Cards: ProSet 1990, UD UT 2011 Icons, UD UT 2011, SkyBox 1992, GameDay 1992, ProSet 1991,Fleer 1990, Stadium Club 1993, Score 1990, Score 1991 90+ Club
Acquired: In Person 1/30/2012, 1300 The Zone 3rd Base Appearance
Failure: TTM 1992, C/o The Cleveland Browns, TTM 2010 C/o Home
Third time is a charm right? Well Eric Metcalf has been an idol of mine since I was a kid, and I had tried twice before -and failed to acquire the elusive runningback/return man/wide receiver out of the University of Texas. Meeting Metcalf in person was a treat for me as he had been on my list obviously for a long time.
I believe that the first college football game that I attended at Darrell K. Memorial Stadium, was a game with the Longhorns against the Arkansas Razorbacks. While the Longhorns lost, amidst their late 1980’s slump, Metcalf dominated doing everything for the Longhorns and by the time he graduated, Eric was the school’s all time leading receiver. Metcalf finished his career as a local Longhorn athletic legend playing even baseball and running track.
The Cleveland Browns became enamored with his athleticism, and Eric was drafted in the first round, during one of the greatest modern era drafts of all time -1989. Metcalf provided a speedy spark for the Browns on offense. The do it all back lined up at runningback or receiver and provided incredible mismatches for linebackers in the flat. He also returned kicks too, and then after the departure of Gerald McNeil to Houston, as a punt returner as well. Spending his first 6 seasons in Cleveland, there were some spectacular highlight reels of Metcalf in action during a Monday Night Game against the Bengals where he made 3 players miss before galloping into the endzone untouched, or his famous one man army against the Raiders in 1992 when he scored all 4 of the Browns touchdowns to beat LA. Eric finished his career in Cleveland with 9108 combined yards, 5 punt returns and 2 kick returns for touchdowns, 11 tds rushing and 15 receiving.
In 1995, Eric played for the Atlanta Falcons, under the Red Gun of head coach June Jones and gunslinger Jeff George. He’d fit right in under the Run ‘N Shoot variant, recording 104 receptions for 1189 yards and 8 touchdowns. After a down year in 1996, Eric would be traded to the San Diego Chargers where he spent one year with Kevin Gilbride. He’d lead the NFL with 3 punt returns for touchdowns that season and earn his second All Pro honor. He’d go one and done with the Chargers and head out to Arizona after San Diego traded him and 2 first round choices in 1998 to grab Ryan Leaf during the draft. Eric finished the season with 1837 yards from scrimmage. 1999, Eric spent with the Carolina Panthers, recording 456 YFS, and 2001 with the Washington Redskins setting the NFL record after returning his 10th career punt for a touchdown. After a short stint with the Packers in 2002, Eric decided to hang up the cleats. At the time of his retirement Eric Metcalf, the do-it-all back from the University of Texas had 17230 all purpose yards in his NFL career which was good for 5th all time.
I had recently been complaining to Josh about there not being enough player appearances for autographs around town. The newspapers used to run aggressive advertising about player appearances but I was fretting that times had changed and this was no longer the case. While reading the sports page that day I had seen that Eric was making an appearance at a local bar with 1300 -The Zone ( AKA The Longhorn Station). I went out of my way to get out to the event so that I could meet Eric. I walked in at 5 where the radio team and Rod Babers were set up, only to find Eric Metcalf and Charlie Ward sitting off by themselves away from the hooplah. After confirming that- those were indeed both of those players and that they were not being mobbed for autographs, I proceeded to meet Eric, and acquire his autograph on as many of his cards that I could. Disappointingly, I didn’t have another ProSet 1989 card of him, and even stopped on the way into town to cull one from the local card dealer. When I spoke to Eric, I told him that I had tried multiple times in the past to write him but had not had any success. He shrugged his shoulders and said that he was normally pretty good about that, and he offered to sign as many cards as I’d like. (- I had 11.) I sat there for a while and shot the breeze with Metcalf. When I told him that I felt that the 1989 draft was probably one of the best modern day drafts of all time- his eyes lighted up in agreement. We talked about the numerous HoFers from that draft, and I told him that his numbers were deserving to be among the hall. I told him how I remembered his shellacking of the Bengals on Monday Night Football, and we talked about his career in glorious retrospective. Among the laughs he got out of it was how he returned a kickoff for a TD against the Oilers, even though I had told him that I had hoped they would kick it nowhere near him. He chewed the Oilers up for some 200 yards returning that day, but the Browns lost 41-17 or something horrendous like that.
Eric was the honorary captain of the USA v. The World Football game held annually in Austin. As the girls who were trying to inform fans of the event approached the table to talk to us, I acted as though I had no clue what was going on and that Eric was not the ‘MC of the event’. I let her do her spiel and then asked her if she knew who I was. I then told her that, “I, was Eric Metcalf.” I then told her all about Eric’s illustrious career, and even got up to try to imitate one of his moves. All the time Eric was laughing at me, and told the poor girl not to listen to me. She still had no clue who Eric was, but said that we didn’t look old at all. Eric and I sat there for a few minutes more and talked until more fans started arriving. He quipped to me that he didn’t need to say anything and that I should just be his publicist, since I knew everything about him already. I even recounted the teams he had been on in his career. (We both casually forgot his Green Bay and Carolina stints.) After about 20 minutes of bantering around and then meeting the subdued Charlie Ward, I got a photo with Eric and hit the road, a very happy camper. It was indeed a very successful experience.
Eric enjoys coaching track now in the Seattle area. I asked him if he ever thought about coaching football, and he told me that, “Coaching track is much easier than football ever was,” And then laughed. Frequently Metcalf comes to the area, 3-4 times a year for alumni and other events around town. He is extremely approachable and very kind to fans.
In entertainment and media, Eric was a dominating running back in Tecmo Super Bowl for the Browns. I enjoyed playing as the Browns because I built the offense to work around him. I’d start him at both return man jobs, and at runningback. If I was unable to rush for very many yards, I’d stick him out at receiver. Among the plethora of players that they got wrong on that game, Metcalf sticks out as one they completely nailed.
Here is Eric’s exhaustive statistical line:
G/Gs 179/77 Pr 351 Yds 3453 Avg 9.8 Td 10 Lg 92t
Kr 280 Yds 5813 Avg 20.8 Td 2 Lg 101t
Rush 630 Yds 2392 Avg 3.8 Td 12 Lg 55
Rec 541 Yds 5572 Avg 10.3 Td 31 Lg 69
Part 1 of 4 from Eric Metcalf’s highlight reel: