Tag Archives: St. Louis Rams

Lewis, Derek

Card: UT Upper Deck 2011 Memorable Moments
Acquired: TTM 2021, C/o Work
Sent: 1/11/21 Received: 1/19/21 (8 days)

Derek Lewis played tight end for the Texas Longhorns during the John Mackovic era from 1996 to 1998. He caught 20 passes for 192 yards and 2 TDs in 1997- good for 3rd (T) on the team. Lewis saved the best for last, in 1998. Although he’d only catch 18 passes for 236 yards, he caught 6 TD passes- good for second on the team. His biggest moment in the sun came in the first Big 12 Championship against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1996. Viewed as a marquee matchup of powerhouses, the game proved to be worth every penny.

“I was never intended to catch the ball. It was never intended to be thrown my way, however, at that point, James Brown looked at me and he trusted me.”

– Derek Lewis

Trailing late in the 4th quarter with 2:30 to go in the game, the Longhorns decided to go for it on 4th down and inches at their own 30. With a powerhouse runningback attack, everybody knew what was coming- but it was not. Instead Coach Mackovic called a bootleg, simply known as ‘Roll Left’. Under pressure, QB James Brown nimbly danced through traffic and found Derek Lewis all alone in the flat, and Derek did the rest, rumbling for 61 yards down to Nebraska’s 10 yard line. -It was a moment for the ages, and marked the pernicious end of the Cornhuskers dominance.

Derek ended up with the St Louis Rams and stuck on the roster for two years, but a knee injury ended his career. He ended up returning to his hometown of New Orleans- but after being held up as a bus driver, his dad advised him to finish up his degree. Derek got back in contact with his former coach Mack Brown, and Brown cut his teeth as an intern assistant in the weight room. From there, he worked his way up the coaching ranks with various stops at Minnesota, Air Force, Texas, and Florida. As of 2021, he’s head coach of Pinkston High School in Dallas, Tx.

He wrote me a very nice note thanking me for asking for his autograph, reminding me that the 25th anniversary of Roll Left is coming up quickly, and that he has a book coming out about it!

James Brown has been incredibly difficult to find TTM. I shrewdly arranged to get his certified card back when I did a case break many years ago, but the Memorable Moments subset do not have any certifieds, so I had to find a creative way to resolve this set since I am so close to completing it. Derek Lewis caught the pass from James, so it actually seemed as appropriate he’d appear on this card in some fashion, but they only make note of him briefly on the back.

At the time of this Memorable Moment in ’96, my life was very… rough. I had moved in with my girlfriend earlier that year that my family didn’t like. They reacted badly- obviously. We were very poor and were always late with rent, bills, and lucky to keep the lights on. While I tried to save my meager salary to pay for things, she blew it on Star Wars toys, got me to co-sign with her on a car driving us further into debt, and later eventually caused me to lose my job, and get my car briefly repossessed. It was a terrible time of my life filled with regrettable decisions. Eventually she was exposed for the beat dog she was, as she went back to her abusive boyfriend, in spectacular Jerry Springer fashion. It gave me a lot of time to reflect about the pitfalls of unconditional love, and the arrogance of believing in it.

This day was a more pleasant one than most. We watched the game snuggled up in a giant black bean bag eating a big plate of nachos. I remember when Derek caught that pass, I howled with excitement. I hadn’t been that excited about football in a while, as by then the Oilers were one foot out the door for Tennessee- and I wanted nothing to do with them at that point.

Bly, Dré

Card: Score 2010
Acquired: TTM 2020, C/o Home
Sent: Received: 11/30 (days)

Dré Bly was a second round pick of the then St. Louis Rams in 1999 out of North Carolina. A speedy cornerback, Dré finished his Freshman season at the school in 1996 with an unheard of 11 interceptions, and then later set the conference record for career interceptions with 20. He spent the next 4 seasons with the team, appearing in 2 Superbowls. Bly had his best season arguably in 2001 when he recorded 29 total tackles, 1 forced fumble, 9 pass deflections, and 6 interceptions for 150 yards and 2 TDs (including a 93 yarder).

In 2003, Dré signed with the Detroit Lions, anchoring down their secondary for the next 4 seasons. He immediately paid dividends for the Lions, posting 6 more interceptions for 89 yards and a TD, along with 15 pass deflections, 5 forced fumbles, and 55 total tackles. Later in 2005, Bly again picked off 6 passes, forced 3 fumbles, and recorded 15 pass deflections.

Bly was traded to the Denver Broncos in 2007 for a 5th round pick and two players. True to form, Dré again led his newfound team in interceptions, adding another 5 to his career numbers. He’d be released in early 2009, and join the 49ers a few months later. After a season in SF, when Bly posted 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles, he returned home to the Lions in 2010 where he retired.

Dré apparently had been wanting to go into coaching. He was offered his first professional gig by the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football in 2019, but apparently seeing the tea leaves early on or seizing an opportunity to return home, opted to coach defensive backs at his alma mater North Carolina.

It won’t surprise me if eventually Dré gets his due and is inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his gaudy numbers. While his skills did translate to the pro level, with some impressive numbers for a corner (20 forced fumbles, 149 pass deflections), people still look at the overrated interception number to determine HOF eligibility IMHO- and with a backlog at the position of players who haven’t even been considered that have 50 interceptions, I doubt Bly will truly get his fair due.


Martz, Mike

Card: Topps AAF 2019 Certified
Acquired: EBay, 2020

An offensive mastermind, Mike Martz has had a career in coaching that has lasted nearly 50 years, in stops through college and the pros. He’d make his mark after joining the Los Angeles Rams in 1992 as a quarterbacks coach, and after the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995, he moved to coach the wide receivers. After a brief stay with the Redskins in 97 and 98, Martz returned to the Rams, as the franchise’s offensive coordinator in 1999 as they won Super Bowl XXXIV over the Tennessee Titans- with ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’.

“He was by far the smartest football mind I’ve ever been around. The things he was teaching was so far ahead of what others were teaching.”

– Rams QB Marc Bulger

In 2000, Mike would replace retiring Dick Vermeil as head coach, but the Rams failed to return to the Super Bowl, losing in the wild card to the Saints. Martz’s Rams rebounded in a big way in 2001, posting a 14-2 record and returning to the Super Bowl, but ultimately losing to the New England Patriots on a last second field goal. Mike coached with the Rams through 2005 and finished with a 53-32 record. His teams made the playoffs 4 times and finished in either first or second place every season.

Mike since then has coached with the Lions, 49ers, and Bears, as an offensive coordinator. He semi-retired from the sport in 2012, working as an analyst and occasional NFLPA Collegiate Bowl coach, before deciding to give it another shot in 2018.

Mike joined the Alliance of American Football in 2018, where he was hired to coach his hometown San Diego Fleet.

“It didn’t make any difference whether I was in high school. That’s what you do. You walk onto the practice field, and that’s who you are, that’s what you are. I can’t stop and go. That’s just where it is. To be any different would cheat these players. I love this game. I wouldn’t disrespect it by not being intense.”

-Mike Martz

Mike led the Fleet to a 3-5 record, dogged by quarterback issues. Still there were shades of the mad genius coming through with the Fleet as they finished second in total yards (2,649 yards), passing yards (1,798), and 4th in rushing (851 yards).

As previously discussed, AAF certified autographs from coaches are severely overpriced. Thankfully with all the XFL hoopla this autographed card snuck under the EBay radar set with a low bid. Typically Martz’s certifieds have floated around anywhere between 30-75 dollars. I think I sniped this one out under 10. It was doubly happy to nab this one, as Mike is not a great signer through the mail.

Mike was within two feet in the visitors’ endzone coaching his quarterbacks before the Fleet’s opener, but feeling his intensity, I chickened out on chatting it up with him or asking for his autograph. Charlie Ebersol came up to Mike and chatted with him about the league before they shuffled off to another drill.