Card: Action Packed Whizzer White Award 1991 Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o Home Sent: 7/3 Received: 7/22 (19 days)
Andy Russell played 14 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers at linebacker from 1963-1976. A 7 time Pro Bowler, he was a member of the Steelers first two Super Bowl Championships.
Originally a home grown product out of Missouri, Andy chose to play for the Tigers, There he was known more for his rushing prowess than his ability to tackle players in the backfield. He ran for 662 yards on 172 carries and scored 3 TDs over three years from 1960-1962. At the time Russell was a two way player and also played linebacker, and most notably recording an interception for a TD in a 10-0 victory over the Sooners in ’61.
Andy was drafted by the Steelers to play linebacker in 1963. He’d garner all-rookie honors for his first season. He’d join the military in 1964 and serve through 1965 before returning to the team and playing through some truly terrible years with the franchise. Russell though persevered, and eventually head coach Chuck Noll built a nucleus of players around Andy, which eventually became known as ‘The Steel Curtain’. He’d be a stalwart bulwark for the Steelers, playing for the team the next 11 seasons.
Andy was unusually durable and reliable for a player of that era and never missed a game in 168 regular season contests. Andy is also the only player in NFL history to be named to 6 consecutive Pro Bowls (1970-1975). He earned the Whizzer White Award in 1973, was a team captain for 10 consecutive seasons, was named team MVP 3 times, won two Super Bowls, and has earned numerous awards and nominations from Missouri and is a member of the Steelers All-Time Team.
Kevin has been a career coach, since earning his Master’s in physical education from Idaho State. He joined the staff there at the school in 1974 and then embarked on a whirlwind of collegiate stops at Tufts (1976-77), and American International (1978-79). In 1980, Kevin returned to his Alma Mater Southern Connecticut State where he earned his first head coaching gig. There he posted a 35-14-2 record coaching the Owls through 1984. In 1985, Kevin joined the CFL Ottawa Rough Riders as an assistant coach.
Gilbride returned to the college ranks in 1987 as he continued to hone his skills as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He then joined the Houston Oilers in 1989 as the quarterbacks coach working with Warren Moon, as the Oilers converted over to Run ‘N Shoot full time. In 1990 he became the team’s offensive coordinator- a position he held through 1994.
It’d be in 1993, that Buddy Ryan joined the Oilers staff. A divisive defensive coordinator, Buddy and Kevin did not see eye to eye philosophically, and head coach Jack Pardee was laissez faire managing their relationship. Things came to a boil finally on a Sunday Night contest against the New York Jets during the season finale- and after the defense was forced to come back onto the field late in the first half, Buddy went up and slugged Kevin. A host of players had to separate the two to keep them from going at it on the sidelines.
Kevin Gilbride will be selling insurance in two years.
– Buddy Ryan
Still despite this Kevin has always been a magnanimous professional about the situation. It’s unfortunate that most fans remember Gilbride for this incident, instead of his prolific offenses and quarterback whispering.
After the collapse of the Oilers in 1994, Kevin was not retained. He joined the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars as their offensive coordinator the following year, and was with the team through the 96 season. After the Jaguars had a prolific season that year, Kevin was scooped up by the San Diego Chargers to be their head coach. He was with the team for less than 2 seasons, and after a poor showing to kick off 1998, he was let go. He finished 6-16 during his brief time as head coach. Kevin spent the next two years as the offensive coordinator of the Steelers, and then in 2001 as an analyst for ESPN. 2002 and 2003 saw him step into the OC chair for the Bills, before Kevin went on to coach for the New York Giants in 2004.
Reunited with Tom Coughlin from Jacksonville, Kevin worked with Eli Manning as the quarterbacks coach through 2005, before returning to the offensive coordinator mantle. During this period, the Giants won two Super Bowl titles under his guidance (- the same amount that Buddy Ryan won). In 2014 Kevin retired.
It’d be after a nearly 5 year hiatus, Kevin was hired by the XFL, that was rebooting for 2020. Kevin was named as head coach of the New York Guardians. He’d draft Matt McGloin to be his quarterback, and trade for Luis Perez. Despite suffering through a quarterback meltdown, and the team losing 2 straight contests, the Guardians rebounded to a 3-2 record. It was a shame that the league ended at the time it did as the franchise was on the upswing and was in a dead heat for first place.
Killer response from Kevin, who not only signed his card, but also graciously included a copy of a Run ‘N Shoot play from back in the days of the Houston Oilers! (I’ve asked coaches on occasion for a play, but have never gotten a response up until this point.) I just wish he had identified the play I was looking at. Later an offensive quality control specialist identified it as being called ‘Choice’- but whether or not Kevin calls it this or not is unknown.
When I was a kid, I remembered going to Oilers training camp while Kevin was there. He came over to sign autographs and he overheard me talking about Eric Metcalf and told me he’d be excited to have Eric play for him.
Kevin’s head coaching career has been brief, and by the time he was, the chief maker of coach cards- ProSet was out of business, so nobody up to this point, had ever made a card of him. I was very excited when I saw that he was in the XFL 2020 set, and decided it was a priority to try to get his autograph on this card.
A dynamic playmaker everytime he touched the ball, Kordell Stewart was a 3 year starter for the Colorado Buffalos option attack from 1992-1994. A legend for the Buffs, Kordell had 1,725 yards rushing and 15 TDs on 302 carries to pair with 6,481 yards and 33 TDs to 19 picks. Again, as with many gifted black ‘athletic’ quarterbacks of this era- the NFL still did not know what to make of Kordell. They felt his talents were best suited at wide receiver.
He’d be selected in the 3rd round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kordell eventually earned the name ‘slash’ because the Steelers didn’t have a classification for his position so they just used the designation ‘/’ to identify his position, as the Sellers did everything they could to get the ball to him they could, but he spent the majority of his time at receiver his first two seasons.
I’m not sure what the plan was for Kordell, but he quickly became endeared to fans who wanted to see what Slash could do at quarterback. With starter Mike Tomczak struggling in 1997 Kordell got his shot and excited fans with his versatility at throwing the ball or taking off on his fleet feet. Over the next 5 seasons with the Steelers, Kordell led Pittsburgh to two AFC Championship games earning a Pro Bowl nod for his 2001 efforts when he threw for 3,109 yards and 14 TDs, while rushing for 537 yards and 5 TDs.
In 2003 Kordell signed with the Bears, and entered the season as the starting quarterback, but was benched due to ineffectiveness. He’d sign with the Ravens the following year and back up Kyle Boller through the ’05 season and then retire.
Kordell has done guest appearances on TV game shows, commentary work, radio, and sideline reporting (for the UFL). Currently he works for ESPN, and is an avid golfer.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.