Cards: Topps 1985, ProSet World League 1991, Wild Card WL 1992 Acquired: TTM 2020, 2021 C/o Home Sent: 9/9 Received: 9/25 (16 days) Failure: TTM 2012, C/o Home
Bruce Clark was a consensus All-American defensive end for the Penn State Nittany Lions posting 19 sacks over his college career, winning the first Lombardi Award as a Junior in 1978. Originally a linebacker who converted to defensive tackle, Bruce was not only still extremely quick after packing on the extra bulk, he was incredibly strong.
He was selected in the first round (4th overall) of the 1980 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, but opted in a shocker to play in Canada instead with the Toronto Argonauts. You see, Bruce was fine playing DT or DE, but with the Packers switching to a 3-4 alignment, they had this idea that at 6’2″, 260, Clark was going to play nose. He didn’t want that, and he didn’t like how the Pack was being run from an organizational standpoint.
After two stellar seasons in the CFL, Bruce decided to play in the NFL. Reiterating his desire to play somewhere else than the ‘Siberia’ of the NFL or nose tackle, the Packers traded Bruce to the Saints for their #1 pick in the 1983 draft.
Much maligned for his surgically repaired knee coming out of Penn State, Bruce started 88 consecutive games for the Saints and was an anchor for the Saints defense at left defensive end. His best season came in 1984 when he earned his only pro bowl appearance, racking up 10.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and his only career interception. He’d join the Chiefs in 1989 for his final season, dressing for 11 contests.
Bruce opted to play in the World League of American Football in 1991 and declared for the league’s supplemental pool of eligible players and was selected in the first round by the Barcelona Dragons. As one of the oldest players in the WLAF, Bruce’s leadership and experience was appreciated by the Dragons’ defense, as he paced their solid team with 7 sacks. He opted to retire after the 1991 season.
Bruce has been on my long short list for a while, and his name popped up recently, so I was ecstatic to shoot something out to him. He signed these two cards quickly, but I had to try him again, since the sharpie quality is poor, his autograph look like it smudged slightly, and he switched out my Wild Card WL 92 for a Topps 85. Early in 2021, I decided to try again, and he graciously signed the Wild Card WL I still needed for the set.
Card: ProSet World League 1991 Acquired: 2020, EBay Failure: TTM 2010 and 2016, C/o Home
Tracy Simien played during the late Jurassic era of the SWC for the Texas Christian Horned Frogs from 1985-1988. During that period he switched positions 4 times, from center and guard as a freshman, and then as a nose tackle during his sophomore campaign, finally landing at defensive end during his junior season. Over his time at TCU, Tracy compiled 193 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks. Reputed to bench at the time over 400 pounds, Tracy slipped through the cracks of the 1989 NFL Draft, but found a home on the developmental roster of the Steelers that season, seeing some action in the divisional playoff game against the Broncos. In 1990 he joined the Chiefs developmental squad- where he was then became one of the first ‘big name’ NFL Enhancement Players to sign with the World League for the 1991 season.
Tracy made quite a splash for the Montreal Machine at linebacker that year. During the league’s debut weekend, he’d wear USA Network’s Helmet Cam making quite a splash during the team’s win over the Birmingham Fire 20-5. His bone crushing hits and plays were amazing to watch, and he finished with 4 tackles and a sack in the exciting contest. After the dust settled from that year, Simien had 33 tackles, 5 sacks, and a fumble recovery- good for first team All-World Honors in 1991.
Simien became one of the league’s early poster children for success, as he parlayed his experience and seasoning into a starting role with the Chiefs in 1991 at LILB. In 1992 he’d lead KC in tackles with 97, and lead the linebacker corps with 3 interceptions at MLB. He’d follow up his solid ’92 campaign with a career high 105 tackles in 1993 back at LILB. Over the next following 3 seasons Tracy finished with over 70 tackles playing again back at MLB. After the 1998 season, he signed with the San Diego Chargers- retiring after the season.
I was frustrated with my lack of success with Tracy so when I saw this reasonably priced autograph on Ebay, that matched previous ones of his, I went ahead and pulled the trigger, confident I had acquired the real deal.
Tracy has dabbled in coaching, imparting his knowledge that he learned in the NFLE with the Cologne Centurions from 2005 and 2007, and the Houston Texans in 2006.
As a local from Spain, Xisco Marcos became the Barcelona Dragons unofficial mascot and was undeniably fans’ favorite player. He also provided tour guide services to other players and educated them about the area and the culture as well.
An Operation Discovery product, Xisco played football in Spain’s American Football League reaching the league’s equivalent of their Super Bowl, and was known in that league for making tough grabs and having sticky fingers. With a pretty deep roster at WR, Xisco didn’t see much action on the field for the Dragons, playing for the franchise in 1991, 1992, and 1995. He’d catch one pass over his career in the World League for 5 yards.
Xisco had become a white whale for me, and after much research I found him in Mallorca- a city on the Balearic Islands of Spain. (You can barely see it creeping up off the top of the bottom of the interior of the facemask.) Eventually I dropped these two cards to him in the mail where I quickly got an RTS because the local PO didn’t know where the Balearic Islands were… So after waiting a few months I was sure to go into the PO and discuss with them that the Balearic Islands of Spain were a real place.
Xisco responded to me in about 3 months time writing me an incredibly nice note.
“I remember very fondly the trip to San Antonio, as I could see, Texas charmed me, and I’m sure Austin must be a beautiful place to live.”
With Xisco’s autograph, I now only have remaining the two deceased players from the franchise card set, Demetrius Davis and Barry Voorhess. While Xisco’s response isn’t the furthest I’ve corresponded with a player, it certainly wins the prize for the most exotic return.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.