Card: Topps AAF NOW 2019 Acquired: IP 2020, Houston Roughnecks/ Tampa Bay Vipers Joint Practice See Also: De’Veon Smith
After spending a short stint with the Redskins in 2018, De’Veon took his talents to the Alliance of American Football in 2019. He signed with the Orlando Apollos for the season. He quickly entered the league record books, scoring the AAF’s first rushing TD in a 40-6 drubbing of the Atlanta Legends.
De’Veon was part of a 3-headed monster for the Orlando Apollos league leading offense. A compact runner, with a low center of gravity, he finished 6th in the league rushing with 75 carries for 345 yards and 3 TDs. His best game came against Birmingham when he ran 14 times for 119 yards and a 40 yard long.
In 2020, Smith joined the XFL Tampa Bay Vipers. When I heard the Roughnecks were doing a joint practice with the Roughnecks, I gambled I could get his autograph on this card. After practice he almost escaped, but I was able to flag him down. He came over and kindly signed my card and we exchanged pleasantries about the Commanders game that Orlando won that AAF season. He then helped me flag down Tarean Folston who I also really wanted.
A breathtaking track man coming out of tiny Heidelberg college, Donteea Dye was reputed to run a 4.39 40 during the NFL Scouting Combine. In 2015, he posted 28 receptions for 701 yards (25 yards per catch) and 8 TDs for the Knights. He’d be signed as a free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the draft.
Donteea saw action in 10 games (starting 6) for the Bucs his rookie year. He caught 11 passes for 132 yards- which included his first catch that went for a TD. He’d spend the remainder of his career on and off the franchise’s practice squad. Unfortunately he is best remembered for catching a 44 yard bomb that he began to celebrate over, before realizing that the play was still live- resulting in him fumbling the ball.
After being released in 2018, Donteea signed with the Orlando Apollos for their upcoming 2019 season. He’d post 7 receptions for 133 yards and 2 TDs. His best game came in the final contest when he caught a 65 yard TD against the Memphis Express. Perhaps the final missing piece or secret weapon to the Apollos offense, Donteea’s role had been slowly increasing over the past few contests before the AAF shut down.
In October of 2019, Donteea was selected by the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL.
Card: Topps AAF 2019 Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o The Philadelphia Eagles Sent: 4/10 Received: 7/26 (107 days)
Charles Johnson was the big bodied playmaker in Steve Spurrier’s Sun N Gun offense at Wide Receiver. Over 8 games, he caught 45 passes (70 targets) primarily from Garrett Gilbert, for 687 yards, 5 TDs and a 2 point conversion. His 687 yards and 70 targets were a league mark. Charles best game came against the San Antonio Commanders in Week 2, as he set AAF records with 10 catches for 192 yards and a TD.
“He’s done a fantastic job since he’s been here. He got himself acclimated to the system, and he and I have great rapport.”
– Apollos QB Garrett Gilbert
Charles Johnson’s football story starts at Antelope Valley Community College back in 2008. He caught 24 passes for 231 yards and 3 TDs, and then at Eastern Kentucky catching 3 passes for 63 yards. He transferred to Grand Valley and reshirted for a year. Returning to the gridiron in 2011 he blew the doors off of the college recording 56 receptions for 1030 yards and 15 TDs. Johnson followed that season up with an equally impressive Senior campaign with 72 receptions for 1,199 yards and 16 TDs.
Although he was not invited to the NFL combine in 2013, and hailing from a small school, Charles turned heads with his 4.39 40 on his school’s Pro Day. He parlayed his efforts to sneak onto draft boards as a 7th round pick of the Green Bay Packers. Earning a spot on the team’s practice squad, Charles was signed away by the WR needy Browns, where he spent 2013 and 2014.
He then spent the next 3 seasons with the Vikings from 2014-2016. It was with the Vikes Johnson saw the most success, cobbling together 31 catches for 475 yards and 2 TDs during 2014. Hampered by injuries and inconsistency, Johnson struggled through 2015 and 2016.
Charles signed with the Panthers in 2017, but did not make the squad. The following year in 2018 he joined the Jets, but was cut mid-year and elected to join the AAF.
After the disappointing end to the league, Charles signed within the first few days of the AAF free agent frenzy. When I saw his name popped up on the transaction boards for the Eagles, I didn’t hesitate for a second and sent out to him the following week.
As one of the older players in the AAF, Charles was of interest to many scouts in the NFL and there was a lot of chatter always surrounding what a great story he was for the league, and how just getting back to basics had really helped him fall back in love with the game. I got his autograph on his lone AAF card, and although they did come out with a Topps NOW card of him- I thought that Topps really missed out on the certified autograph boat with him.
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