Tag Archives: pittsburgh steelers

Dawson, Len

Card: ProSet 1990 Super Bowl MVP
Acquired: TTM 2016, C/o Work
Sent: 12/15   Received: 12/31   (16 days)
Failure: 2013, C/o Work

Len Dawson saw a storied NFL career that stretched from the late 50s to the mid 70s.  After putting together a strong career at Perdue, Dawson was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with their #1 pick in 1957.  Unable to dislodge Bobby Layne from the starter position, Dawson was traded to the Cleveland Browns in 1960 where he also faced an uphill battle for the starting position under center. He’d join the rival American Football League in 1962, where he’d become the unquestioned starter of the Dallas Texans.  Power plugged into the Texans offense,  Dawson immediately turned the franchise into contenders going toe to toe with the Houston Oilers and winning the AFL Championship. Soon thereafter the Texans moved to Kansas City and Len went on to record numerous accolades including league single-game and season records including career touchdowns with 182 for the American Football League.

The AFL had never earned the respect of the NFL brass. They felt that the AFL played an inferior kind of ball- even though Joe Namath led the Jets to victory the previous year in Super Bowl III. While the Chiefs appeared to be snake bitten all season long- with injuries to Len or just plain bad luck, they made the playoffs after not even winning their division. The Chiefs then dethroned the Jets on their home field in the first round, and then beat the Raiders on the road in Oakland – after not even beating them during the regular season. The hard fought victory, didn’t bring the Chiefs any respect. In fact, most media and sports writers had predicted that the Minnesota Vikings were going to roll Kansas City in Super Bowl IV.

Instead, KC which had become used to the underdog role, relished in victory, smothering the Vikings 23-7.  Dawson paced the Chiefs throwing for 142 yards and a TD on 12 of 17 passing, earning himself MVP honors- all while under duress of a gambling probe that was proven unfounded.  Dawson avenged himself for his previous loss to the NFL, when the Chiefs lost to the Packers in Super Bowl I.
Len played an additional 5 more seasons retiring after the 1975 season- after 19 seasons.

Len is incredibly popular in Kansas City Chiefs’ lore. He had his number retired and was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame. Dawson has done color commentary and insider reporting in the NFL for many years. In 1987 Len was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As of 2017, Len is a sports anchor for a Kansas City NBC affiliate.

G/GS 211/159    ATT 3741    COMP  2136   YDS 28711    PCT    57.1
TD 239    INT 183     RAT  82.6
RUSH 294    YDS1293     AVG 4.4    TD 9      LG 43

Taylor, Lionel

Card: Upper Deck Legends 1997
Acquired: TTM 2014, C/o Home
Sent: 6/4/14  Received: 8/13/16  (801 days)

Lionel Taylor had an amazing career that began in 1959 playing for the Chicago Bears.  He didn’t record a reception for the team during his rookie year and opted to join the upstart American Football League during its inaugural season in 1960 for the Denver Broncos. Taylor went on to endear himself as one of the most dominant receivers in the history of the league, leading the AFL in receptions 5 of the next 6 years.  In 1961 he set a modern era record with 100 receptions (which was broken in 1964 by Charlie Hennigan at 101). He played for the Broncos through 1966- joining the Oilers for the 1967 and 1968 seasons.  Lionel retired from the gridiron in 1969.

Taylor established himself quickly as an up and coming assistant coach with the Steelers as a receivers coach in 1970.  He’d remain there through 1976, cultivating a reputation as a Super Bowl winning positional coach.  He joined the Rams from 1977-1979, where he was offensive coordinator in 1980 and 1981.  Lionel then applied his trade at the college level for Oregon State, and then as head coach at Texas Southern through 1988.  Returning to the NFL in 1989, Taylor worked with the Cleveland Browns tight ends and as a pass coordinator.

Taylor joined the World League of American Football in 1995 as offensive coordinator to the London Monarchs. As the league rebranded to the NFLE, he’d take over as head coach of the franchise in 1996 and shepherd the franchise through to become the England Monarchs. It was a tough run for Taylor as head coach at the end, as his team was a vagabond franchise playing all over England looking for a new home. Since there was no established fan base, this gave the Monarchs no home field advantage.  The Monarchs finished with a 3-7 record during their swan song season.

Taylor has fully retired from the sport and lives in New Mexico.  At a clip over 800 days, I had fully given up on getting a response from Lionel, so this one came as quite a surprise to get back. It’s a shame, as with many American Football League players, Lionel has gotten little to no traction in Hall of Fame circles, despite his impressive numbers.

AFL
G/GS 121/NA      REC 567     YDS  7195    AVG 12.7   TD 45    LG  80T

NFLE
W  11     L 17       PCT .393

Tate, Ben ‘Goldbrick’

Card: Donruss Rookies & Stars 2010  (#34/250)
Acquired: 2016, EBay
Failure: TTM 2012, C/o The Houston Texans

Ben Tate played for the Auburn Tigers in college. His best season came as a Senior when he ran for 1362 yards and 10 TDs on 263 carries. He finished his college career with 3321 yards. He had some amazing highlight film that really emphasized displayed his burst and size. I immediately tapped him as being selected by the Texans in the second or third round. Tate was one of the best backs available in the draft. After missing out on Ryan Matthews and  bypassing Toby Gehart the Texans traded up to select Ben.  He’d join a crowded backfield with Ryan Moats, Arian Foster, Jeremiah Johnson, Chris Henry, and Steve Slaton in 2010.

Both he and Johnson tore up the Cowboys defense during the preseason, but Tate injured his ankle during the game. He’d be on injured reserve the entire 2010 season.  Tate paired with Foster to form a nasty duo in 2011,  and ran for 942 yards in 15 games.  During that season Tate suffered from a myriad of injuries from his quadraceps, to his back, and to his groin… ankle and foot.   Nonetheless, it was rumored that the Browns offered a 2nd round pick for Ben in the off-season but the Texans decided to reject the offer.

Tate was nagged by injuries in 2012 as he gathered a paltry 279 yards. Head, toe, hamstring, were among the malaise of ailments that kept Ben on the injury report and on the bench 15 games that year.

With Foster on IR for the entire 2013 season, Tate was counted on to step up and ran for 771 yards on 181 carries in relief of Foster.  It was a contract year for Tate, and he was ‘running for dollars’-to Free Agency.  He played through a lot of injuries again. The Texans meanwhile collapsed to a 2-14 record, and Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff would be released. The Texans were faced with a dilemma- resign Tate to a monstrous contract and cut Foster or keep Foster and let Tate walk. It was quite the debate but in the end the Texans chose Foster over Tate.

Ben signed a large contract with the aforementioned Cleveland Browns in 2014.  He showed up to camp out of shape, and not well conditioned but planted as the #1 back in the team’s RB rotation. He ran for 333 yards on 106 carries, but after missing two games early in the season due to injury, and then being embarrassed in a home game against the Texans rushing only 2 times for -9 yards the writing was on the wall.  He’d be cut the following week, but quickly found gainful employment with the Minnesota Vikings. In 3 games he’d run 13 times for 38 yards before Tate was cut again. The Steelers then picked him up for a game and Ben carried the load 5 times for 19 yards as an injury replacement for Le’Veon Bell.

After the season, Ben received some nibbles in Free Agency, from the Cowboys, Lions, Chiefs and 49ers at various points of 2015, but ultimately was not signed.

Well. Well. Well. Ben Tate. One of my least favorite TTM experiences. After Tate had sat around his whole rookie season on IR, I wrote him a letter asking for his autograph and enclosed 2 cards. Instead of signing them, returning them, or chalking this one up to the mailman monster, Ben Tate liked them enough that he put them on his Facebook account. I know this because I followed him at the time and the exact cards went up roughly a week after I had sent them through the mail. It left me asking him on his page, “Hey, those are my cards. Are you going to sign them?”, and other awkward statements like that. He just ignored me.   It didn’t help that on Facebook that all Ben talked about, no matter how things were going with the Texans was War Eagle this, War Eagle that. He never talked about playing for the Houston Texans.  I had always heard that Tate lacked the commitment to football. Rumors.  Over time my feelings about what happened grew into contempt, and by the end of 2012 I was referring to Ben as ‘Goldbrick’. (Goldbricking is a derogatory name given in sports to players who are collecting a paycheck or are injured all the time and are consequently using the excuse to not be on the playing field. )

It’s tough to categorize where Ben falls, and my personal experience and observation, coupled with his body of material you could color Ben’s desire and commitment either way.

Confident I’d never see my cards I sent him again, I decided to go ahead and buy this certified autographed patch card and close the book on this player.