Tag Archives: pro set 1989

McNeil, Freeman

Cards: Fleer 1990, ProSet 1989
Acquired: TTM 2020, C/o Home
Sent: 10/19 Received: 11/17 (29 days)

Freeman McNeil was one of these players that rarely, if ever signed. I had pencilled him in for a paid signing with a stiff fee last year, but forgot about the event. Then a new event was cancelled due to the pandemic. Fast forward to mid-September 2020, and I saw a response for him come across SCN, so I quickly popped these two cards in the mail. As the successes slowly trickled in, mine showed up after about 30 days of waiting. Considering that up to this year Freeman was a career 1 for 30 type of guy, I was pretty happy to add him to the collection on these beautiful cards.

Freeman’s career was already on the back nine when I became familiar with him as a kid through trading cards and Starting Lineup figurines. He was a solid back and very productive, but injuries derailed what could’ve been a hall of fame career. – And back in the 80s when you needed to have a knee or ankle procedure? Something like that could end your career. Freeman was the epitome of the walking wounded. When he was a rookie in 81 his season ended due to a sprained foot. In 1983, he landed badly and separated his shoulder and then in 84, he broke some ribs… 1986 saw Freeman dislocate his elbow… and in 87 he got lucky and just pulled his hammy very, very badly. It’d be in 1989, McNeil ripped his knee ligaments. All in all, over 12 seasons, Freeman only played 2 full 16 game slates.

Freeman played for the UCLA Bruins from 1977-1980. He had 1,396 yards rushing in 1979, and 1,105 yards in 1980. He’d be the second runningback selected in the 1981 NFL Draft, with the 3rd overall pick by the New York Jets. He ran for 623 yards his rookie year in 6 starts in his debut NFL season. In 1982, Freeman ran for 786 yards on 151 carries in 9 strike shortened games. His 786 yards and 5.2 yards per carry led the league. (It is notably the only time in NFL history that a Jets runningback has led the league in rushing.) He’d earn his first Pro Bowl and only All Pro nomination for that season.

The Jets were a team during that period that ran the ball heavily. Once Johnny Hector was brought on board, the offense was referred to as a ‘two headed monster’. In 1984 Freeman broke the 1,000 yard barrier for the first time, rushing for 1,070 on 229 carries. Then in 1985, McNeil rushed for a career high 1,331 yards on 294 carries. – Again, all the more impressive as he and Hector were splitting time in the backfield.

Although Freeman didn’t break the 1,000 yard barrier again throughout the remainder of his career, he managed to put together campaigns in 1986 (856 yards) and 1988 (944 yards) that put him close enough. By 1990, Freeman began passing the torch to the next man up, which by that point was Blair Thomas and Brad Baxter. McNeil retired after the 1992 season as the franchise’s all time leading rusher with 8,074 yards, (since surpassed by Curtis Martin).

He has been inducted into the Jets Ring of Honor and the Nassau County (NY) Hall of Fame.

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144/97179880744.53869
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295296110.01259

Gray, Jerry “Jed”

utud11 grayCards: Upper Deck 2011, Upper Deck 2011 NCAA, Pro Set 1989, Pro Set 1990 Pro Bowl, Pro Set 1992.
Acquired: 2015, Box Break. TTM 2015, C/o The Minnesota Vikings
Sent: 1/9/15    Received: 4/17/15  (98 days)
Failure: TTM 2010, C/o Home

Another elusive Ram is off my list, as I was finally able to secure UT great Jerry Gray.  With a slew of really good cards and moments in Jerry’s career I wished to immortalize with an autograph,  I settled on four of them, but Jerry kindly added an extra. Despite my earlier failure, Gray remains a fairly dependable signer in the TTM circuit.

utud11 gray AAJerry Gray is considered one of the greatest defensive backs in the history of the University of Texas playing there from 1982 to 1984. His 16 career interceptions is ranked third on the all-time list, while his 7 interceptions in a season during 1984 is good for second all-time at the institution.  Gray was also a devastating hitter and sure handed tackler, recording 297 career tackles while playing at safety.  A rare physical specimen, Jerry was 6’1″, 185, and ran the 40 in  4.4 flat. Even more impressive was his track numbers that emphasized his long distance speed.

pset89 grayThe Los Angeles Rams selected Gray in the first round of the 1985 draft at slot number 21.  Although the San Antonio Gunslingers held Gray’s territorial rights in the USFL, they did not make a pitch to him.  Head Coach John Robinson moved Gray to left cornerback, and Jerry played on special teams as well- something that he readily accepted and enjoyed.

It wouldn’t be until his second season in the league that Jerry became regarded as a dangerous ballhawk. He’d start all 16 games and record a career high 8 interceptions for 101 yards.  As Gray began to let his presence be known as a force to be reckoned with in the NFC West, teams began avoiding him with regularity, but that would not stop him from being selected to 4 straight Pro Bowl appearances.

pset90 gray PBIt’d be in the 1990 Pro Bowl that I perhaps most fondly remember Jerry. After a fine 1989 campaign, when he recorded 6 interceptions for 48 yards and a TD, Jerry earned his final Pro Bowl nod. Pro Bowls over the last 20 years have become an increasingly boring affair, however this one in particular was keyed by defense and an exciting last minute rally by the AFC.  Gray keyed the NFC defensive effort with 6 tackles, and an interception that he returned for a Pro Bowl record 54 yards and a TD. Jerry earned the 1990 Pro Bowl MVP award for his efforts in a 27-21 win.

Before Jerry could continue his meteoric rise, Gray blew out his left knee and had to get arthroscopic surgery during the 1990 preseason. He’d start in 12 games that season, but not make an interception. Sensing a need for new blood at the position and having previous ornery salary negotiations with Gray, the Rams picked Todd Lyght in the first round of the 1991 draft. The writing was on the wall, and after a particularly bad game against the Falcons that season, Gray was replaced in the lineup.  Still Jerry managed to start 9 games, intercepting 3 passes for 83 yards and a TD.

pset92 grayJerry headlined the Free Agent lineup that hit the market in 1992. The Houston Oilers and Gray quickly came to terms. Jerry was excited to play for the Oilers as he had wanted to do so for a long time because of his ties to Texas and the chance to play for a perennial playoff contender. Jerry had a solid season for the Oilers at right corner with 6 interceptions for 24 yards and 2 forced fumbles. Following the Oilers loss in the playoffs versus the Buffalo Bills, owner Bud Adams elected to clean out the defensive staff. In came Buddy Ryan, who overnight quietly cut longtime defensive lineman Doug Smith and Jerry Gray.  Jerry signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quietly retiring after the 1993 season.

Jerry has been an exceptional coach at the pro and college level. He has been linked as a finalist to many head coaching jobs including ones in Tampa Bay and Washington. At one point Jerry was destined to return to the Longhorns as their defensive coordinator, but left the college at the altar for the Seattle Seahawks. As of 2015, Jerry is the defensive backs coach of the Minnesota Vikings. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Jerry Rice once said that Jerry Gray was the defensive back that gave him the most trouble over the years, and Gray is also well represented in Tecmo Super Bowl where his merchant speed makes interceptions come easy. Gray’s nickname ‘Jed’ is a reference to the Beverly Hillbillies TV show, that he was a big fan of.

G/Gs  134/103    Tac  N/a    Sac N/a     Fum  9
Int  28      Yds  374      Avg  13.4    TD  3    Lg 59t

 

 

Walsh, Steve (2)

pset89 walshCard: Pro Set 89
Acquired: TTM 2013, C/o Home
Sent: 5/3     Received: 5/13  (10 days)
See Also: Walsh, Steve

Steve Walsh is really fair to the TTM community, -well at least at the moment. He signs exactly one piece of memorabilia for fans, and mails it back out, even if you send 3 or 4, he just signs 1. Still he does sign, and he signs for nearly everybody, which is really nice of him to do. This brings up a great topic: sending multiples. I almost always will send at least 2 with few exceptions. It allows me to compare the autographs, and it makes my stamp go a little further. I try not to send more than 4, unless I include a donation or it’s an extremely special circumstance. I don’t want to be an inconvenience and be that guy who ran the well dry.

When I was at Cowboys’ training camp back, oh now, 20 years ago, that first year, I got Steve Walsh in the first few days I was there on a Score 1990 card. I later got this Pro Set card that I intended to get signed, but by the end of that time, Walsh was already traded to the New Orleans Saints. I had a tough choice in the end. There were many fine cards of Steve printed, from his Action Packed 1990 and 1991 cards, to his Score 1990 Supplemental or Pro Set 1990 card and update. In the end I chose this one, as Steve played for a bevvy of teams over his career, after following in the footsteps quarterback greats such as Vinny Testaverde, Bernie Kosar, and Jim Kelly, I felt he was best represented in his college colors from the University of Miami. Great Pro Set card here. I really liked the touch with the helmet up in the top left and the corner flag indicating that he was a #1 pick.