Tag Archives: oakland raiders

Cook, Connor

Cards: Panini Contenders 2016 GameDay, Panini Contenders 2016 Passing Grades, Leaf Draft 2016, Leaf Draft 2016 All-American, Score 2016 ScoreCard, Panini Elite 2016, Topps XFL 2020, Panini Prism 2015, Panini Draft 2015
Acquired: IP 2019, Houston Roughnecks Fan Meet & Greet.
TTM 2020, C/o Home
Sent: 7/3 Received: 7/24 (21 days)

Connor Cook was a 3 year starter for the Michigan State Spartans. He played college ball there from from 2011 to 2015, and saw action in 43 games, passing for 9,184 yards and 71 TDs to 22 interceptions. Cook was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Raiders saw value selecting him and decided to groom Cook behind incumbent quarterback Derek Carr.

He was pressed into his first starting duty- a grinder of a game against the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2016 Playoffs. The Raiders fell 27-14, as Cook threw for 161 yards and a TD to 3 interceptions. Connor saw no action in 2017 and was cut in 2018 after the Raiders traded for AJ McCarron.

Connor spent the next year on and off the rosters of the Panthers, Bengals and Lions. He was selected in the first round of the XFL 2020 Draft by the Houston Roughnecks. I sort of questioned the move considering the Roughnecks already had Philip Walker allocated to the team, but coach June Jones insisted that he was picking the best player available with NFL experience.

I pulled every card I had of Connor and added 2 or 3 more hoping to get Connor’s autograph during the season. Luck was on my side as the Roughnecks frequently put together fan events.

The Roughnecks put together an event in the Woodlands where they had Connor Cook and Sammie Coates at. It was a no brainer. I was going to call it a success if I could get 2 or 3 cards signed- but in the end I was able to get all 5 knocked out along with a stack of cards of Sammie as well.

The event itself went well. The players were friendly and approachable. Connor talked to me one on one for a few minutes. We talked about briefly about the AAF and how it failed before he had to go up on stage. There Connor really shined, with a quick wit and clever smile. Afterwards both he and Sammie signed more autographs for fans. I was able to get them both on posters before I headed back out.

Of this group, the Panini Contenders cards really stood out. I love the Gameday cards. I wasn’t really fond of either of the Leaf entries, but the Score Scorecard makes up for the Leaf cards trite design.

Well the quarterback competition between Cook and Walker apparently went down to the wire. In the end PJ was named starting quarterback of the Roughnecks. I really had hoped to see more of Connor, but PJ played lights out the entire way. Still I think Connor has the prospects of being one of the brighter stars in a spring league if he decides to try that route again.

I got a few more cards of his after being caught flat footed at the Roughnecks season ticket holder event, but the cards, ordered 2 weeks before the league shut down- didn’t arrive until after 2 months after the league shut down. Still that gave me a chance to add his Topps XFL 2020 card to the batch, which really pushed him up on my list of players I wanted to get an autograph from thru. I really liked how the Elite cards were designed in 2016 as well. The abstract design is actually really smart as the lines all cross artistic points of emphasis. It’s a beautiful card, but like many the distribution kills my interest in making this one a set to collect. I’m not very hot on the gaudy Prism set, but I liked the die cut helmet one enough as it is eye catching.

Neal, Rajion

Card: Topps AAF 2019
Acquired: 2019, Box Breaker

Rajion Neal played runningback for the Tennessee Volunteers program from 2010-2013. Displaying an interesting skillset, Neal showed great hands and versatility playing runningback, Wildcat, and wide receiver. He finished with 444 carries for 2163 yards and 19 TDs, along with 66 catches for 626 yards and 5 TDs for Tennessee.

Undrafted, Rajion has seen time criss-crossing the North American continent in 3 different leagues. As a practice squad member, Neal has seen time with the Packers, Dolphins, Raiders, Steelers, and Browns in the NFL, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.

He’d join the Memphis Express of the AAF in 2019 and make the squad, but be cut after two games. finishing with 8 carries for 15 yards, and 4 receptions for 10 yards. Rajion returned to the Tiger-Cats of the CFL but did not make the squad.

McRae, Charles

Cards: Action Packed Rookies 1991, Star Pics 1991
Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home
Sent: 3/23/19 Received: 8/13/19 (143 days)

Charles McRae played college ball at Tennessee from 1987-1990. For the first two years with the Volunteers, he played defensive line. McRae then joined the offensive line for 1989 and 1990 playing tackle. In his final year at Tennessee he earned Offensive Lineman of the Year Awards from NFL Draft Report- singled out for his outstanding blocking both against the run and pass. Charles also stood out (6’7″) on special teams blocking 5 kicks over his time at Knoxville.

He’d be selected in the first round (8th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The problem is the Bucs already had a left tackle in All Pro Paul Gruber– so Charles was moved to right tackle playing in all 16 games and starting 4 his rookie year. He’d play his first full 16 game slate in 1992. In 1994, Tampa shifted Charles to left guard for a season, starting 10 games. After the 1995 season, he spent one nondescript season on the Raiders before retiring.

After earning his Masters’ at Tennessee, Charles has spent his time as an executive in the medical field specializing in radiology.

I really like the presentation of his Action Packed Rookies card in what was definitely a set need. I threw these cards up with a hope and a prayer they’d come back. Charles was kind enough to sign these classic cards of his.