Tag Archives: St. Louis Rams

Gray, Michael

Card: CFL All-World 1991
Acquired: IP 2019, San Antonio Commanders vs Salt Lake City Stallions

A few days before the game I looked over the coaching roster of the Stallions again, and with that I found the veritable gem in Michael Gray. Packing his card into my stash to take to the game, I figured I could lure him over and nab him either after the half or the game. I identified him early on when he was on the field in pre-game warmups and as SLC battled SA to a standstill at the half, I was able to get his attention and flashed the card and pen. His eyebrows lifted and he mouthed to me that he’d sign after the game. After the game concluded, Gray was the last to leave and lumbered over to sign my card. He was in a hurry, but he was really nice. I told him that if SLC had half the crowd we did, with the way that defensive line he was coaching was playing, that the Stallions will beat us in Salt Lake in a few weeks. He smiled and thanked me for being a fan and left.

Mike Gray joined the BC Lions of the CFL in 1984 after he had tryouts with the Seattle Seahawks in both 83 and 84. He took the league by storm in 1985, earning All-Star Honors and CFL Most Outstanding Rookie Award that year, racking up 13 sacks and 2 interceptions. The following year (1986) Mike added another 6 sacks to his name, before being snatched up by the Ottawa Rough Riders in the league’s equalization draft for 1987. Before the 87 season began, Mike was cut, but was picked up by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Much to both Ottawa and BC’s chagrin, Mike turned it up a notch for the Blue Bombers. From 1987 through 1989 he’d be one of the league’s most dominant defenders at defensive end averaging over 10 sacks and about 40 tackles a season. Gray played through the 1993 season, helping the Bombers to the 76th and 78th Grey Cups. During the 76th Grey Cup Mike came up with the game saving interception against his old team- the BC Lions- netting him Defensive Player of the Game Honors.

Mike has gone into coaching since his playing years ended, seeing stints in the CFL (BC Lions 1993-1994), the NFL (St. Louis Rams 1996-1997), and at the college level (Weber St. 1995, Oregon St 1997-2002, Kentucky 2003-2004, Oregon 2005-2008, UNLV 2010-2014). He was inducted into the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Hall of Fame in 2006, and in 2019 was the Defensive Line coach of the impressive Salt Lake City Stallions front.

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Gilbert, Garrett

Cards: Topps AAF 2019, Topps Now 2.17.19, Topps Now 2.25.19, Topps Now 3.23.19
Acquired: IP 2019, Fozzy Whittaker and Garrett Gilbert Football Camp

This event completely exceeded my expectations. Since it was raining, the event was held indoors at the Del Valle Sports Complex right next to the stadium. Instead of running through too many drills, Garrett and Fozzy ended up playing something with the kids that I hadn’t seen before but was total genius: Ultimate Football. It was fun and entertaining to watch. If this is what the XFL has in mind for their overtime periods, it looks like an exciting way to end a game.

Afterwards, Garrett and Fozzy set up autograph tables and signed everything for everyone- and I mean everything. If I had only won that last Topps AAF Now card of Garrett’s I would have run the table- but as it is I am happy that he signed these 4 cards. In fact he signed the 4 plus all the additional copies I had of the Topps AAF 2019 base cards that I ended up giving away to all my hobby friends/ contacts- with the stipulation that they send Garrett a thank-you note.

I also got to finally meet one of my new proteges in person- Mark, and we talked for a few minutes about the hobby before disembarking for the afternoon. It was a very successful time, and I did get to talk to Garrett briefly about the AAF.

Garrett is the son of former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert. He was highly recruited coming out of high school and reminded many teams of the Oliver Luck- Andrew Luck connection. Texas was ecstatic to get him and groomed him to be Colt McCoy’s heir when he left UT. Things don’t necessarily go as planned, and as UT was still in its prime fans were expecting another title run. UT worked its way through the schedule in 2009, and fought its way into national title contention. It was a big game against Alabama, and Colt McCoy was singlehandedly giving Alabama a run for its money- but then he got injured. Garrett who was a Freshman came in, and while he did give Alabama a fight for its money initially- he turned the ball over 5 times and Texas lost the game. It was not the best situation for Garrett to get his first meaningful game time.

Things were optimistic going into 2010, and Gilbert was named starting QB at Texas, but the team slipped to 5-7- Texas’ first losing record in over 10 years. Fans were calling already for Mack Brown’s head, so the head coach put every job up for grabs including quarterback. Garrett lost out in camp in 2011 to David Ash and Case McCoy. Nursing a shoulder injury he decided to transfer out of Texas.

Fans treated Gilbert badly although he spent a lot of his time in the Austin area. He transferred to SMU which most people scoffed at- but in reality, this was a great move for him, playing under offensive guru and quarterback whisperer June Jones.

After a rough start in 2012, Garrett really turned the corner in 2013, posting career college highs in nearly all categories (335 completions, 66.5% completion percentage, 3,528 yards, 21 TDs to just 7 interceptions, and a 136.2 QB rating. He also set numerous SMU and a few UT records while at each school.

Garrett was selected in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the then St Louis Rams. He then spent time on practice squads and emergency quarterback roles around the league from 2014 to 2016 (Rams, Patriots, Lions, Raiders, Panthers), never really getting his chance to show what he could do.

Gilbert decided to give the AAF a shot to jumpstart his career. He’d be selected by the Orlando Apollos during the QB draft and hone his skills under Steve Spurrier. It was a great combination as Gilbert ended up being the defacto league MVP. Clear and away the best QB in the league, Gilbert led the league in most passing categories. He’d earn league offensive player of the week honors after blasting the San Antonio Commanders- throwing for a league record 393 yards. He even got some notoriety for catching a pass for a touchdown on a trick play. Things were looking really good for Gilbert and the Apollos as they zoomed out to a 7-1 record and claimed the division title outright.

It was then the league collapsed. The Apollos were caught by surprise by the announcement. There would be no playoffs. No championship. No crowning of a winner. No MVP. It. Was. Over. Just like that.

Despite the collapse of the AAF, Garrett has been able to parlay his achievements with the league into a contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Richardson, Daryl

Card: Donruss Rookies & Stars 2013
Acquired: In Person 2018, AAF San Antonio Commanders Season Ticket Holders Party

I really had to scramble to find a Daryl Richardson card before I left for the season ticket holders party. Worried that the cards I ordered wouldn’t arrive in time, I went and dug through my card boxes twice before I left. I thought that I had at least one card of Daryl somewhere that had possibly been given to me by Spoodog. The night before I left I came across Daryl’s Rookies & Stars entry from 2013. It was a gem to start with. 

Overall it was a good event. Players were easy to talk to- almost shy being approached, but Daryl handled the spotlight magnificently with his trademark dreads and wife and kid in tow. When I showed him this card he got really animated, and we talked about being new fathers for a bit. He then welcomed me to follow him on Twitter, where I quickly found out that another fellow collector was a big fan. 

His Rookies & Stars entry is really nice. This set is a good departure from the terrible look of the 2012 set. If I had been a collector back then or this set was cheap enough, I’d probably try to plunk down enough change to pick it up. The foreground image of Richardson is strong. He looks heroic bursting from the canvas in front of the design. The background is smartly blurred, and although Daryl’s feet look cut off because they do not continue below the logos, it could still be considered a design decision. 

My silver sharpie dried out and the backup I had with me also dried up. Final lessons learned on sharpies: Stick to blue if you have to use a basic sharpie. Silver, black and just about any other color react badly to humidity and after a while will dry out… And- always pack a second sharpie in case the first one is dead. I tested the sharpies before I went inside the covered stadium, but I guess the humidity sapped them up immediately. I ran off to the entry table where the girls running the event let me borrow the- brown one. It worked in a cinch, but I couldn’t get them to let me use blue or black. 

Daryl was the second to last pick of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Abilene Christian. He’d beat out Isiah Pead in camp to become Steven Jackson‘s primary backup. A low to the ground, compact, elusive runner, Daryl ran for 475 yards his rookie year. He also displayed soft hands out of the backfield, catching 24 passes.  Injuries slowed him his final two seasons in St Louis.

He’d be released in 2014 and sign with the Jets where he was on and off the practice squad of the franchise through 2015. The Texans signed Daryl next, and then later in 2015 the Browns signed and waived him as well. The next year he spent nearly the entire year with the Steelers on their practice squad. Claimed off of waivers by the Jaguars in 2016, Daryl was released by both the Jags and Colts in 2017. 

With the advent of Spring football nearly upon the masses again in not only the XFL but the AAF, I decided to throw my hat in the ring with the San Antonio team when it was announced with the AAF. Richardson was one of my ‘big heart’ selections by the Commanders. He’s a ‘do it all’ kinda guy who fits what the team needs, especially in a 3rd down back. Unfortunately facing unusually stiff competition from Aaron Green, Trey Williams, Kenneth Farrow II, and David Cobb- left my fan favorite on the way out. Daryl was cut but hopefully his football dreams will continue with another shot elsewhere.