Lewis Tillman is another member of the solid 1989 NFL Draft Class. Graduating from Jackson St, Tillman was a two time I-AA All-America, breaking Walter Payton’s single season rushing (1,436 yards) and career rushing record with 3,969 yards. Tillman was selected in the 3rd round by the New York Giants, who collected runningbacks for their offensive rotation.
Lewis finished his rookie season with 79 carries for 290 yards as the Giants won Super Bowl XXV. He’d score his first professional TD in 1990, during a 31-7 win over the Rams. The Giants continued to employ Lewis consistently, but sparingly in 1991. He’d rush for another 287 yards on 65 carries. After a quiet 1992, Tillman had 585 yards and 3 TDs including a career long 58 yard long run.
Lewis signed with the Bears in 1994. He’d have the best season of his career. He’d set across the board personal highs with 275 carries for 899 yards and 7 TDs to go along with 27 receptions for 222 yards. He wouldn’t be able to duplicate his feat in 1995- as the Bears drafted Rashaan Salaam in the 1st round. Buried on the depth chart behind Salaam and Robert Green, Tillman retired after the conclusion of the season.
Tillman has enjoyed a fine career after his playing days. He’s gone into coaching and has climbed to the college level. Currently in 2019 he’s a coach for the Texas Southern Tigers.
Great cards of Lewis here, but I really would’ve loved to have gotten his autograph on his Score 1990 entry, but he must have really liked it and didn’t have it for his collection, as he kept it. A solid TTM repsonder, I loved getting his autograph on these cards nonetheless.
Card: Sage 2017 Acquired: 2017, Box Breaker. 2019, San Antonio Commanders v San Diego Fleet
A classic road mauler, Damien Mama played guard at USC and clocked in at a whopping 6’3″, 342. A second team PAC 12 selection in 2016, he’d declare early for the 2017 NFL draft, but go unselected. He’d sign as a free agent with the Chiefs and eventually land on their practice squad. Later in 2017, the Giants signed him to their roster- but Damien was released in mid-2018. He’d join the Cowboys in training camp, but again be waived in final cuts.
I found out that Damien was playing in The Alliance of American Football for the San Diego Fleet, so I packed a card of him for the first game of the season. He was practicing with Marc Bercovici before the game and decided to come over and sign some autographs in the visitor’s end zone. A super nice guy, Damien’s sleeve tattoos are even more amazing up close.
Mama was shifted from guard to center for the Fleet for the opening day game against the Commanders. Despite his best efforts the Fleet were overwhelmed by San Antonio and surrendered 6 sacks.
Throughout the season Mama’s play improved and the team finished in 4th place giving up just 19 sacks in 8 games. The Fleet themselves as an offensive unit finished 3rd in the league in total yardage and second in passing yardage.
Currently with the dissolution of the league, Damien is a free agent but could find a home in the XFL 2020.
Cards: Topps AAF 2019, Topps AAF 2019 Certified Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, EBay 2019 Sent: 4/11 Received: 5/3 (22 days)
When the different AAF groups were talking about what players they were impressed by, I was surprised that they brought up the lumber laying Orion Stewart. He was apparently really impressing in camp for the Commanders. He quickly proved to me during that first game what a force he was for SA in the secondary, laying down the law against the Fleet. In that first game he hauled in a pick, deflected two passes, and made 6 tackles. At the end of the game, he and a gaggle of players came over to the visitor’s endzone and mugged my sister and me for hugs… well primarily my sister- but still it was a great memory to make- and Stewart became one of my favorite players.
Orion was a 3 time All-Big 12 safety at Baylor, playing in 49 games while starting 36 of them. He recorded 12 interceptions over his time playing for the Bears, and ended up third on the school charts with 227 career interception return yards.
Stewart was not selected in the 2016 NFL Draft- and saw brief stops with the Broncos, Redskins, Giants, and Bills. In 2018 he signed with the Commanders and he and Derron Smith made the most fearsome safety duo in the league. He also came up with a nickname for the secondary (- which was one of the league leaders in creating turnovers), calling their group “Area 51”. In fact at the last game, I brandished a homemade sign with it on there as well.
After the league collapsed, Orion signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. He signed his base card in 22 days- which was a day after his certified arrived in the mail. I got an incredible deal on the certified autograph. I got 4 for about half the price of a hobby box, and a hobby box typically comes with 3 autographs, so you do the math.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.