Tag Archives: lombardi award winner

Degrate, Tony ‘The Great’

Card: University of Texas Upper Deck 2011
Acquired: EBay, 2020

Tony Degrate was a monster at defensive tackle, for the Texas Longhorns from 1982 to 1984- and is considered one of the finest D-linemen to play at the school. In his 1984 campaign, he amassed a then school defensive lineman record 123 stops and 12 sacks to clench the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman. All together, Tony had 47 career tackles for loss and 31 sacks.

The Tampa Bay Bandits made an offer to Degrate, which he turned down, but this ruffled the feathers of the concerned NFL who thought he had all but flown the coop. In the end, Tony was selected in the 5th round of the draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. After spending a season with the team, he saw time in camp with the Packers, and later the Bucs.

Tony’s story is a cautionary one, and I relate to him immensely. Degrate is a great talent who let those little nagging voices in his head get to him, and his confidence just kept slipping, and it affected him physically and mentally. Self doubt and guilt are terrible burdens to bear.

I can understand why he is a difficult autograph to get in any capacity, as he probably feels that he let a lot of people- and himself down. He went back to school and finished his art degree, but at one point I believe that he was a personal trainer in the Austin area.

Degrate’s first card came out in 2011 as part of the Upper Deck Texas set. There are 3 cards in the set of him, and he is very difficult to get an autograph from. He doesn’t sign TTM and when I attended an event at the UT Coop he was scheduled to be at, he cancelled at the last moment. I really liked this card of him leaping up and making a play, and I was more than happy to pick up this card via EBay at a reasonable price.

I hope Tony is doing well.

Sims, Kenneth “Special K”

sco90 ksimsCards: Score 1990, Fleer 1990.
Acquired: TTM 2014, C/o Home
Sent: 3/10    Received: 4/8  (29 days)

Kenneth Sims spent his ‘apprentice years’ learning the defensive tackle rotating in behind Steve McMichael and then exploded onto the national scene in his Junior season, racking up 131 tackles for the University of Texas. He was an all All-American at the university in his Senior year, winning the Lombardi Award, and finishing as a runner up (8th) for the Heisman Trophy. He’d average 12 tackles a game over his career for the Longhorns.

Ken parlayed his amazing performance at the University of Texas into being the overall #1 pick of the 1982 draft. At 6’5″, 291 Ken certainly posessed the size and athleticism to anchor the defensive line in the 3-4 alignment for the New England Patriots. The Patriots felt they could kick him outside to play left defensive end. (Ironically McMichael also had a short stint with the Patriots after being drafted by them out of UT as well, but was cut and went on to greater glory for the Chicago Bears.) Sims career unfortunately flr90 ksimswould be marred by injury, and only played 1 full 16 game slate in 1984 recording 96 tackles. During the Patriots improbable 1985 Super Bowl run (XX), Ken had perhaps his finest season, finishing with 5.5 sacks, 65 tackles, and 2 fumble recoveries in 13 games, but injuries during the 1983, 1986, and 1988 seasons, wiped out nearly 3 full seasons of play. He’d retire after the 1989 season back to the Austin area where he’s begun dabbling in sports radio. Ken is an avid Longhorn sports fan and has spent time at the University studying sports management.

G/Gs 74/64    Tac  364   Sac 17    Fum 5   Int  0   Yds  0     Avg -.-    Td 0     Lg -.-

 

Rocker, Tracy

Card: Score 1989, Score 1990, ProSet 1990
Acquired: Canton Acquisition 2012

Tracy Rocker was a monster for the Auburn Tigers from 1985-1988 at defensive tackle and finished his career there with 21 sacks, 354 tackles, and a consensus All-American. The 1989 draft was extremely deep, and although Rocker won the Outland and Lombardi Awards in 1988, it wouldn’t be until the 3rd round when the Washington Redskins called his name.

He started in 10 games his rookie season clogging up the running lanes, with his solid- if not unspectacular play, and recorded one fumble. It was good enough to earn him All-Rookie honors that year. In 1990 Tracy had 3.5 sacks in an injury shortened 7 game season. Tracy had a training camp battle with Darryl Grant and then suffered an injury. It became a game of numbers on the deep Redskins roster that Rocker ended up losing. A few teams gave him a look over, including the Dolphins, but did not make an offer.

Tracy was contacted by the fledgling WLAF in 1992. The Orlando Thunder, (who had a prolific offense but a feast or famine defense,) selected Rocker with their first round pick. He was eager to show that he still had what it took and to return to the NFL level, no matter what path he needed to take. During training camp though he slipped untouched on wet grass, and injured his knee.  Doctors later determined that Tracy needed arthroscopic knee surgery. It didn’t take long and by April, -two months after being drafted, Rocker was cut by the Thunder.

Rocker loves football, and decided to go into coaching defense and defensive line starting at the high school level that year. Tracy then moved on and has seen stints at: West Alabama, Troy State, Cincinnati, Arkansas, and Ole Miss. Eventually Tracy made his way back to his Alma Mater, Auburn, in 2009 remaining there through 2011. Rocker has also participated in the NFL coaching minority fellowship with the Colts (01) and Bucs (06). At this time, he’s returned to the pro ranks and currently coaches defensive line for the Tennessee Titans.

Despite not being successful as a player at the professional football level, Tracy Rocker is a great example of somebody who has really dug deep and overcame obstacles and adversity. Tracy was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

G/Gs 24/17   Tac N/a    Sac 3.5    Int  0   Yds  0   Avg -.-   Td 0   Lg -.-