Tag Archives: nashville katz

Brown, James

utud11 brownCard: Upper Deck University of Texas 2011
Acquired: Spoodog Box Break, 2015
Failure: TTM 2011, C/o Home

James Brown is one of my favorite quarterbacks from my time growing up watching UT football.  I remember when one of the local news channels showed a high school highlight reel of Brown running down the sideline in Beaumont.  I knew he was the real deal. When he joined the Longhorns I remember sitting in my High School cafeteria telling my friends that James Brown was going to be the next big thing. It didn’t exactly start that way for James.

After redshirting in 1993, he battled encumbent quarterback Shea Morenz for the majority of 1994.  He’d solidify his starting role under head coach John Mackovic, with a comeback Sun Bowl win over North Carolina- ironically over future Texas head coach Mack Brown.  With the impending death of the SWC, Brown led the Longhorns to the final conference title and a 10-2 record in 1995.  As Texas joined the new and flashy Big 12 for 1996, they stumbled out of the gate early, but recovered in time to face defending National Champion Nebraska for the league championship. There would be his signature moment, in a stunning upset over Nebraska 30-27, with the infamous Roll Left play on 4th down, deep in their own territory.  Although Brown did not see the same success in an injury plagued Senior season, it did culminate with him being named MVP of the Blue Gray Senior Bowl.  James Brown paved the way for future black quarterbacks (Vince Young) to start at Texas, and at the time of his departure from the school held numerous passing records.

terminatorsBack then in 1997 there wasn’t really the farm system in place at Texas to get every prospect to the NFL level. It also didn’t help Brown that a tsunami of bad karma hit James in his final year at UT, along with the fact he was considered undersized to play the position (6’0″).

Keeping his football dreams alive,  James played a preseason in the CFL with the British Columbia Lions in 1998.  He’d then become the marquee player of the IPFL, playing for the Texas Terminators based in Austin during 1999.  The Terminators played at the Livestock and Rodeo arena at the edge of town, a non-air conditioned arena sarcastically known as ‘The Barn’.

james brownDuring the Terminators slaughter of the Colorado Crush that season, I caught one of the footballs as it bounced out of bounds. Afterwards I bought a James Brown jersey, that I still have along with the football till this day.  Brown earned Offensive Player of the Year Honors, as the team finished with the best record,  and played in the league championship.

ipflJames jumped at the opportunity to play for the Arena Football League the following year, joining the Nashville Kats.  He’d play with the team through 2001, and the preseason for the Georgia Force in 2002, and after a short stint in NFLE with the Scottish Claymores, returned to finish the season on the roster of the San Jose Sabrecats of the Arena Football League. The Georgia Force in 2003 resigned Brown again, but after only a few games, James went back to the NFLE to join the Claymores, but instead ended up on roster of the Frankfurt Galaxy. He played in the two-headed QB rotation with Quinn Gray, as the team won World Bowl IX. He played a third time with the Georgia Force in 2004 when he decided to hang up his cleets. James felt the urge to play again, and after the All American Football League folded before it even got off the ground, he played one final season for the CenTex Barracudas of the Intense Football League, guiding the team to the playoffs.

James has been a coach for a few years now, both at the high school and college level. He coached at Lamar University for a few years, and in 2014 became head coach at Sunnyside HS in Houston, Tx.

jersey brownI emailed James in 2011 at Lamar University to ask him if he could sign some memorabilia for me. A few months later he responded giving me his address and telling me to send it there. I gleefully put the cards in the mail, along with photos of his James Brown jersey, and an SASE. I never heard back from him again. A few months went by and I emailed him, but still never heard back. Recently I had a conversation with another collector who reported a similar result.  I was pretty disheartened.  Luckily at the card break that I had, one of my fellow collectors hit this card, so I pulled the trigger to make the trade and grab this card.

 

Fears, Willie

jo93 fearsCards: Wild Card WLAF 1992, Jogo 1995
Acquired: TTM 2014, C/o Home
Sent: 1/7       Received: 1/16    (9 days)

Willie Fears took a strange,winding, inspiring route, to his dreams of being a professional football player and coach. Undrafted out of Northwestern Louisiana St in 1985, Willie played 5 games for the Ottawa Rough Riders in the CFL.  Invited to the Miami Dolphins minicamp, he showed up admittedly out of shape and had to put his career on hold.  He became a corrections officer at the Arkansas State Maximum Security Prison, but along came the NFL Players Strike in 1987. At 6’4″, 280, Fears had the frame to still play, and probably had the greatest vacation time ever from work, spending 3 weeks as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. Afterwards he went back to the CFL, playing for both Ottawa and Toronto in 1988 and 1989, before returning again to the NFL in 1990 as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

Willie was then drafted by the WLAF San Antonio Riders in 1992. Willie’s technical precision, skillset, and size, allowed the team to shift him into any of the 3 places on the line, which was invaluable to the Riders 3-4 alignment. An experienced force on the line, he proved difficult for offensive linemen to handle, and helped the Riders be one of the staunchest defenses in the league.  After the league went on hiatus, Willie begun a career playing in the Arena Football League. He’d sign with the Cleveland Thunderbolts and played for them through the 1993 season, before hopping back into the CFL with the Sacramento Gold Miners. In 1994 the Gold Miners moved to San Antonio and became the Texans. He’d join them there back in his old stomping grounds. Afterwards, Fears joined the AFL again, playing in 1996 for the Tampa Bay Storm, and then in 1997 for the Nashville Katz.

wcwlaf92 fearsHe then continued his dream by becoming a football coach.  In the ArenaFootball2 league, he’d coach with the Arkansas Twisters for 3 seasons, before joining Jay Gruden on the Predators to coach the linemen. Ironically, later Pat O’Hara, joined the staff replacing Gruden as head coach. Pat was a member of the Ohio Glory and probably felt Willie breathing down his neck more than once during the Riders 17-0 stomping of the Glory back in 1992. Fears remained with the Predators through 2011. Currently he lives in Arkansas. My first success from the Meiselman 2014 list, I had been looking for Willie for quite sometime, and had been unable to locate him since his stint ended with the Predators. He was kind enough to not only sign the Wild Card WLAF 1992 card I enclosed, but like Billy Hess also enclosed one of his own from the Jogo 1995 set. Unfortunately both of the autographs were smudged as he signed with an overhead Vis-A-Vis instead of a Sharpie. The Riders card was smudged beyond recognition, so I resent it back out with a team photo of him and the other linemen for Willie to keep. He sent it back in about 2 weeks signed with the marker I gave him.

AFL    Tac  46     Sac 9    FF 2    Int  0   Yds   0   Avg  -.-   Td 0   Lg -.-
WLAF  Tac   N/a    Sac   2   FF  0    Int 0   Yds 0   Avg -.-   Td 0  Lg -.-
NFL  2     Tac  N/a    Sac 0   FF 0   Int  0  Yds 0   Avg -.-   Td 0  Lg -.-
CFL  N/a

 

Dodson, Tony

Autograph Memorabilia
Stampede Inaugural Magazine Austin Wranglers
Acquired: Gift 2004

My cousin got me a game program full of autographs back in 2004, that I found recently when digging through some boxes.

Dodson was another AFL2 veteran who made the jump to the AFL with the Austin Wranglers in 2004. Dodson would play one season with the Wranglers hitting 84 of 97 extra points and 8 of 18 field goals. He’d jump to the Nashville Katz in 2005 making 7 of 23 field goals including a long of 56 before retiring after the season.