Cards: Topps XFL 2001, Score 2010 Acquired: TTM 2019, C/o The Chicago Bears Sent: 2/4/19 Received: 4/2/19 (59 days)
Mike Furrey has made a very interesting professional football journey. After not being drafted out of Northern Iowa in 2000, he’d sign with the Colts but not make the squad.
Undeterred, he’d join the renegade XFL in 2001, where he’d play wide receiver for the Las Vegas Outlaws. He’d snag 18 catches for 242 yards and a 41 yard TD. As the team’s primary punt returner Mike also returned 11 punts for 94 yards.
After the XFL folded, he’d play for the New York Dragons of the Arena football league, spending two years with them in 2002 and 2003. During both seasons he posted 1000+ yard seasons and display a knack for playing defensive back, intercepting 6 passes. He’d also play for the St. Louis Rams in both of those years as well and oddly enough play both wide receiver and defensive back for the team, posting 21 receptions for 197 yards, and then intercept 4 passes for 143 yards, deflect 8 passes, and return one 67 yards for a TD from free safety.
Obviously Mike’s curious stat lines drew him attention in the open market as he signed with the Detrot Lions in 2006. He’d have his finest season as a WR, with 98 receptions for 1086 yards and 6 TDs in 14 starts, and follow that up in 2007 with 61 receptions for 664 yards and a TD. After a subpar 2008, Mike made a stop with the Cleveland Browns in 2009- where he saw significant time again starting 4 games at WR while moonlighting at safety as well. After the season concluded he joined the Washington Redskins but did not make the squad.
Very soon thereafter, Mike went into college coaching and as of this post in 2019, is the wide receivers coach for the Chicago Bears.
Some very interesting design between these two cards. I love the Score 2010, almost as much as Score 2009. It’s got great color, and the slightly off white helps the image stand off the canvas just a little more. I especially like the use of the designs in the top corners of the card to give it that painted effect. This set felt like a direct heir to the 2009 set that I adore.
The Topps XFL card represented everything gaudy about the Attitude Era that bled from WWE into the XFL. It’s an underused design to have both the player’s face and an action image on the front of the card, but this one pulls it off- albeit just a bit over designed.
During the Jurassic Period of football, there were some absolute beasts of defenders that took the league by storm in the 70s. One of them was Carl Hairston, a little known defensive lineman prospect out of UMES or (University of Maryland Eastern Shore). He played on some terrible teams during college, which allowed him to really hone his game. Hairston was named to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team 3 times. In his final year with the team, he posted 147 tackles and 15 sacks, good enough to get noticed by the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected Carl in the 7th round of the 1976 draft.
He’d make the squad and in fact lead the NFL in sacks in 1979 (unofficially) with 15. Then in 1980, he’d help champion the defense that got the Eagles to Super Bowl XV. Injuries began to slow Hairston down in 1983, and soon thereafter he’d be traded to the Cleveland Browns, where he’d be a mainstay on the line until 1989. He’d finish his career in Phoenix the following season.
Carl has an extensive coaching resume at the Pro level, and has seen stops in the NFL (Phoenix, KC, St Louis, and Green Bay), UFL (Florida, Omaha), and CFL (British Columbia). He earned a Super Bowl ring as the defensive line coach for the St. Louis Rams (Super Bowl XXXIV).
Carl is another one of these players who should probably be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A dominant lineman during his time, unofficially he has 1,141 tackles and 94 sacks to his name in 184 starts.
Both of these are really nice cards of Carl. I almost feel like they are nods to him out of respect- like these card companies knew he was long in the tooth but they still wanted to pay him respects with their brand of card. The ProSet Legends 1991 card is an absolute gem. Merv Corning can make a player standing on the sideline look exciting, and this highly detailed image is no different with its nicks and bumps. It’s a fine card with excellent minimal design- which screams classy. The Score Supplemental 1989 had always been floating around my doubles box, so I had been kicking around the idea of getting it autographed for sometime. It’s unique because it’s obviously a special teams shot, but he’s just sort of popping up in a sea of helmets.
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.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.