Card: Topps AAF 2019 Acquired: IP 2019, San Antonio Commanders v The Arizona Hotshots
Lost in the JUCO shuffle to SMU, cornerback Sterling Moore went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.
He’d sign with the Oakland Raiders, and then end up on the roster of the Patriots that year. Called up to active play from the practice squad, Sterling helped New England in a pinch make the Super Bowl that year. Sterling returned to the practice squad in 2012, but was snapped up by the Dallas Cowboys. Sterling again saw some emergency time over the next year or so before earning a role as the team’s nickelback. In 2015, Moore signed with the Bucs, and saw a mix of playing time starting at corner and also as the nickelback, starting 8 contests. After a quick pitstop with the Bills, Sterling spent the next year and a half with the New Orleans Saints. He’d start a career high 12 games, recording 2 picks, 56 total tackles, and 13 pass deflections in 2016. Sterling signed with the Detroit Lions in 2018, but did not make the squad.
Moore joined the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance in early 2019. He’d record 7 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble and 23 total tackles in 8 starts.
Sterling came over during warmups when he realized I had a card and signed this one for me. After the Commanders game ended, I gave him one to keep which he really appreciated.
That’d be the last game in AAF history, but Sterling was later selected in the 2019 XFL draft by the Seattle Dragons during the defensive back portion, with their final overall pick.
Cards: Action Packed 1991, Topps Finest Chrome Field Generals 1995 Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Charity Sent: 5/21/18 Received: 1/5/19 (229 days) Failure: TTM 2012, C/o The Hoss Foundation
Jeff Hostetler played football collegiality in 1979 and 1980 for the Penn State Nittany Lions. There he posted 319 yards on 24 of 59 passing throwing 1 TD to 2 interceptions but was beat out by future first round pick Todd Blackledge to the starting quarterback job. He’d transfer to West Viginia in 1982 and work his way into Mountaineer lore. He’d throw for 1798 yards and 10 TDs in 1982, and then 2247 yards and 14 TDs in 1983. Although not a gifted scrambler Jeff was solid out of play action and had a solid arm to boot. He’d be selected by the New York Giants in the 3rd round of the 84 draft.
Thanks in part to Phil Simms durability, Jeff pretty much never saw the field for the first 5 seasons of his career (outside of special teams). – Not to mention the fact that he was 3rd string. He saw his first action in 1988, with some mop up duty and then later starting in a win over the Saints. While his numbers on the season weren’t amazing , Hoss showed enough promise that he took over the primary backup role for Phil in 1989. He saw some starting duty again that season, as the Giants made the playoffs, but were bounced by the LA Rams.
The Giants came back the next season (1990) and were firing on all cylinders towards the playoffs, but in the 14th contest of the season, Phil went down with a season ending foot injury. Hoss came in, and although they lost the game, he guided them to a win in their next two contests to finish 13-3 on the year and into the playoffs. The Giants used a ball control offense to pummel the Bears 31-3, squeak by the 49ers dynasty 15-13, and into Super Bowl XXV.
Considered by myself to be one of the finest Super Bowls ever, the Giants ground out a 20-19 win over the Buffalo Bills. Jeff himself completed 20 of 32 passes for 222 yards and a TD in New York’s win.
After the win head coach Bill Parcells retired suddenly. His replacement Ray Handley announced a quarterback competition between Hostetler and Simms before the 1991 season. Surprising many, Hoss won the competition, but suffered a season ending injury during the 12th game of the year. The following season- again- Handley announced a quarterback competition. This time Simms won but got injured only after 4 starts. Hostetler came in and played well but also suffered an injury as well. Hoss’ time was up in New York after the season. He’ sign with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1993.
As the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Raiders, Hostetler led the Raiders to 10 wins, and threw for a then career highs in almost all categories (236/419, 3242 yards and 14 TDs). The following year in 1994, he’d again set career highs with attempts (455), completions (263), yards (3334), and TDs (20)- earning his first and only Pro Bowl appearance. Jeff transitioned with the Raiders to Oakland in 1995, and although he did throw for 23 TDs in 1996, injuries kept adding extra wear to the grizzled veteran. He signed with the Redskins in 1997, and returned to the role of clutch backup quarterback, retiring after the 1998 season.
Jeff has his own charity- The Hoss Foundation, and after failing on him during my first attempt in 2012, even though I sent a donation, I sort of was so stung by it time just flew by until I got back around to him again in 2018.
His heroics in Super Bowl XXV still stick out in my mind, and this beautiful Action Packed 1991 card frames it so well. Jeff’s autograph isn’t bad either with the way the ‘J’ crosses the ‘H’ it definitely feels like a real autograph. In 2019, Jeff was named to the preliminary anniversary list of nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Anniversary.
Cards: Topps AAF 2019, Topps Now 2.17.19, Topps Now 2.25.19, Topps Now 3.23.19 Acquired: IP 2019, Fozzy Whittaker and Garrett Gilbert Football Camp
This event completely exceeded my expectations. Since it was raining, the event was held indoors at the Del Valle Sports Complex right next to the stadium. Instead of running through too many drills, Garrett and Fozzy ended up playing something with the kids that I hadn’t seen before but was total genius: Ultimate Football. It was fun and entertaining to watch. If this is what the XFL has in mind for their overtime periods, it looks like an exciting way to end a game.
Afterwards, Garrett and Fozzy set up autograph tables and signed everything for everyone- and I mean everything. If I had only won that last Topps AAF Now card of Garrett’s I would have run the table- but as it is I am happy that he signed these 4 cards. In fact he signed the 4 plus all the additional copies I had of the Topps AAF 2019 base cards that I ended up giving away to all my hobby friends/ contacts- with the stipulation that they send Garrett a thank-you note.
I also got to finally meet one of my new proteges in person- Mark, and we talked for a few minutes about the hobby before disembarking for the afternoon. It was a very successful time, and I did get to talk to Garrett briefly about the AAF.
Garrett is the son of former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert. He was highly recruited coming out of high school and reminded many teams of the Oliver Luck- Andrew Luck connection. Texas was ecstatic to get him and groomed him to be Colt McCoy’s heir when he left UT. Things don’t necessarily go as planned, and as UT was still in its prime fans were expecting another title run. UT worked its way through the schedule in 2009, and fought its way into national title contention. It was a big game against Alabama, and Colt McCoy was singlehandedly giving Alabama a run for its money- but then he got injured. Garrett who was a Freshman came in, and while he did give Alabama a fight for its money initially- he turned the ball over 5 times and Texas lost the game. It was not the best situation for Garrett to get his first meaningful game time.
Things were optimistic going into 2010, and Gilbert was named starting QB at Texas, but the team slipped to 5-7- Texas’ first losing record in over 10 years. Fans were calling already for Mack Brown’s head, so the head coach put every job up for grabs including quarterback. Garrett lost out in camp in 2011 to David Ash and Case McCoy. Nursing a shoulder injury he decided to transfer out of Texas.
Fans treated Gilbert badly although he spent a lot of his time in the Austin area. He transferred to SMU which most people scoffed at- but in reality, this was a great move for him, playing under offensive guru and quarterback whisperer June Jones.
After a rough start in 2012, Garrett really turned the corner in 2013, posting career college highs in nearly all categories (335 completions, 66.5% completion percentage, 3,528 yards, 21 TDs to just 7 interceptions, and a 136.2 QB rating. He also set numerous SMU and a few UT records while at each school.
Garrett was selected in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the then St Louis Rams. He then spent time on practice squads and emergency quarterback roles around the league from 2014 to 2016 (Rams, Patriots, Lions, Raiders, Panthers), never really getting his chance to show what he could do.
Gilbert decided to give the AAF a shot to jumpstart his career. He’d be selected by the Orlando Apollos during the QB draft and hone his skills under Steve Spurrier. It was a great combination as Gilbert ended up being the defacto league MVP. Clear and away the best QB in the league, Gilbert led the league in most passing categories. He’d earn league offensive player of the week honors after blasting the San Antonio Commanders- throwing for a league record 393 yards. He even got some notoriety for catching a pass for a touchdown on a trick play. Things were looking really good for Gilbert and the Apollos as they zoomed out to a 7-1 record and claimed the division title outright.
It was then the league collapsed. The Apollos were caught by surprise by the announcement. There would be no playoffs. No championship. No crowning of a winner. No MVP. It. Was. Over. Just like that.
Despite the collapse of the AAF, Garrett has been able to parlay his achievements with the league into a contract with the Cleveland Browns.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.