On a hunch I packed a few cards of Kevin Smith to Robert Wilson’s book signing for Big Hits & Politics. I had seen Kevin liking Robert’s posts on Twitter and took a shot he’d show up. Robert walked me right up to him and I promptly pulled out some cards for him to sign- much to his surprise. He had a good laugh when I told him I was a regular on those humid days at Dallas Cowboys Training Camp at St. Edwards back in the early ’90s. He was the cherry on top that I’d made the right decision that day to attend as I squared not only Robert Wilson and Richmond Webb away, but also Kevin as well. Well worth the trip.
I mean, there’s probably just a few more cards that I’d like Kevin to sign, including his GameDay 1993, but it’s not a burning need, even though I had his card and found it later after attending the event.
CARDS: Pro Set 1989, Pro Set 1990, Pro Set 1992 ACQUIRED: TTM 2022, C/o Home SENT: 3/22/22 RECEIVED: 4/15/22 (24 DAYS)
Jim Mora played college ball (TE) at Occidental, graduating in 1957.
Went into coaching at his Alma Mater in 1960 as a positional coach, later being promoted to head coach in 1964.
Earned a Master’s in Education in ’67 and promptly moved to Stanford, after compiling an 18-9 record.
After a year with The Cardinal as LB coach, joined the staff at Colorado filling multiple defensive positional coaching assignments, working there through 1973.
Spent a year at UCLA in ’74- then joined Washington’s staff as a DC in 1975.
In 1978, Jim made the jump to the pros, working with the Seattle Seahawks as a defensive line coach through 1981, and then in ’82 with the Patriots in the same capacity.
1983 would be the first of many bellwether years for Mora, as he’d ascend to head coach, taking over for the Philadelphia/ Baltimore Stars in the USFL.
His teams would go 48-13-1, appearing in 3 USFL championship games, winning 2.
In 1985, Mora took over the perennially beleaguered New Orleans Saints, turning the moribund franchise around.
By 1987, he led the Saints to new levels of respectability, posting a 12-3 record and earning the franchise’s first playoff berth.
Team won a franchise best (at the time) 9 games straight.
A 10-6 record in 1988 disappointingly didn’t lead the Saints back to the playoffs, after they lost out on tie breakers to the Los Angeles Rams.
The NFC West was incredibly competitive at the time, and after a 9-7 record in 1989, the Saints again found themselves on the outside looking in.
1990 saw the Saints break through to the playoffs again and the following season, New Orleans won the division outright for the first time in the franchise’s history.
In each post season appearance, the Saints were bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
Mora coached with the Saints through 1996, resigning about midway through a very difficult season.
After a year working as a commentator for NBC, Jim heard the siren’s call to return to coaching, taking over as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 1998.
In 1999, guided the franchise to the largest turnaround in NFL history, going from 3-13 to 13-3.
Refusing to fire some of his staff to appease management, Mora was terminated after the 2001 season.
Mora since that point has become an on air personality for the NFL Network and also did some work in radio as well.
New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame
NFL Coach of the Year 1987
Occidental Athletics Hall of Fame
Jim’s also known for some quality soundbites up there with guys like Bill Parcells. An intense guy. I was sure he’s signed, “Playoffs? Playoffs?”, Too many times to count, so I felt just asking for his autograph on these three cards was a mercy bullet.
I loved Jim’s coaching style. Albeit it was a bit conservative- well really conservative up there with ‘Martyball’, he favored strong running games supported by nasty defenses. He was instrumental in convincing defensive stars to sign with the Saints from the USFL after its dissolution.
When the Texans got rid of Dom Capers, Jim was on my shortlist to replace him alongside Marty at the time, and I wondered why neither was interviewed, because they had a habit of quickly returning and rebuilding teams into a level of unprecedented… respectability. While he didn’t manage to get his NFL teams over the hump, I always felt he was a great sandbox team builder and coach. I would’ve loved to see him come out on top.
Jim has a decent coaching tree that includes branches Dom Capers, Vince Fangio, Bruce Arians, Jim Haslett and his son Jim Mora Jr.
Loved the 1992 card of Jim. Great lighting and profile shot. Takes the cake easy. The TM on the back of the card next to the NFL shield is missing. It’s an UER, and worthless. The ’90 entry had some variants that all based on black or white type for his profile on the back. Also no big deal there.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.