Tom Newberry was a 2nd round pick out of little known Wisconsin-La Crosse by the LA Rams in 1986. He developed so quickly in camp that the Rams felt comfortable moving long time offensive lineman Kent Hill to the Oilers as part of the Jim Everett trade. After settling in Tom earned AP honors in both 1988 and 1989. Versatile, durable, and aggressive, Tom was a fixture on the offensive line for the Rams throughout most of his career in LA starting 120 games at guard and 8 at center over 9 seasons. In 1995 Tom signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he played a final season for the team, and appeared in Super Bowl XXX.
Tom lives in Montana and is a big LOS ANGELES Rams fan. His autograph is pretty… pedestrian. I mean, Tom don’t get me wrong if you read this. I appreciate the subtle loop at the top of the T but everything else seems to fall into place with scribble for the last name. I think it says more about Tom’s workmanlike ethic that allowed him to stand out over his more prideful competitors over his well regarded career. I like the ProSet, Score, and GameDay cards a lot. They all show Tom pulling or blocking in every shot. His Fleer leaves much to be imagined, but it is still a well designed canvas.
Merril Hoge. Few players angered me more than Merril Hoge during the Red Gun/ Run ‘N Shoot era of the Houston Oilers. I considered him an ‘arch’ and he loved saying nasty things about the upstart Oilers, who by 1987 had started becoming bullies in the AFC Central under head coach Jerry Glanville. The Steelers had finally gone into a deep depression, and the Oilers were eager to take the stick to their rivals. Nobody expected much of the Steelers in 1989 as they had just come off of a 5-11 record from the previous year. Despite this they rallied down the stretch and put together a 9-7 record. The Oilers had thumped the Steelers twice during the regular season, but they’d be denied in the playoffs losing 26-23, causing Jerry to lose his job. I want to even say that Hoge said something to the media nasty about the Oilers, and it just stuck with me all those years.
I remember opening up my first packs of cards, and in a lot of cases, there was a Merril Hoge card to twist the knife just a little more. Even when I played Tecmo Super Bowl, I was reticent to use Merril because of the fact that he epitomized that Steelers working man mantra and the upset that made me so sore. Then after his playing days concluded, he became a commentator, and the Oilers left Houston even- I still got a furrowed brow when he’d come on ESPN.
Dependable fullback Merril Hoge played for the Idaho State Bengals (a fact often repeated by national commentators almost every time he touched the ball) from 1983 to 1986. He finished his 4 years there with almost 5500 all-purpose yards, but more importantly the Big Sky Conference despite its trappings, prepared him for the rigors of pro level offenses.
After being selected in the 10th round of the 1987 draft, Merril played 7 seasons for the Steelers at fullback. A versatile player out of the backfield, Merril was an excellent receiver and blocker who was rarely missed an assignment. He had a career high 772 yards rushing in 1990, and a career high 487 yards receiving in 1988.
In 1994, Merril signed with the Chicago Bears, but suffered a terrible neck injury ending his career. Merril is also a cancer survivor beating non-hodskin’s lymphoma.
Merril had a great selection of cards, so it was tough to even settle on just these 4. His Score 1990 is one of my favorite, and was from a rain soaked affair versus the Miami Dolphins that year. (Sammie Smith has a corresponding card from that game, and Mike Mularkey has been immortalized in a sports photo from that game that ProSet did.) His Action Packed 1991 card does everything right in this one, and the determination on Merril’s face really makes you feel as though you are a part of the action.
Another in a quiet, long line of receiving talent from Louisiana State University, Carlos Carson played for the Tigers from 1977-1979. He had an improbable 10 touchdown catches on 23 receptions in 1977, displaying fleet speed averaging 24 yards a catch. Selected in the 5th round of the 1980 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, Carlos had to initially cut his teeth at the pro level on special teams.
Carlos caught his first professional touchdown- a 53 yard barn burner on the opening weekend of 1981 in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. His production slowly ramped up over the years. In 1983 Carson earned his first Pro Bowl appearance when he had 80 receptions for 1351 yards and 7 TDs to lead the AFC. He had an equally impressive 1984 catching 57 passes for 1078 yards and 4 TDs. In 1987 Carlos logged 55 catches for 1044 yards and 7 TDs during a strike shortened season, earning his second and final Pro Bowl berth.
Carlos continued his career through 1989, splitting time with the Chiefs and Eagles in his final season. His 6360 receiving yards with the Chiefs over 10 seasons is no small matter, and his career 18.1 yards per catch is a franchise record. Carson played for a Chiefs franchise at the advent of the modern era passing game. Kansas City was caught flat footed, and frequently was undermanned at quarterback during his whole career.
KC doesn’t have a long line of wide receivers in their Ring of Honor, with just Chris Buford (1975) and Otis Taylor (1982) in it, so when Carlos was inducted in 2017- it was a great and long overdue honor. Carson is also a member of the Chiefs 40th Anniversary Team.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.