Tag Archives: peoria pirates

Johnson, Lee

tntafl14 lee johnsonCard: TNT AFL 2014
Acquired: IP 5/17/14, San Antonio Talons vs. New Orleans Voodoo

Coach Johnson is a veteran of many leagues as both a player and a coach. He’s spent time in the NFL, CFL, NFLE, and AFL. Among his highlights, Johnson coached the defensive line of the Berlin Thunder to two consecutive World Bowl Championships in both 2001 and 2002. He then coached the Denver Crush to the Arena Football Championship in 2004. After taking the reins of the Talons, he coached them to a 14-4 record and a division title, in 2012.

After the San Antonio Talons game against the Iowa Barnstormers I gave out my custom cards to many players on the field. It created such a stir that Coach Johnson came over and asked me where his was. After I joked with him a few seconds about sharing the same first name, he quickly extracted a promise from me to make a custom for him as well.

I arrived at the Talons game versus the Voodoo early as usual. After talking to the COO of the Talons and giving him a copy of the set, he went over to Lee to show him what I had done. Coach immediately came over and talked to me with a broad smile, signed the card and thanked me for the extras. He asked me what I wanted for the cards I made and gave to him, but as usual the most important thing for me is the autograph gracing the card for my own collection, and their enduring happiness and willingness to chase their dreams. You know, on that note, I have always subscribed to the ultimate belief that a true gift is one that is not expected, and for purposes of what I had given to each of these players I know it meant a lot to them.


Ridgeway, Dante

Card: Topps Premium 2005
Acuired: 4/9/12, Target Authentic Memorabilia Autograph Edition

A dangerous receiver for tiny Ball State, Ridgeway set school records for receptions (105) and yards (1,399) in a season. Dante finished with 238 receptions, for 3,030 yards, and 22 touchdowns in a mere 35 games. He elected to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft in 2005. Despite running a blazing 4.36 40, at 5’11”, 212 he was considered a bit undersized. Also playing in the MAC didn’t earn him any points with scouts. The St. Louis Rams pulled the trigger on Ridgeway during the 6th round.

Inexplicably, a month after signing a 3 year contract with the Rams, the team would cut Dante in August of 2005. A short stint on the Bengals landed Ridgeway on the roster of the Jets, from 05 to 06, and then the Saints from 06 to 07.  After joining again the off-season roster of the Jets in 2007- Dante returned to the Saints from 2007-2008. He’d contribute primarily as a special teamer, or rarely suit up.  2009 led Ridgeway to the Peoria Pirates of the AFL, and then quickly to the Chicago Rush in 2010.

Topps never seems to top itself, creating some of the worst cards on the market. Even their autograph cards are foul. Who creates an autograph card and then puts the word ‘Common’ on it?