Keith Elias was the most prolific runningback to come out of the Ivy League since…. Ed Marinaro. At Princeton he shattered many of the school and league single season and career rushing marks from 1991-1993. At the time of his departure from the school, Elias held 4 I-AA records and 21 school career records including: rushing (4,208 yards), rushing touchdowns (49), yards rushing per game (140.3), carries (736), carries per game (24.5), yards per carry (5.72), all-purpose yards (4,739), overall touchdowns (52) and points (320).
After going unselected primarily due to the prevailing small school stigma, Keith signed with the nearby New York Giants as a free agent in 1994. He made the squad but after getting injured early in the season, he saw little playing time. Facing a stacked roster in 1995, Elias made the team based on his preseason performance and willingness to play special teams, endearing him to fans. He climbed the depth chart in 1996 and looked to be the team’s primary scatback on 3rd downs- but injuries again hindered his season.
Keith picked back up playing football in 1998 this time with a change of scenery playing for the Indianapolis Colts as a back up and special teams captain, moonlighting on returns. He’d be cut in 2000, and join the XFL New York /New Jersey Hitmen in the XFL that year, before retiring.
Topps XFL 2000 set was frankly- gaudy looking, but the certified autographs in there were just horrifically designed. My friend Joe, from a Facebook group I manage popped this in the mail to me as a gift, which I thought was really nice. Although I was not needing this autograph, I am more than happy to accept it into my collection as every player has a story to tell.
Card: Sage 2014 Acquired: 2016, Box Breaker See Also: Kareem Martin
Kareem Martin slowly blossomed into his game after he transitioned to outside linebacker in the pros. He saw limited playtime early in his career in Arizona, starting 10 games at outside linebacker and defensive end in 2017. He finished the season with 23 combined tackles, 2 tackles for losses, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception and 3 pass deflections. The Giants snapped up Kareem during free agency and penciled him in as a starter at outside linebacker in their revamped defense. He finished 2018 with 48 combined tackles, 2 pass deflections, 1.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, and 10 quarterback hits in 7 starts. Martin was injured during week 1 of the 2019 campaign, and was cut at the end of the season. During 2020, Kareem was a depth signee by the Detroit Lions, seeing brief action with the team but not recording any stats. Currently he’s a free agent.
Card: Topps AAF 2019 Acquired: TTM 2020, C/o The St. Louis Battlehawks Sent: 2/18 Received: 2/29 (11 days) Failure: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Tim Lewis was an imposing defensive back out of Pittsburgh. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with their 1st round pick in 1983. Lewis’ career was off to an incredible start. He started just 7 games in his rookie year at right corner, but recorded 5 interceptions for 111 yards while forcing 3 fumbles. In 1984 Tim returned a pick 99 yards for a TD, en route to adding 7 more interceptions on his resume, and 4 more the following year in 1985. It’d be then that Lewis’ football playing career came to an end during 1986, when he suffered a terrible neck injury against the Bears.
In 1987, Tim went into coaching, first at Texas A&M, then later at SMU, Pitt and then back into the pro ranks with the Steelers in 1995. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2000 with Pittsburgh, then joined the Giants in that same capacity from 2004-2006. Since that time, he saw stops with the Panthers, Seahawks, Falcons, and 49ers.
2019 was an interesting year in football. With the Alliance of American Football on the radar, Tim took the coaching reins of the Birmingham Iron. They’d finish 5-3, as only the second team to clench a playoff berth in the short lifespan of the AAF. The team very much reflected Tim’s style with a smash mouth defense that begrudgingly gave up yards.
Unable to get his autograph through his home address, I sent this card to the Battlehawks where he was coaching the defensive backs of that solid squad, before COVID wiped out the XFL in 2020.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.