Tag Archives: pittsburgh steelers

Wilkerson, Eric

Card: ProSet 1991
Acquired: TTM 1992, C/o New York/ New Jersey Knights
See also: Eric Wilkerson (2)

Okay, unlike most fans, I don’t care if a player signs with a ball point pen. It’s not really a big deal and as far as I know it could be a part of that player’s style. I know it technically ‘ruins’ the card, but I am just happy to get the autograph.

The all time leading rusher at Kent State, (and MAC player of the year in 1987) Eric Wilkerson ran for 3,830 career yards (before the mark was broken in 1997). Wilkerson was a free agent signee by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1989. Unable to crack the starting lineup he was out of football for the next season when he was drafted by the New York/ New Jersey Knights of the WLAF. The Knights under Mouse Davis were a Run and Shoot offense, where you pass first and run second. It became evident by week 2 though that Wilkerson was going to handle the load for the team as he rushed for 121 yards on 11 carries against future World Bowl Champion, the London Monarchs. Wilkerson in fact went on to lead the WLAF in 1991 with 717 rushing yards, placing him on the Second-Team All World League. He tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns with 11, and second in total yards (990). He also was third in the league in rushing average, and had 3 touchdowns in one game against Orlando. His 4 touchdowns receiving topped the team as well.

His Sophomore season would not be as spectacular as Reggie Slack emerged as a force at quarterback for the team. Wilkerson still finished 8th in the league in rushing with a respectable 4.4 yards per carry but the WLAF reorganized shortly thereafter and Eric became the short lived original league’s career leading rusher. His 72 yard scamper in 1991 would also stand as the league record. He’d play one final season of football for his hometown Cleveland Thunderbolts in the Arena leagues as a WR/DB and then retire.

Since football, Wilkerson had his number retired at Kent State, and was inducted into the Varsity “K” Hall of Fame in 1995. He also was inducted into his local high school’s hall of fame at Central Catholic High.  In 2007, Wilkerson was stabbed in the arm and was in critical condition, however there is no follow up information after this. His current whereabouts are unknown, but I was able to reach him a few years later via the Kent State Alumni Association.

Games n/a  Att 208  Yds  1121   Avg 5.4  Td 10  Lg 74 |  Rec 37  Yds 414  Avg 11.2  Td 6  Lg 31

Zgonina, Jeff

Cards: Fleer Premium 2002
Acquired: TTM, Texans Blitz 2009, C/o Houston Texans

/Scone- ina/ is roughly how you pronounce Jeff’s last name. An ironman journeyman Jeff Zgonina played in the NFL from 1993 to 2009, -or roughly 17 seasons for 7 teams. At 6-2, 285 he played on the interior line as both a NT and a change of pace DT.  Zgonina would play on the St. Louis Rams’ Super Bowl teams, after bouncing around, but would find his final home with the Houston Texans where he finished out his career after a short stint in Miami. (Zgonina was a fringe player who found himself frequently on the cusp of the final cut, or called back a week later when more room was made and despite his age, didn’t have as much wear on his tires as people thought.)  Zgonina will be best remembered by Houston Texans’ fans for when he recovered a Kerry Collins freak fumble against the Titans in 2009  for a victory. An outspoken member in the locker room, players could expect to hear the straight up truth from Jeff, and he provided guidance for the younger members of the defensive line.

G 219     Tac 308        Sac 26            Fum 13
Int  1               Yds  0       Avg 0.0        Td  0

Avery, Steven

Cards: Wild Card WLAF 1992, Ultimate WLAF 1991.
Acquired: TTM 2010, C/o home
Sent: 3/12  Received: 4/10 (28 days)

Steven Avery went undrafted out of Northern Michigan in 1989 where he signed as a free agent with the then Houston Oilers. After being cut in camp that year he sat out a year, and then was picked up by the Packers who then allocated him to the Birmingham Fire of the WLAF where he played for two seasons as their starting fullback until the league went on hiatus after 1992. Recognized for his tough nosed blocking and decent hands, Steve’s style matched that of a ‘poor man’s’ Meril Hoge.  He was a natural fit for the Steelers, and signed with them in 1993 and playing for the gold and black for 3 years before retiring. Since retired from football the Steelers have had him back as an honorary captain on occasion. Steve lives in Ocmonoc, WI. I sent out for Steve’s autograph to his home address, where he sent a nice thank you note to me for being a fan in a bit under 30 days.

Fire    games 20     att 49     yds 182    avg 3.7    td 1   lg 32
rec 32  yds 364   avg 11.4   td  3   lg  54t