Tag Archives: tecmo bowl

Mack, Kevin (2) ‘Attack’

Cards: ProSet 1989, Score 1989, Score 1991 MVP
Acquired: 2016, Future Considerations
See Also: Kevin Mack

Deadhorse comes through again for me. My Cleveland connection who gets a rare bone thrown to him from time to time set me up with a signing that included 3 great Browns backs: Earnest Byner, Mike Pruitt, and Kevin Mack.

Kevin has a lot of great nicknames because of his indelible last name. My friends and I used to call him ‘Mack Attack’ in Tecmo Bowl (circa 1987/8), but I’ve heard ‘Mack Truck’ and a few others because well, not only did he hit like a truck in Tecmo, he attacked the line in real life.

Former revered head coach Marty Schottenheimer has been quoted as saying about Mack:
“K Mack was a between the tackles runner who had power as well as good speed. He had that tremendous step of acceleration you have to have when he saw that little spot he had to run to or through.”

As of 2016, Kevin is the head of Cleveland Browns Alumni relations. He kicked the can for many years on returning to the sport in a coaching or front office capacity- inquiring with the Texans in 2000 about becoming a scout once the franchise took a foothold. Eventually he ended up returning to the Browns. Among the things that Mack laments is the glory days of the AFC South and the rivalries between the Steelers, Oilers, Browns, and Bengals. (I for one second that.)

Some really nice cards of Kevin here that I got signed the second time around.  Each of them showcase Mack’s power and ability to lead with his massive shoulders. The ProSet 1989 is a marvelous action shot with just perfect framing, while his Score 91 is a solidly designed illustration. The Score 1989 is why Topps was caught so flat footed by both ProSet and Score’s entry into the card market. Not only did they use dynamic photography and action shots, the colors on the higher grade card just illuminated the canvas.

Dixon, Hanford “Top Dawg”

pset89 hdixonCard: ProSet 1989
Acquired: 2014, Trade

Hanford Dixon was a dominating defensive back who played his entire 9 season career with the Cleveland Browns from 1981-1989.  A 3 time Pro Bowl pick, Hanford slid in at right cornerback and was later paired with Frank Minnefield after the USFL folded. One of the greatest physical man to man players of his generation, Dixon and Minnefield gave the Oilers wide receivers fits -barking all the way. Hanford was the originator of the ‘Dawg Pound’ name given to the Browns rowdy end zone fans. He thought that the Browns defenders were like dogs and the opposing offenses were cats they were chasing all day.

Teams were aware of the ballhawking Dixon and threw the other direction. He intercepted 26 passes over his career with the Browns. In 1990, the Browns left Dixon unprotected via Plan B and signed respectable Patriot Raymond Clayborn to replace him. With the writing on the wall Hanford signed with the San Fransisco 49ers in 1990, but tore a quadriceps muscle during the preseason. He opted to retire.

Dixon is immortalized as a member of the Browns in Nintendo’s Tecmo Bowl, where they shoved the star corner in at safety.  They did get Hanford right however and made him one of the most dominant players in the game. Hanford continues to live in the Cleveland area where he’s a fan favorite.  He did some coaching for the LFL Cleveland Crush,  and also color and analyst work for gridiron and Arena football games in Ohio.

Last year I took a few extra autographs I had sitting around and sent them out as gifts to friends who had helped me along the way TTM. Among them was Deadhorse, who located a few players I had been looking for. He quit sportscollectors.net cold and from what I could tell was out of the business. He went to an IP signing earlier this year in Ohio and got this extra card signed for me, sending it out of the blue.

G/Gs 131/128         Tac   n/a       Sac  2.0      Fum 2
Int 26       Yds  225         Avg 8.6         Td  0         Lg  37

Renfro, Mike

to81 renfroCards: Topps 1980, Topps 1981
Acquired: TTM 2013, C/o Home
Sent: 12/10    Received: 12/19  (9 days)
Failure: TTM 2010, C/o Home

Upon his graduation from Texas Christian University, Mike Renfro held virtually all of the schools’ receiving records, and was the Southwestern Conference’s all-time leading receiver for receptions (162) and yards (2,739) . The Houston Oilers drafted Mike in the 4th round of their blockbuster 1978 draft. To say that head coach Bum Phillips was not enamored with kids from the SWC that year was an understatement as Renfro joined fellow SWC rushing leader Earl Campbell as rookies on the team. Mike was fortunate. With Billy White Shoes nursing a knee injury, Renfro was able to begin building a rapport with quarterback Dan Pastorini, while honing his blocking skills. Later in the year Mike scored his first professional touchdown against the Oakland Raiders.

It’d be in the 1979 playoffs the next season, that the team met with that heartbreaking bad luck they always seemed to find in the oddest ways. The Oilers’ battles with the Steelers were titanic by this point and Houston was one of the few teams that was formidible in combat with Pittsburgh. The Oilers rode into 3 Rivers Stadium for the AFC Championship Game that year. Trailing 17-10, the Oilers drove down the frigid field, after starting from their own 14 yard line. Pastorini was hot on Renfro that drive, already striking to him for 21 yards to put the ball on the Steeler 6. It’d be on the next play that Renfro is perhaps remembered most for. Under a nasty rush, Pastorini lobbed the ball up in the air to Mike over the helpless defensive back Ron Johnson (who held Renfro). Despite the no call hold, Renfro pulled the ball in and cradled it before stepping out of the endzone. The side judge, made an initial no call, then made a weak incomplete pass signal. While the replays showed otherwise and the commentators agreed as such, there was nothing that could be done. The Oilers settled for a field goal, and this was the closest the franchise ever made it to the Super Bowl. The Steelers scored a final touchdown with 53 seconds remaining to inflate the score to 27-13. The play caused a national firestorm and debate over the sport. The call today is still regarded as one of the worst made in sports history- ever. While video replay had been in use going back some 20+ years prior, the major sports had been reticent to adopt it as a way to better assist officials in making  better calls in games. The USFL became the first major football league to open the can of worms and adopt instant replay formally in 1985. The fans universally appreciated the program, seeing it as a sign of fairness and transparency. The NFL finally followed suit in 1986. After a lot of trial and error, the program was modified, abolished, and reinvented by 1998 and has been in use with minor tweaks every season since by the league.

to80 renfroMike played with the Oilers for the next 4 seasons. As a run first team, Mike got the knack of being a fearless, possession receiver who had great hands and ran fine routes. Renfro’s stats, especially compared to other receivers (of this current time) hearkens to a bygone era of aggressive defenses and the Dead Ball years of the sport. He finished his tenure in Houston with 160 catches in 51 games for 2183 yards and 11 TDs. Mike was also witness to the dawn and sunset of the Earl Campbell era as well as being one of the last remnants of the old guard to move on before the beginning of the Moon era in 1984. That year, Mike found himself traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for WR Butch Johnson, and a swap of 2nd round picks between the Cowboys and Oilers. Oh the Oilers also threw in a 5th round pick as well, which the Cowboys used to draft some guy named Herschel Walker. In essence, the Cowboys can thank the Houston Oilers for the catalyst that propelled them into the dynasty they became in the 1990s. Renfro stepped into the Cowboys organization at a critical juncture as well. He became the go to man for young quarterback Danny White as the team transitioned between eras at wide receiver from Pearson to Irvin. Mike was there to pick up the slack when Tony Hill began to decline and Mike Sherrard broke his leg. Mike posted a career highs in receptions (60), yards (955), and TDs (8) in 1985. Mike is also remembered fondly for having one of the greatest Thanksgiving performances in memory in 1987 when he caught 7 passes for 100 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings. Sadly though, Mike was at the end of the line after finding a new role in Dallas. In 1988, Michael Irvin joined the squad, and with a host of new talent at receiver, and Renfro banged up from the wear and tear over the years, knew it was time to go. No hard feelings for Mike though.  Retiring to the Dallas area, Renfro was a sucessful investor and horse breeder for a while.

I had written Renfro back in 2010, but did not receive a response because I had gotten the address partially incorrect. I did not realize that the error was on my end until I had recently seen some responses from him. I was happy to finally get him on these two Oilers cards. Mike also makes an appearance on the original Tecmo Bowl on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

G/Gs  123/95       Rec  323     Yds  4708       Avg  14.6      Td 28   Lg  60