Card: ProSet 1989 Acquired: IP 2020, Houston Roughnecks/ Tampa Bay Vipers Joint Practice
After graduating from Drake University, Dennis McKnight signed with the Cleveland Browns in 1981, but didn’t make the squad. The following year, he signed with the Chargers. A gem in the rough, McKnight possessed versatility that allowed him to see action at every position on the offensive line (except at left tackle) over his time in San Diego. A gym rat, Dennis also was the team’s long snapper, and was a Pro Bowl alternate in 1988. He joined the Lions and played for them in 1990 and 1992, with a short stint in Philadephia in between during ’91. Over his football career he played in 141 contests, starting 100.
Dennis enjoys the sport so much that he went into coaching in 1999. As a positional coach he’s seen stops in college at Hawaii, Grossmont CC, San Diego State, SMU, and Lamar University. McKnight has also coached in the CFL for the Esks, and Ti-Cats. In 2020 he joined June Jones’ coaching staff for the Houston Roughnecks as Offensive Assistant/ Special Teams coach.
I completely missed Dennis on my inventory of Roughnecks players and coaches. Thankfully Lance was going with me to the joint practice, and brought an extra card for me. Dennis still posesses a strong and powerful build. When he speaks, its excited and loud, like a professional wrestler.
We watched him work with the kids after practice. I was very impressed by how he was handling them, and at one point exclaimed, “The whole point of this is to have fun!” As he was exiting, we stopped him and asked him for his autograph, where we talked about the current state of things. He thanked us for coming and how much it meant to the players. We also talked briefly about how the NFL is out of touch with fans and that they are missing out on the game of football.
Vincent Jackson’s pro career started back in 2005- when Drew Brees still played for the San Diego Chargers. A second round pick out of Northern Colorado, Jackson earned All-American honors as a punt returner and is the school’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, kick return yards, punt return yards, and receiving touchdowns. He grew slowly into the Chargers offense, but with maturation of Philip Rivers at quarterback, Vincent posted back to back 1,000 yard receiving seasons in 2008 and 2009- earning his first Pro Bowl trip in the latter year. After an injury shortened 2010, Vincent returned to form and the Pro Bowl in 2011.
A coveted free agent in 2012, Vincent opted to sign with the Buccaneers and continued his Pro Bowl form. He’d post career highs with 1,384 yards, a 19.2 yard average, and a 95 yard long (average and long catch led the NFL). Jackson posted 2 more 1,000+ yard seasons in both 2013 and 2014, wrapping up his career after the 2016 season.
A beautiful card here of Vincent Jackson from Donruss in the final year of the company before the label transitioned over to Panini. Gold Stars was a subset of cards I really liked and I loved the gold paint blotch where they affixed the autograph sticker to. A very nice touch. The two road stripes at the bottom pretty much gave us a roadmap per say into what the 2010 edition was going to look like.
Mike Dyal played collegially for Texas A&I University. Initially recruited as a QB, Mike just kept getting bigger and bigger, and moved from QB to WR, eventually settling at TE. Despite having soft hands, decent speed, and good blocking skills, Mike was not drafted in the 1988 NFL Draft. A lot of it had to do with small school stigma- but Mike was on the radar of many team’s priority free agent list. His agent convinced him his best shot was joining the Raiders, where an aging Todd Christensen was the starter, and the long snapper was his backup. He made an impression in camp, and then took a dive so he could make the squad and become the heir to Christensen at the TE position for the Raiders the following season.
In 1989, Mike had his best season as a pro, starting all 16 games for LA. He caught 27 passes for 499 yards- a whopping 18.5 yards per reception and 2 TDs- including a career long 67 yarder. 1990 and 1991 were largely a wash for Mike due to injury, but by the time he returned to the lineup, the position was in different hands under Ethan Horton. He spent 3 games with the Chiefs in in 92, and then split time between the Chiefs and Chargers in 1993 before retiring.
I had no clue that Mike was a living locally in Central Texas. Once I found that out, I wrote him pretty soon afterwards. He responded very quickly on these 3 cards. While Mike’s career was modestly brief as a starter, he made the most of it, appearing on many of the popular brands of the day. These three cards were my favorite of his, with the Fleer sticking out the most to me with a dynamic frontal shot of him with his helmet breaking the plane of the image design.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.