Topps Fire 2015, #18Panini Contenders Draft Picks, #96
After he smudged one of the cards I wanted him to sign that I had previously sent to him, I waited a year and gave him another shot on two more cards. He did however return that Upper Deck College Legends in almost record time in just 4 days flat.
Topps really had come a long way over the years, and their Fire branded entry was really high end stuff. When I got this card, I knew I wanted to eventually get it signed. Tony appears in most of the Panini stuff, and I still need to possibly go back and get him on one last card or two, but who knows if he will still be signing by then as CTE has really taken its toll on the former stalwart back.
Cards: Panini Contenders 2016, Leaf Draft 2016, Panini Prism 2016 Acquired: IP 2019, SA Commanders Team Signing Dick’s Sporting Goods at The Rim
The Commanders big signing event of the season came at Dick’s Sporting Goods and with big names from the team appearing, it made total sense for me to go. Even though the event said NO OUTSIDE ITEMS, I figured I would take my chances and show up with my cards. It turned out nobody cared and I was able to go through the line 2 times to get all my cards covered. Mekale was next to Derron Smith, and they argued over which had the better cards. Mekale was sold on his Prism card, but he got trumped by Derron who had a Prism die cut card that looked like a fence. Overall it was a great event and I was happy with getting all the players’ autographs that were in attendance, as about two weeks later the league would disappear. Mekale’s autograph is very unique. I have never seen an M shaped quite like that.
Mekale was not drafted coming out of Arkansas (2012)/ Cincinnati (2013-2015), where he posted 108 receptions for 2034 yards and 19 TDs over his time between the two schools. A huge target stepping in at 6-5, McKay averaged an improbable 30.3 yards per reception in 2013 when he hauled in 16 catches for 485 yards and 7 TDs. He’d sign with the Colts after the draft in 2016, but be cut after training camp. Mekale then bounced around between the Jaguars, Broncos, Titans, Bears, and Cowboys over the next two years.
In 2019 McKay signed with the San Antonio Commanders of the now defunct Alliance of American Football. He’d post 22 receptions for 375 yards and 4 TDs including 1 2 point conversion. Mekale’s 17 yards a reception also was among the league leaders in that category. After the league ‘suspended operations’, Mekale drew interest from the Buffalo Bills and attended minicamp with the Browns.
Mekale was then selected by the New York Guardians of the XFL 2020, during the second round of the initial phase of the player draft. Over the course of the season he caught 12 passes for 184 yards and a TD, before the COVID pandemic cancelled the season. Two months later, McKay signed with the Blue Bombers of the CFL, but roughly a month later the league suspended play due to COVID as well.
Cards: Topps Valor 2015, Sage 2015 Artistry, Sage 2015, Sage 2015 Next Level, Panini Prestige 2015, Panini Prestige Blue Chips 2015, Topps Air 2015, Panini Contenders 2016, Topps 2015, Leaf Draft 2015 Acquired: IP 2019, XFL Roughnecks Meet and Greet. Box Breaker 2020
Wow. What a haul. After seeing Sammie was drafted by the XFL Roughnecks I quickly pulled out as many cards of him as I could in anticipation of some sort of event or draft party and just bode my time. A few events passed by, and knowing I had a chit to burn to Houston for an event or two, I thought I’d wait it out and see. Lo and behold a triple billing of Head Coach June Jones, QB Connor Cook and Sammie popped up- so I made my move and went to the event.
I took a half day and drove down to North Houston. I’d never been to The Woodlands. It’s name is pretty apt as the bar they were at was in the middle of a shopping strip in a forest. I was one of the first people there, and immediately bumped heads with a fan who did not want to hang out with any other fans- little less one from Austin. He was quick to flip on me, constantly bagging on Austin, or saying, “There’s too many liberals in Austin,” – And not in a joking way. I tried to not let it spoil my enthusiasm for the team, but it was frustrating having that as my first experience. Part of the point of the league is no political drama, and here’s a guy making political theater out of it.
Anyway, Sammie, Connor, and June strolled in the door. I waited them out until after they’d eaten. Sammie was destroying some hot wings when I came up. He saw my cards and his eyes lit up, and after washing his hands and coming back signed every one of them. He liked the Sage 2015 cards so much, I gave him my extras I had for his PC. I asked him what position of WR that June Jones would have him at, but he said that it hadn’t been hammered out. We discussed his brief stay in Houston, where he called, Bill O’Brien, “Quite unique,” but notably had nothing bad to say about the ball coach. It was an easy pickup. Sammie signed 11 cards for me total- with an extra going to my friend Jeff, who was unable to go.
There is a thick stack of great cards that Sammie had for me to choose from. Thankfully he signed all of them. I really enjoyed the design on nearly all of them, with the Valor is the easy kill. The Sage Artistry was dreamy to me. I felt like there was a bit extra attention paid to creating this image, but the Panini Blue Chip was a well designed canvas, along with the Contenders which was a pleasant surprise.
Sammie Coates attended Auburn, where with his crisp routes, hands and speed, he burst onto the scene during his Sophomore year with 902 yards receiving on 42 receptions. He declared for the 2015 NFL Draft after finishing with 741 yards on 34 receptions to go along with 4 TDs in his Junior campaign, and was selected in the 3rd round of the draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coates had a rough go of it and got buried on the depth chart. He played sparingly his rookie year. In 2016 Sammie caught 21 passes for 435 yards and 2 TDs, however injuries drug down a good portion of his efforts for the year and early into training camp for 2017. Traded to the Browns, Sammie was with the team through Spring of 2018, where he then joined the receiver needy Texans. Cut by the Texans, Sammie went through training camp with the Chiefs, but did not make the roster.
He’d be selected in the 3rd round of the XFL Draft by the Houston Roughnecks where he is expected to see serious playing time in the Run N Shoot offense under guru June Jones.
I ended up drafting Sammie for my fantasy team. He had some near misses on TD grabs during the XFL regular season. Over the course of 4 games he caught 6 passes for 61 yards. I tried to see if he’d sign his XFL card for me TTM, but I didn’t get a response.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.