Tag Archives: New England Patriots

Welker, Wes ‘The Natural’

Card: Score 2009
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Home
Sent:  5/23    Received:   6/4     (12 days)

Wes Welker was a prolific slot man that played in the NFL from 2004-2015. Going undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2004, Welker had developed quite a reputation as a stellar return man and do-it-all offensive weapon for the Red Raiders, tying an NCAA record with 8 punt returns for touchdowns.

Welker signed with the San Diego Chargers, but was cut after the first game of the season to make room for another player. He’d catch on with the Dolphins who used him on kick and punt return duties. It’s there he’d burn the New England Patriots who took note of his unique skillset. As the anemic Dolphin offense continued to struggle, Welker went from being on the chopping block, to becoming the life blood of the offense. Opting not to resign Wes initially after the 2006 season, Welker became a restricted free agent.  That’s when the Patriots pounced.

Offering the required 2nd round tender, New England stripped their bitter rival of their best offensive weapon. Wes went on to become quarterback Tom Brady’s most reliable target. Over the next 6 seasons, Wes racked up 672 receptions for 7459 yards and 37 touchdowns- including a 99 yarder. In 5 of those seasons he had 110+ receptions, leading the league three times in 2007 (112), 2009 (123), and 2011 (122).  From 2008-2012 Welker earned ProBowl honors, with his 2009 and 2011 seasons earning him All Pro.

Facing a quandary after the 2013 season, the Patriots were unable to come to terms with Welker to keep him in New England. To top things off, he signed with the newly retooled Denver Broncos to be Peyton Manning‘s go to guy, but Wes got the concussion bug.

You see the NFL had decided to finally take a more aggressive stance on the issue, and Welker’s size and fearlessness in the slot lent him to take shots regularly to the head. He’d play the 2013 and 2014 seasons for the Broncos and a final swan song for the St. Louis Rams in 2015. Although he didn’t want to retire, most teams saw his injury proneness as a liability, so in a sense Wes was forced to retire.

In 2017, Welker returned to the NFL scene. He was quickly courted by the Houston Texans during the Senior Bowl in Mobile and named as an offensive assistant where he is reunited with his former coach Bill O’Brien and a host of other former Patriots. It is thought that at this time he will provide assistance coaching the Texans’ wide receiver corps and break down film.

When I saw that Wes Welker was signing via a few websites I follow that track autograph returns from players, I didn’t hesitate at quickly sending him out two of my favorite cards- Score 2009, and Donruss Rookies & Stars 2009 Gold. Now,  I did only get the Score 2009 back and Wes personalized it, but I always point out that personalization doesn’t bother me, and that I am happy getting one rather than none. Maybe he really liked that Donruss Rookies & Stars 2009 as much as I did!

G/GS 175/102    REC 903     YDS 9925    AVG 11.0    TD 50    LG 99T
KR  183     YDS 4138      AVG 22.6   TD 1   LG 95T
PR 264      YDS 2584      AVG 9.8       TD 0   LG 71

Wilson, Curtis

Card: ProSet WLAF 1991
Acquired: TTM 2015, C/o Home
Sent: 3/6/15   Received: 3/16/15  (10 days)

Curtis Wilson was a difficult player to track down- but with a bit of effort I was able to find him connecting a few dots. Wilson’s son plays football in Curtis’ footsteps. This gave me a tip leading me to a small town in Oklahoma. Cross referencing that information to Curtis’ data on his ProSet WLAF card cinched the deal. Curtis was the last player from the original ProSet WLAF 1991 set that I needed from the Sacramento Surge.

Curtis Wilson was originally drafted out of Missou by the New England Patriots in 1989. At Missouri, Curtis distinguished himself as a leader on the line when he was voted co-offensive captain as a Senior. His skillset, speed (4.95 40) and size (6’3″, 273) allowed him to play a variety of positions on the line. After being cut by New England shortly before the start of the ’89 season, he’d be selected in the 3rd round of the WLAF positional draft by the Sacramento Surge.

While the Surge had a difficult 1991 season finishing a dismal 2-8, Wilson was one of the up and coming stars of the offense. He’d help pave the way for Sacramento’s rushing attack from the Center position as both Paul Frazier and Victor Floyd averaged over 4 yards a carry in 1991.  He’d earn second team All-World Honors from the league.

Before the 1992 WLAF draft began, the Surge traded draft positions with the Ohio Glory to move up to the #1 overall spot. Sacramento traded the Glory Curtis in the exchange. The move represented the first trade in league history.  Unfortunately Curtis was injured during training camp and was lost for a good portion of the 1992 season.

Curtis included a nice note with his autographed card and wrote “God Bless You!”, on the back of his card next to his player profile picture.

Hill, Austin

leaf15 ahill sage15 ahill

Cards: Leaf Draft Metal 2015, Sage 2015
Acquired: 2016, Box Breaker

His Sophomore season was a breakout year at Arizona, as Austin Hill had 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns. Unfortunately he tore his ACL, going down in the second-to-last practice of the spring. After he returned in 2014, his numbers fell to 48 receptions for 630 yards and 4 TDs.  Concern lingered into the draft about his knee, and Austin went undrafted.

Austin has kept the dream alive, and his agent must be commended for how he’s kept Hill in the face of executives and scouts. He has been on the rosters of no less than 5 teams including the Raiders, Jets, Patriots, and the CFL Ottawa Redblacks. He became a fan favorite on NFL’s Hard Knocks with the Los Angeles Rams at his last and most recent stop, with his pure love for the game and his daughter.  He was among the final cuts made by the team, but may make an impression on an NFL team’s practice squad somewhere.