Way not to step up to the plate Panini. I don’t get it. I really like what they do, but when it comes to the intangibles of the market, Panini just falls flat on their face. Case in point: Serving me an autograph of a player who wasn’t drafted. OK. That’s not so bad… What’s bad is the fact that this guy retired a month BEFORE the draft due to lingering knee injuries. In fact he’d been retired so long that he’s had his PR team scrub his wikipedia entry, highlighting his accomplishments and billing him as a ‘political operative’, rather than a football player. I mean, Panini either didn’t care or didn’t have the time to remove all his cards/autographs from the set, but still Panini should’ve offered me a replacement, at least, instead of crickets on Twitter. Since I got this initial card, I have pulled an additional 2 duplicates of this autograph which begged me to wonder how poor the sorting machine is at Panini.
Ok now- let’s talk about Adam Brenemen. A lifelong football fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, Adam was recognized and encouraged by his coaches while in high school for his athletic talent. He went to college initially at Penn State and in his true Freshman year caught 15 passes with 3 going for touchdowns; However an MRI in 2014 showed significant knee ligament damage- so much so that Adam had to leave the sport behind.
Still hearing the siren’s call, Adam decided to give it another shot after transferring to UMASS in 2016. He put up some great numbers playing for the Minutemen with 70 catches for 808 yards and 8 TDs in 2016, and 64 receptions for 764 yards and 4 TDs. Unfortunately his lingering knee injury worsened and he was forced to retire before draft day at the age of 22.
Da’Ron (or Daron) Payne is considered a rare behemoth, with not only space-eating power but the strength to go along with it. He weighs in at 6’3″, 311, and bench presses easily over 450 pounds. Da’Ron also commands the line and teams had a hard time running on him- even when using a double team. With other great talent on the line at Alabama, it took sometime for Payne to break into the starting lineup. In 2017 he finished with 53 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 3 pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. He flew up the draft boards with his solid combine results. This allowed Da’Ron to be selected 13th by the Washington Redskins.
Turning heads in mini-camp, Daron will slide into the Redskins alignment at defensive tackle and may even play a bit of nose. A nagging ankle injury during camp though limited his reps and he didn’t really play much during the preseason. Daron had an impressive debut in the NFL. Shifting from defensive tackle to nose depending on the alignment, Payne started all 16 games for Washington, and posted 56 combined tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 pass deflections and a forced fumble.
Here’s an interesting card from one of those blaster boxes of Panini I’ve become so loathe of recent. If I told you 4 years ago, Kenny Hill would be on a TCU card and not be enshrined alongside Johnny Manziel as a one of the Texas A&M great quarterbacks, you would think I was mad- but here we are.
Backing up for Manziel for just one year in 2014, Kenny was handed the keys to the Aggies fortunes a year later. He would not disappoint in his first start- breaking Manziel’s single game school passing record (511 yards), and Jerrod Johnson’s single game school record (44 completions), against then #9 South Carolina. Almost immediately sensing an opportunity Hill trademarked his moniker ‘The Trill’ for promotional purposes- but after warming up against what turned out to be mid-tier talent, Hill’s number began to tail off against tougher opponents. After losing 3 straight games, he’d be benched- and then suspended for 2 games. Was the pressure too much at AtM or was the school just not patient enough? Who really knows? Whatever the circumstances, Kenny transferred to TCU in 2016. On the season it should be noted he threw 23 TDs to just 8 interceptions and completed 66.7% of his passes.
After a subpar 2016, Kenny again lit up the scoreboard, bringing his signature style of football to the Horned Frogs posting almost identical numbers to his year as starter at AtM. In his final game he’d beat the Stanford Cardinal 39-37 in the Valero Bowl, as TCU finished ranked 9th in the nation.
Kennny was unselected in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’d sign with the Oakland Raiders, but was quickly cut. Later he’d be picked up by the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, but is rumored to be high on the wishlist of the upstart AAF San Antonio franchise.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.