Card: GameDay 1992
Acquired: In Person, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp 1993
Indiana University is not really known as a hotbed of football talent- but the Raiders took a chance on Nolan Harrison in the 6th round of the 1991 draft as a possible replacement for star defensive end Howie Long or Greg Townsend. In the meantime the Raiders would utilize him also at defensive tackle, until 1994 when he’d get a career high 5 sacks at left defensive end. Nolan would sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1997, and play there through 1999 making 7.5 sacks and then close out his career with the Washington Redskins in 2000. As a player, Nolan’s strength would be his high motor and flexibility along the defensive line providing invaluable depth for 10 seasons.
Since retiring Harrison has remained extremely active in NFLPA activities, serving on a variety of boards, financial management, and being a motivational speaker. In 2010, Nolan was named Senior Director of Former Player Affairs and he and former Raider Dave Pear have also squared off on disability and retirement benefits over the last few months.
On top of the possible 2011 NFL strike, there’s actually another party involved in the labor dispute that must not be ignored- those retired players that paved the way for the rest of the league’s success. Many former players who did not live on the ballooned million dollar contracts and on a pittance of severance sacrificed their bodies for our entertainment and now their pain and problems are largely ignored by the league. While Nolan has made some contact with Dave Pear- it remains to be seen whether or not our former greats are treated with the respect they deserve. You can follow Nolan on twitter at: http://twitter.com/NolanHarrison74.
G/Gs 128/83 Tac 199 Sac 22.0 Fum 5 Int 0 Yds 0 Avg -.- Td 0 Lg 0
Cards: Fleer 1990, Score 1990
Acquired: In Person 1990, 1993, Dallas Cowboys Training Camp.
So it all technically began with Ray Horton on that Fleer 1990 card. He was the first autograph I got in Dallas Cowboys training camp way back in 1990. It was happy times back then, and I grabbed every card and my black sharpie before I headed out the door that morning with Josh. We’d ride the bus back and forth from North Austin or have our mothers drop us off for what turned into an all day affair. We quickly established where the best place was to get autographs- (the second fence line as the street narrowed to get onto the field) and would camp the spot to grab signatures. I think on the first day I got 7 autographs on cards and I had a hard time sleeping because I was so excited to go back the next to see who I could get. I never thought that almost 20 years later I’d pick up the hobby again and enjoy it just as much.
Ray Horton was drafted out of Washington, where he played alongside Cowboy Vince Albritton. Horton would be taken in the second round by the Cincinatti Bengals, where he’d play in SuperBowl XXIII for the Bengals, before leaving the team in Plan B for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. Ray’s rookie season was solid in 1983, with 5 interceptions, 121 yards and a touchdown -which would be his career high. He’d record 13 interceptions with the Bengals and in 1989 would sign with Jimmy Johnson‘s woeful Cowboy team, providing solid depth and a bright spot in the secondary pulling down 6 more interceptions and then retiring after the 1992 season and ten seasons winning SuperBowl XXVII. A nose for the endzone, Horton would have four touchdowns via interceptions and one from a fumble.
Since retiring Horton has moved right into coaching picking up almost right where he left off. He’s made stops with the Lions, Redskins, Bengals, and Steelers where he added two more rings in SuperBowl XL and XLIII. In 2011, he was named the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.
G/Gs 147/ 99 Tac N/a Sac 3 Fum 5 Int 19 Yds 269 Avg 14.16 Td 4 Lg 65T
Cards: ProSet 1991, ProSet WLAF 1991
Acquired: TTM 2010, C/o The Buffalo Bills
Sent: 3/12 Received: 3/19 (7 days)
Georgia born Chan Gailey, has been coaching at the college or pro level now for roughly 35 years, working at a variety of levels before being hired to coach with the Denver Broncos in 1985 and is considered a member of the Dan Reeves coaching tree. He’d spend the next 6 seasons there culminating in the offensive coordinator job, before he became the head coach of the Birmingham Fire in 1991. Making his mark with the team in nearby Alabama, Gailey’s team would make the playoffs both years of the WLAF’s existence. The teams’ were surprisingly known not for their offense, but rather a staunch defense that kept the team in most games. After the 1992 season and the WLAF folded, Chan briefly returned to the NCAA football level, but in 1994 he’d be hired by the Steelers where he’d stay through 1997. He’d serve as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 1998 and 1999, but could never shake the image as Jerry Jones’ puppet and that his teams were not tough enough. Even though his teams would make the playoffs both season and lose after the first round, (and Troy Aikman felt that Gailey was a prehistoric dinosaur) Chan would not be detained as the Cowboys head coach. He’d be hired almost immediately to be offensive coordinator of the Dolphins in 2000 staying there through 2001, before returning home to Georgia Tech in 2002. His name got consideration for the head coaching jobs in both Pittsburgh and Miami. Gailey would coach Tech through 2007 and then be hired by the Chiefs in 2008 as offensive coordinator, but was demoted and not retained by the team. In a surprising move by the Buffalo Bills, in 2010 the team announced Chan Gailey as the team’s 15th head coach partially on a recommendation by former head coach Bill Cowher of the Steelers.
Gailey’s offensive philosophy is one that adapts itself to the players available on the team and along his stops, outside of his current one here in Buffalo, have been good at maximizing very average talent while more importantly hiding those players inefficiencies. The charge against him in response to this is that his teams’ offenses have been charged with being too conservative. I jump at the chance to get WLAF autographs and I got his autograph in a quick 7 days from the Bills office. I wish him all the luck but I honestly sent off so quickly for him because I haven’t given him much of a chance up there. The Bills have become a graveyard for good coaches. Below are his WLAF statistics.
W 12 L 7 T 1 Pct .600