Tag Archives: players who should be in the HoF

Watters, Ricky ‘Running’

aprks91 rwatters stpi91 rwatters

Cards: Action Packed Rookies 1991, Star Pics 1991
Acquired: TTM 2011, C/o Home
Sent:  2/14/11              Received: 12/10/15       (1760 days)

Ricky Watters really distinguished himself at Notre Dame not only as just a runningback but as a flanker for the Irish (after Tim Brown departed for the NFL) in 1988.  He’d help the team secure the National Championship at the conclusion of the year. Ricky returned to his native position in 1989 and finished second in team rushing yards behind Tony Rice.  He ended his college career at ND with 1,814 yards rushing and 2,424 yards receiving. A surprisingly nimble return man, Watters also had 502 yards and 3 TDs on punts. Ricky had an extremely unique rushing style that allowed him to absorb hits while staying upright, and dodge would be ankle tackles by high-stepping.  Big and fast, with exceptional and fluid quickness to the hole, Ricky was considered a very good athlete by scouts, but they were unsure of his ability to run north-south.  San Fransisco selected Ricky in the second round with the fourth pick in the 1991 draft. Watters had his work cut out for him, being in the unenviable position of replacing longtime stalwart back Roger Craig.

Ricky’s rookie season was a complete loss for the 49ers as he spent the whole year shelved on injured reserve. He’d return for 1992 to pick up the slack and run for over 1,000 yards and a Pro Bowl appearance. While his next two seasons were middling near 1,000 yards rushing, it was really his ability to catch out of the backfield that made Watters an adaptable and dangerous runningback. In Super Bowl XXIX, Watters scored 3 touchdowns, but was beaten out for MVP honors by Steve Young.

In 1995, Ricky signed a lucrative free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles helping to turn around the franchise’s bad fortunes. Running Waters had 1,707 yards from scrimmage that year, and led the league the next year in both carries (353) and yards from scrimmage (1,855). Despite having a pretty good season in 1997, Ricky was allowed to leave for greener pastures in 1998- signing with the Seattle Seahawks. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the next 3 seasons, and another 1,855 yards from scrimmage in 2000, but he did not earn Pro Bowl honors again. Overshadowed by young Shaun Alexander in Seattle, Watters entered a period of semi-retirement after the 2001 season.  He was contacted by many teams including the Eagles, Bucs, and Colts, but eventually opted to retire.

Watters’ body has suffered from the punishment of the hits he took over the years- A byproduct of 2,622 carries and 467 receptions. He like many players suffers from concussions, and is a member of the concussion litigation group that took the league to court. Many of his injuries were misdiagnosed and healed incorrectly, such as his cracked sternum. He also suffers from arthritis. Despite all this Ricky gives back to the community by through the Ricky Watters Foundation, coaching, and around the Orlando area, where he hopes to instill grounded values into his boys. He loves to paint and recently went back to school to receive his degree in Graphic Design from Notre Dame.

Watters is a member of the vaunted 10,000 yard club and finished with 5 Pro Bowl appearances. His 3 TDs from scrimmage during Super Bowl XXIX ties a mark held by Jerry Rice, Terrell Davis, and Roger Craig. Running Waters also holds two other interesting distinctions: He along with Willis McGahee are the only two runningbacks to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season with 3 different teams. His career long carry of 57 yards is also the lowest among runningback with over 10,000 yards- meaning he really ground out the yards.

While he has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he has not made it to the final cut.

Many years ago, I mailed the 49ers for Ricky’s autograph on the Action Packed Rookies card, but when I received the card back, it was stamped on the back. When I returned to the hobby in 2010, I decided to get this card signed again. I did not realize how long I’d wait as this response is now the longest wait/response in my collection.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a total stranger on Facebook, asking me if I had lived in California. Well after a long conversation it was revealed that the new tenant at my old address (from which the forwarding had expired some- 3 years ago or so) had received a few pieces of mail of mine, so I kindly gave her my forwarding address.

About a week or two later, I received a really nice Christmas card from her. Inside was a handwritten note, that warmed my heart. I had always wondered what it was like to receive a TTM request, and this really almost felt like it, especially when they told me that they had been looking for me for such a long time and how much it mattered to them to get these autographs in the right hands.

Lo and behold were autographs from Ricky Watters and Bruce Lasane (both circa 2011).  The people who mailed them to me asked nothing in return except that I have a Merry Christmas. (I am still going to send them a gift card or something.)

It’s so hard in this world now, to genuinely take people at face value when they just want to do something good for you. It’s so easy to not trust, or believe that there’s a hidden motivation behind everyone’s actions. I could have just said, “No way, I’m not giving you my address!”, but instead I just went with my gut and the sincerity that was contained in the original message. Anyway, if there is a moral to be learned from this, I guess it’s that there are good strangers in this world.  Merry Christmas everybody!

G/Gs 144/142     Rush 2622    Yds   10643      Avg 4.1     Td 78      Lg 57
Rec  467          Yds 4248          Avg9.1         Td 13            Lg 65

 

 

 

Stabler, Ken “The Snake” (1945-2015)

to81 stabler to82 stabler

Cards: Topps 1981, Topps 1982
Acquired: TTM 2013, C/o XoXo Foundation*
Sent:  2/25    Received:  5/11    (75 days)
*Donation suggested of $10 per flat.

Okay, so I’m fine with paying a small signers fee for an autograph or two. I’ve gotten to that point in TTM collecting that I’ll indulge myself from time to time on that, but there are two things that get on my nerves. First and foremost, I expect it to be an authentic signature from the player- not an autopen or ghost signer. (I heard OJ Simpson had done this during one of his many legal battles. He will take your money, however much or little it is, and then hand it off to a ghost signer.) It’s got to be legit and consistent from piece to piece (see Ottis Anderson).  Second and finally, when you cash my check, it tells me: “I acknowledge I have received your item and I have completed my end of the transaction,” – namely signing my cards. Having me wait an additional 2 months after that? That’s a bit egregious. I understand if a player has personal problems they are dealing with; That is no problem, but really, the whole turnaround should be more like 2 weeks tops. Anyway, case in point, on the second peeve is right here in Kenny Stabler.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to have the autograph, but out of fear of the ‘mail gods’ voracious appetite, I had to consider cancelling the check and getting new cards to send. Much more hassle than what it was worth, especially if I just wanted to take a chance that he’d sign it without a donation.

Kenny Stabler followed in the footsteps of Broadway Joe Namath at Alabama during the mid-60s, where Stabler carved his own legacy into the Crimson Tide leader books, posting a 28-3-2 record as a starter. He finished 180/303 for 2196 yards, 18  TDs to 18 int, 838 yards on the ground, and 9 touchdowns, all in a little over 2 years as a starter.  The gruff quarterback was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1968 NFL draft (- the second such common pooling of players between the rival NFL and AFL that has now become the norm,) by the Oakland Raiders. Unable to crack the lineup, he found himself playing in the Continental Football League for the Spokane Shockers to pass the time. Things started off slowly for the West Coast rock star QB, as he had to unseat incumbent Darryle Lamonica first. By 1973 however, The Snake was in charge full time for the Raiders, and in 1977, the Silver and Black won its first Super Bowl. During this period the renegade qb flirted with the idea of joining the fledgling WFL and the Birmingham Americans (but the league suffered serious financial setbacks and was unable to last past the 1975 season).  Stabler reached a point in his career where he was basically the West Coast version of Joe Namath- except The Snake was considered a rock star. Things were at their zenith for the Raiders after their Super Bowl win, as Stabler became the fastest quarterback to 100 wins with his penchant for miracle plays and comebacks that were legendary. A prolonged holdout and subpar play doomed his tenure in Oakland, so in 1980, he was traded straight up for Dan Pastorini to the Oilers.

From the Raiders to the Oilers wasn’t such a bad leap for Stabler. Working with Earl Campbell and coach Bum Philips wasn’t such a bad thing either, but the Oilers failed to advance in the playoffs that year, so owner Bud Adams, (who couldn’t keep a good party going if it hit him in the mouth,) fired Philips after the season. The Oilers stumbled into mediocrity under embattled head coach Ed Biles so the Snake took his game after the 1981 season to the New Orleans Saints, where he was reunited with Philips, for the final 3 injury plagued seasons of his career before he retired in 1984.

Stabler has remained popular in football circles, both as a Raider and as a member of the Crimson Tide. He’s spent time in the broadcasting booth and done a lot of charity work through the XOXO Stabler Foundation. He’s had some legal run-ins with the law over back taxes, and besides having his own drink briefly (called Snake Venom,) Stabler has also dabbled in wine making.

One can make an argument for Kenny Stabler needing to be in the HoF, based on his accolades as the 1974 NFL MVP, a Super Bowl champ, 4 time Pro Bowler,  2 time AP, part of the NFL All 1970s team, and for basically owning all the Raiders record book after he left the team, but at this time, injustice remains done, and the honor has escaped the renegade Snake.

Ken Stabler passed away quietly at the age of 69, surrounded by friends and family on July 9th, 2015.

G/Gs  184       Att 3793       Comp 2270      Yds  27938      Pct  59.8     Td   194     Int 222    Rat 75.3   |
Rush 118   Yds 93    Avg  .8    Td 4     Lg 18

Hull, Kent (1961-2011)

Card: Bowman 1992
Acquired: Canton Acquisition 2012

Kent Hull flew under the NFL radar after he graduated from Mississippi State in 1983, but the New Jersey Generals of the USFL would be waiting to swoop him up. He’d block up front for Herschel Walker and Maurice Carthon, paving their way to 1,000+ yard seasons each in 1984, and then blocking for quarterback Doug Flutie in 1985. When the USFL ran into financial trouble the Generals and Houston Gamblers were merged. Jim Kelly was to be his quarterback with wide receiver Ricky Sanders, and coach Jack Pardee running the show in the prolific Run ‘N Shoot, but the league collapsed before it could take the field again.

Kelly and Hull were almost immediately reunited in Buffalo and both became instant starters helping to energize a once woeful Bills team. Buffalo quickly assembled talent and marched into the playoffs with their Hurry Up Offense. With the final piece assembled in 1989 in the form of future Hall of Fame runningback Thurman Thomas, the Bills reached the Superbowl an unprecedented 4 times during the 1990s. During that span Kent started 121 straight games at center, from 1986-1993, and retired after the 1996 season.

In addition to his 3 ProBowl appearances, Hull was named to the Bills’ 50th Anniversary All-Time team in 2009, and inducted into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame in 2002. Jim Kelly called him one of the finest players that he ever played with and his best friend. Considered a smart tactician, Hull called plays for the line and also was a team captain for 7 seasons.  Kent Hull passed away at home on October 18th, 2011 and is survived by his wife and two children.