Tag Archives: panini ut 2015

Charles, Jamaal

Cards: UT Upper Deck 2012, UT Upper Deck 2012 Icons, Panini 2015
Acquired: IP 2018, GiGi’s Cupcakes Soft Grand Opening

Jamaal Charles represents one of the biggest in person coups in a while for me. I had been looking for him for a couple of years- hearing about and missing out on a few events he was at. I guess it all started in 2013, when I did the Spoodog Box Break with Mike-E and Spoodog. Spoo had 2 or 3 certified Jamaal’s and pulled another in the case, but I had no luck whatsoever.

After finding out that GiGi’s Cupcakes had a soft opening the previous day, I decided to go up to see if I could get Brian Orapko and Michael Griffin’s autograph. I knew that Charles had been there the previous day, and I was pretty disappointed to miss out on him, but I packed his cards anyway. When I arrived after driving across town and through an on and off ice storm, I saw this beautiful powder blue Lambo sitting in the parking lot. I walked in and exclaimed, “Who’s sexy car is that outside?”, and Brian responded to me, “Oh that is Jamaal’s. He’s here too.”  The game was finally over. I had found him. After getting Brian and Griff, I went outside, grabbed 3 cards and pushed my luck. Rak was very impressed that I came prepared and Jamaal was kind enough to sign all 3.

Jamaal Charles comes from a very long line of excellent runningbacks out of the University of Texas. A standout in track, Charles joined UT in 2005 winning the National Championship in his Freshman year. He averaged a whopping 7.4 yards per carry on 119 carries and scored 11 TDs. He’d have his best numbers in 2007, rushing for 1,619 yards and 18 touchdowns on 258 carries. After the campaign concluded he declared for the 2008 NFL Draft.  He finished 4th in career total rushing yards (3,328) with UT trailing only Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell, and Cedric Benson.

Surprisingly Jamaal did not get selected until the 3rd round of the 2008 NFL draft. He’d be chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs- a rush heavy team led by Larry Johnson. During his rookie season he saw the field seldomly but made the best of it rushing for 357 yards on 67 carries. Jamaal’s first TD was a 36 yard pass reception from Tyler Thigpen against the Bills in Week 12. In 2009, Jamaal had a breakthrough and became starter for the Chiefs. He’d rush for the first of 5 1,000 yard seasons that he’d post over the next 6 seasons. Jamaal’s biggest attraction as a runningback is his yards per carry. He led the league with a 5.9 yard per carry in 2009, and then in 2010 had a career high 6.4 yards per carry (1467 yards). After an injury plagued 2011, Jamaal returned to form rushing for a career high 1,509 yards, 70 receptions (693 yards), 7 receiving TDs, and a 91 yard scamper in 2012. 2013 saw him rush for a career high 12 TDs and 1,287 yards and likewise in 2014 another 1,033 yards and 9 TDs (206 carries).

Unfortunately both Jamaal’s 2015 and 2016 season were marred by back to back season ending injuries, so the Chiefs decided to let Jamaal test the free agent waters for 2017. It ruffled some feathers when Charles- the career yardage leader for the Chiefs- signed with the division rival Denver Broncos. (I even picked up Jamaal late in one of my fantasy drafts and stashed him on my bench.) During his lone season at Mile High Jamaal hard charged to 296 yards on 69 carries. Unhappy with the runningback situation there, he asked to be released and is currently a free agent.

Orapko, Brian (2)

Cards: Panini UT 2015 Patch, Pacific 2009. Score 2009, Upper Deck 2009, Press Pass 2009, Topps 2012, Score 2015*, Panini UT 2015, Donruss 2015, Panini Threads 2011.
Acquired: IP 2018, GiGi’s Cupcakes Soft Grand Opening.
IP 2018, T-Mobile Player Event, IP 2018, Back to Camp GiGi’s event
* Future considerations Lance
See Also: Brian Orapko

Brian Orapko and Michael Griffin had been hitting the social media circuit for a bit talking up their new joint venture- GiGi’s Cupcakes. Apparently when they both played for the Titans in Nashville they got hooked on the confectionary treat and decided that they wanted to be franchisees. Brian and Michael had posted some great photos of them cutting their teeth and learning the ropes behind the construction of their store in Bee Cave. Both of the alluded to a grand opening ‘in a few weeks’, so I kept my eyes peeled for any updates along the way. I just so happened to check their feed after I got back from the Bastrop Boot Event, and found out that Griff and Rak had done a soft opening that very same day. I was a bit miffed. The next morning I called them up, and was told that they were open today and come on down.

I battled my way about 30 miles through the sometimes frozen rain to get there, but once I arrived I was greeted by a beaming Orapko and Griffin. (I was really shocked as the last time I saw Rak, he was a bit disgruntled, and begrudgingly gave me his autograph.) I decided to get a 4-pack (only reserving the Red Velvet for myself) and asking him to choose the remainder for me. He filled out the box nicely over small talk and rang me out. (Admittedly, it was a weird experience to have an NFL player working a register for me.)  We even got in a good laugh over their instagram, as I wholly expected somebody to be tossing dough in the back like they were making a pizza. Brian had no problem signing these 2 cards for me. Heck, I probably could’ve gotten him to sign a few more- he was in such a good mood.

Talking about going from worst to first. It was a great experience meeting him again. I even told him how I was hurt he signed with the Titans and not the Texans, and we had a good laugh at my expense over it. – And the best part: THE CUPCAKES WERE AMAZING.

Later in the year I caught up with Spoodog and his wife. I hadn’t seen them in quite sometime- either a Priest Holmes signing or a Cedric Griffin signing well over a year ago. A lot had changed for me with a baby taking need over anything else and his job just sort of precluded everything else. It was great catching up with them. In fact a whole host of people showed up I hadn’t seen in a while. This made the wait for Orakpo even easier. It wasn’t much of a line at the T-Mobile location, but it was frustrating because we were told the wrong location and shuttled back and forth until we got to the right place.

Rak was uneven at this event for me. I tried joking with him, and I let him know that I enjoyed the cupcakes, and heck that they may have been the first sugar my baby ever tasted, but I must have rubbed him the wrong way either through my joking manner or the fact that I asked him to sign 6 cards. I did give him a hard time about the Titans new uniforms. They look exactly like the CFL Toronto Argonauts. I took to calling them the Tennessee Argonauts. The pen also was giving up or he was signing lighter with each card. By the time he got to the Topps at the end, it was barely taking. He also was signing and just sort of tossing the cards at me. I felt pretty badly. Oh well… A few friends of mine asked for future considerations to get Orakpo.  Essentially what it means is that I’ll get the autograph free of charge, and they will look out for anybody me. I’m not picky as long as it is not in my collection already. (Lance and I have done these exchanges with regularity.) I went ahead and gave up the Score 2015- which I think looks terrible, and the Upper Deck 2009 Draft Edition, which I sorta wanted to keep- but this is how it goes. I hope these cards new homes appreciate them as much as I do.

Later I went to the Back to Camp event that Brian was holding at GiGi’s before he headed off to Tennessee for the year. Many Longhorns were invited, but since I got there early, and had little time I only managed to get Brian and Michael Huff. I felt badly about how I had treated Brian at the T-Mobile event. He either took it in good stride or had already forgotten about me ribbing him about the Texans. He signed 3 cards for me. Well really 2. He re-inked the Topps 2014 that came out really badly, looked over the Panini Triple Threads card, and then tossed in his Donruss 2015 Sample card. He was really informative about the process of the league. New coaches get a little bit more time and Coach Vrabel wanted them in Tennessee to get ready for the season as soon as possible. Brian and I also talked about the sample card. Apparently many companies offer the cards to the players when they come out. The Donruss card in particular was stamped/ imprinted on the back with the word ‘sample’ on it. Brian said that when he found out he had his first card, he was super excited because it was like a coming of age.

Brian signed with the Titans in 2015. By October of that season, he was already established as a team captain. He finished his first campaign in Nashville with 7 sacks, 38 tackles (13 ast), 5 passes defended, and a forced fumble.  2016, saw Rak establish near career highs with 10.5 sacks, 38 tackles (8 ast), 4 passes defended, and a forced fumble. While his numbers were slightly down in 2017, Brian finished with 30 tackles (10 ast), 7 sacks, 2 passes defended, and 3 forced fumbles. With new coach and former LB Mike Vrabel in town, it should be interesting to see how Brian’s numbers stack up in 2018.

Griffin, Michael (2)


Card: Playoff Contenders 2007, Score 2008, Panini UT 2015
Acquired: 2016, EBay.  IP 2018, GiGi’s Cupcakes Soft Grand Opening
See Also: Michael Griffin

After Michael’s 9th season in the NFL, in which he recorded 101 tackles, an interception, and a sack, he was released in the off season by the Tennessee Titans.  With gas still left in the tank, Michael signed with the Minnesota Vikings for 2016. He’d be injured during the preseason and released. Rehabbing from his injury Griffin signed with the Carolina Panthers. He played in 10 games contributing 30 tackles.  In 2017, Michael joined Longhorn Legends TJ Ford and Cory Redding in finishing his bachelor’s degree with Griffin’s being in youth and community services.

I’ve always liked the Playoff Contenders series, strictly because it follows a slow evolution rule, much like the Corvette. Every year, small tweaks in the design and look of the card. The 2007 entry was a nice set, but I really disliked the tiny Titans pinstripe type. It says baseball, not football with that typeface. It’s also just dangling out there distracting from the image of the player. It does not pass the thumb test. Basically if you put your thumb to the image over the Titans pinstripe the image looks better without the pinstripe. Still it was a pretty solid card and the certified autograph works well on this canvas.

Fellow Longhorn and Titan alum, Brian Orapko and Griff had been teasing the grand opening of their cupcake restaurant GiGi’s in Bee Cave.  After I heard they had a soft opening for their social media fans the previous day, I made the trip from East of Austin all the way to Bee Cave through the freezing rain. It paid off as both Brian and Orapko were there as well as Jamaal Charles (special random guest appearance)! Michael was kind enough to pen the Panini 2015 UT card as well as his Score 2008 card. The cupcakes were also really good too!