. Balking at the move, the Texans outright cut Carr from the team. His tenure in Houston was over.

Carr would become a journeyman, playing for the Carolina Panthers in 2007 and the Giants in 2008 and 2009. In 2010 he signed with the 49ers where he was the only quarterback under contract after the dismissal of Mike Singletary and his staff, and the hiring of Jim Harbaugh. During the 2011 offseason the 9ers would let him walk and he’d re-sign with the Giants.

Carr’s career since Houston has been largely in mop up duty and fairly ignorable. Despite his impressive 2009 spot work (behind encumbent Eli Manning) in New York, it remains to be seen what the future holds for David Carr.  I do sometimes wonder how David’s career would have turned out if he wasn’t under the microscope in Houston and I hope for the best for him. When I see the worst picks of all time, I fret when Carr is considered a ‘bust’, because what choice did he or this franchise have?

Of note, Carr has a penchant of wearing  a glove on one hand to help him grip the ball better in cold weather, on the advisement of former quarterback Jim McMahon. It’s undetermined whether or not this actually benefitted David, as he fumbled  21 times in 2002, 17 times in 2005 and 16 in 2006.  That means during roughly some 2500 snaps Carr has fumbled once in every 27 times he touched the ball. During the team’s 7-9 run Carr had a bet that as long as the Texans couldn’t win two games in a row he’d keep growing his hair longer and was named one of ‘People’s Sexiest Men Alive’ that year.  His number has also since been retired by his college, Fresno State.

G/Gs 92/79     Att  2264   Comp 1351     Yds 14433    Pct 59.7     Td 65      Int 71    Rat 74.9
Rush 302    Yds 1331     Avg  4.4    Td  9