Tag Archives: NFL MVP 1988

Esiason, Norman “Boomer”


Cards: Score 1990 Hot Gun, Action Packed Rookies 1992.
Acquired: TTM 2011, C/o CBS Sports. TTM 2017, C/o The Esiason Foundation*
Sent: 5/23/2011   Received: 8/4/2012 (423 days) STAMPS
Sent: 12/20/2017  Received: 1/8/2018 (18 days)
* Donation included

So here’s an infamous example of an autopen or stamp. A really underwhelming ‘success’ from the Cincinnati Bengals’ greatest quarterback since Ken Anderson, I wrote to Boomer Esiason C/o CBS Sports in 2011. 423 days later I got these two ‘autographs’ back. It was obvious that they were facsimiles. I sat on this post for 6 years or so, annoyed that he stamped my cards and that he made me wait over a year to get them back. To further the insult, many fans were getting these obvious stamps and accepting them as legitimate. Then I started to see a slow trickle in of Boomers and had a good feeling that they were for real. Finally at the end of 2017 I shot these two out with a small donation and waited.  At long last I can remove those black eye stamps from the collection. For points and purposes, I have included the fakes in this post so that they can be identified easily. Note the thin pen and consistent weight. The facsimiles even both match from card to card, down to the dot on the ‘i’. So painful to look at…

I have been really impressed with how far Boomer has come as a broadcaster since retiring, and after the fervor erupted over him as a Monday Night Football commentator, Esiason was ousted and retreated to in studio work and radio where he has really honed his skills.  He technically began his commentating career along with Warren Moon and Dan Marino as color analysts for WLAF games on USA Network back in 1991.

A rarity in NFL drafts, no quarterback came off the board during the first round of the 1984 draft. Boomer Esiason would be the first, with the 38th pick of round 2. A very strong draft, Wilber Marshall, Dean Steinkuhler, Irving Fryar, Keith Millard, Carl Banks, Greg Bell, and Bill Maas, were among the recognizable names taken before Esiason. It is safe to say that just with these players alone, the 1984 draft helped form the backbone in depth and classic names through the early 1990s.  The pretty boy with golden hair, Boomer was a prolific passer for the quarterback manufacturing school, the University of Maryland.  While there he’d set 17 school records, and is considered by many to be the greatest and most recognizable Terrapin of all time. (The Washington Federals of the competing USFL drafted Boomer as well, but could not mount an offer that surpassed the Bengals.) With a mouth that always found the microphone, Boomer quickly established himself as a presence in the locker room as Ken Anderson entered his twilight years with the franchise. He was my arch nemesis in the classic AFC Central, and always put up big numbers and games against the Oilers. Ironically in his rookie season he started his first game against the Oilers, in which he guided Cincinnati to a 13-3 victory over Houston. It was head coach Sam Wyche’s first year, and he and Esiason’s fates would be tied at the hip to each other during their time in Cincinnati. With Wyche, a former quarterback himself and an apostle of the Bill Walsh West Coast System,  Boomer provided the new blood to reinvigorate the sagging Bengals franchise. Esiason became the face of the franchise as the team gave him playmakers in the shape of Anthony Munoz, James Brooks, Tim McGee, Eddie Brown, and Rodney Holman. With a lightning delivery and a devestating understanding of the innovative no-huddle offense (that Buffalo later employed full-time after witnessing the effectiveness of Esiason under center,) the Bengals quickly climbed the ranks of the AFC during the last days of the most brutal division in all of football. In 1986 he guided the Bengals to a 10-6 record throwing for a shade under 4,000 yards, and 24 touchdowns.  1988 saw the final ascension of the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII, where they lost to the 49ers in the last final minutes of play. It was Boomer’s most prolific season as a pro, with a 97.4 quarterback rating and he was named the NFL MVP.

By 1991 free agency, sacks, and injuries began to catch up to the Bengals. Esiason posted a 3-11 record as a starter and combined with new management, Sam Wyche was fired at the conclusion of the season. New ownership felt new blood was needed and rookie head coach David Shula (son of Dolphins head coach Don Shula) was brought on board to handle the team. Immediately he decided to fix the offense by letting many of the team’s playmakers go, and drafted  David Klingler to be the heir apparent to Boomer. The writing was clearly on the wall for Esiason, and after another mediocre year behind the Bengals patchwork line and bland new offense, he was unceremoniously traded to the New York Jets in 1993 for a third round pick.

As the starting quarterback for the Jets, he was able to give the offense a certain level of credibility over the next 3 tumultuous seasons under 3 different head coaches. Holding firm he posted an 84.5, 77.3, and a 71.3 quarterback rating over those seasons with the team. Despite having more touchdowns to interceptions in each of those seasons, the Jets slumped, and Esiason signed with the Cardinals, playing there one season in 1996.  In a game during that season over the Redskins he’d throw for 522 yards in a game, the third most in NFL history. 1997 proved to be Boomer’s final season, as he indeed proved you can return home, and came back to the Bengals. It was a great ending for him, coming in as a backup to Jeff Blake. After Blake succumbed to injury, and the franchise was sitting at a woeful 3-8, Esiason came in leading the charge, posting a 4-1 record over the next 5 games, and a 106.9 QB rating. He’d retire after the season, and is considered the most prolific left handed quarterback in NFL history.

In addition to his broadcasting and radio duties, Esiason spends much of his time with charity, and the Boomer Esiason Foundation, helping with research into Cystic Fibrosis.  You can visit his website at http://www.boomeresiason.com/index.htm.

G/Gs  187/173   Att 5205   Comp 2969    Yds  37920   Td  247    Int  184    Rat  81.1  |
Rush 447   Yds  1598    Avg  3.6     Td   7    Lg  24

Craig, Roger (2)

pset89 craigudldg97 craigflr90 craigpset90 craigflrsi99 craigsco90 craigud91 craig
Cards: Fleer 1990, Upper Deck 1991, Pro Set 1989, Pro Set 1990, Upper Deck Legends 1997, Score 1990, Fleer Sports Illustrated Legends 1999.
Acquired: TTM 2013, C/o Home
Sent: 1/2    Received:  1/7    (5 days)*
*signing fee $5 per card
See also: Roger Craig

Finally. Well the first line is cast and I already hooked a big one in the form of undervalued fullback/ runningback Roger Craig! Sending a check in excess of the fee request, netted me 2 extra autographs plus he was willing to answer the questions that I enclosed.

I’ve been trying to be a bit more wacky about what I ask players when I insert a question into a letter. First it makes me stick out, and second it might give them a good laugh. Roger disclosed to me that if he could’ve played for any other team besides the 49ers, Raiders, and Vikings he played for, he would have played for the Dallas Cowboys. Wow. Now that would’ve blown my mind to have seen him play in the silver and blue at the end of his career.  Back in his college days and his early playing days, Roger liked to sport a mean looking mustache. I asked him if he’d ever grow it back. To my surprise he answered that, “Yes, one day,” it will return and put a little smiley face next to it.  For my final question, I asked him what tree he would be, and he responded that, “He would’ve been an oak tree, because it is a very big and strong tree”.  – A great success in my books, and I was extremely surprised to have gotten it back so quickly. I knew that Roger had a very high response rate and that he was good to TTM fans, but this was a near legendary response from a player who should be in the Hall of Fame. Total class act. I was so jazzed about this one, I really am considering sending out 2nd shots to my favorite TTM successes at some point.

Some great cards here of Roger. It was very difficult to select which ones to send. I might have missed one or two cards, but overall these action shots really represent him well. Really have quickly grown fond of the 1997 Upper Deck Legends issue. The photos are great and they cover some really good players.  I vaguely remember that Roger’s Pro Set 1989 card/shot was so dynamic that it made the box. It’s too bad that Pro Set went up in smoke so quickly. It was the up close action shots like this that put Topps on the ropes early.

Craig, Roger

Cards: Pro Set 1991, Score 1990, Action Packed Rookies 1991
Acquired:  TTM 1993, C/o The Minnesota Vikings
See Also: Roger Craig (2)

Drafted by the 49ers out of Nebraska in the 2nd round of the 1983 draft, Roger Craig originally played fullback. Probably one of the most balanced runningbacks of the late modern era, Roger was a good runner, great pass blocker, and an amazing receiver. In 1985 he was named to his first Pro Bowl after leading the NFL with 92 receptions- the only time a fullback has ever done that, and also in that same season he became the first player to rush and receive over 1000 yards in the same season. In 1987, Roger moved to runningback, and was named to the ProBowl again and became the first player to be named to the ProBowl as both a runningback and a fullback. The following season Craig would lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2036 yards, and win ProBowl and AP honors. He’d also win offensive player of the year honors. 1989 would be Craig’s last impact 1000 yard season, and by 1990 injuries would begin to shorten his career.

In 1991, Craig would sign with Ronnie Lott via Plan B to the Los Angeles Raiders starting 13 games. He’d leave again in 1992 and play his final 2 season for the Minnesota Vikings, where I got his autograph in 1993 on these 3 cards.  Roger is a perennial winner amazingly playing in the playoffs all 13 seasons of his career and was elected to the All 1980s NFL team. Another player who has gotten the shaft from the HoF, Roger Craig has not been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, despite having 3 SuperBowl rings and over 13000 yards from scrimmage.

If you want Roger’s autograph, it’s a 5-15 dollar charge per card now for it typically TTM. He’s a great signer however, and I’ve heard of fans sending him 5 or 6 cards for the fee and him having no problem signing that. At a later date when I have a job, and money, -Roger is on my short list to reconnect to.

G/Gs 165/133     Rush  1991         Yds  8189       Avg   4.1   Td   56    Lg  71    |
Rec  566    Yds 4911    Avg  8.7    Td  17      Lg  73