Cards: Topps 1993, Fleer 1995, Topps Finest 1995
Acquired: In Person 1993, Houston Oilers Training Camp, TTM 2010, C/o The Tennesee Titans
Sent: 3/26 Received: 4/6 (11 days)
Another one of these players from Pasadena, Ca, Marcus Robertson played collegiately for Iowa State and was drafted in 1991 by the Houston Oilers in the 4th round. After a quiet rookie season, Robertson would step into the starting role for the Oilers in 1992, playing solidly in the secondary.
On my birthday in 1993 my brother invited me down to Houston where he lived, gave me a Houston Oiler flag, and took me to the Astrodome to watch the Oilers play the Browns. The Oilers that year were having the best season of the team’s history and much of it was due to their ball hawking secondary and Marcus Robertson’s play. After 13 games he lead the NFL with 7 interceptions, but a knee injury would end his season prematurely- ironically during the game I was at. He’d also garner All-Pro honors that season. The Oilers would continue to play well into the playoffs, where they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Kansas City Chiefs. It would be the last time the team would make the playoffs. I bought the Topps Finest card but was not able to get Marcus’ autograph before the team moved to Tennessee. After another injury plagued 1995, Marcus would again return to form and play for the Oilers and Titans through 2000. He’d play an additional 2 seasons for the Seattle Seahawks and then retire after the 2002 season. Since then Marcus has worked as a coach and in 2010 is with the Titans organization as a defensive backs coach.
These sets of cards really reflect the evolution of quality and style in the 1990s of football cards. The 1993 Topps card is honestly like any other regular Topps branded football card up to this point during the football card war- boring. Realizing that Topps was probably getting killed in the market by other companies the brand by 1995 made a move to foil stamping, high quality photos, the removal of that gum that you could kill a man with, and a variety of other upgrades. The Topps Finest card here is truly among my favorites. Another one of my other pet favorites, after I had left the market completely was the Fleer 1995 cards. Fearlessly branding type across the card and around players that you normally didn’t see, you really got a feel for these cards on an epic scale complimented and framed by excellent photography. I was extremely happy to add these signatures to my collection.
G/Gs 162/144 Tac 638 Sac 1.5 Fum 9 Int 24 Yds 458 Avg 19.1 Td 0 Lg 69
Cards: Topps Traded 1989, Upper Deck 1992
Acquired: In Person, Houston Oilers Training Camp 1992, CGA Youth Golf Tournament 1993.
The Oilers were searching for the replacement to Tony Zendejas whom they lost in Plan B to the Los Angeles Rams. Passing by established names such as Mike Lansford and Raul Allegre, the Oilers brought Teddy Garcia into camp. Unimpressed, the Oilers sent out an APB for a replacement, and found the feel good story of the year in Ian Howfield who won the job with an impressive preseason, but after 9 games it was obvious that he was not the answer, missing 4 extra points and quite a few field goals. The Oilers called up Al Del Greco, who had lost the kicking job in Phoenix earlier that year. He had a decent enough resume and was the starting kicker for Green Bay (after Jan Stenerud) from 1984-1987 and Phoenix from 1987-1990. (He was also ironically replaced by another Zendejas in Green Bay.)
Del Greco would win the job outright in Houston, (and at that time I wasn’t really impressed,) providing the Oilers with the consistency and clutch kicking that the team direly needed. He played for the Oilers the next 6 seasons, two for the Tennessee Oilers and then his final two seasons with the Titans- retiring after 2000 and 17 seasons. Del Greco currently stands at number 14 on the all time scoring list with 1592 points (as of 2010).
Al has since been inducted into the Alabama sports Hall of Fame. He briefly got into coaching and was a kicking coach in the AFL for the Birmingham Steeldogs as well, and does some radio and motivational speaking on the side. Del Greco is quite the golfer I hear, and was the winner of the CGA tournament that I went to way back in 1993.
G 248 XPA 543 XPM 551 FGA 449 FGM 347 PCT 77.3%
Card: Classic 1993
Acquired: In Person, Houston Oilers training camp 1993
A nice little piece of trivia about the Herschel Walker trade was that it was so far reaching and the picks were traded around from team to team that Brad Hopkins who’s career lasted until 2006 was considered a by product of it. The Oilers offensive line was beginning to show signs of age, and with Dean Steinkuhler‘s retirement at RT in 1991, the team had a dire need to shore up the offensive line. Brad Hopkins was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the first round of the 1993 draft. The choice was panned because of its relative lack of glamour and because Brad was the 3rd offensive tackle taken in the top 15. Hopkins went on to start 11 games that season and gain all rookie honors in 1993- the final year of Houston’s dominance in the AFC Central and the beginning of the fall of the Oiler franchise. After an all too familiar collapse in the playoffs against the Chiefs in the post-season, owner Bud Adams began to disassemble the Oilers by trading Warren Moon to Minnesota. The team would slide to an embarrassing 2-14 record in 1994. Hopkins witnessed the fall of the franchise even further as Adams was rebuffed by the city of Houston for a new stadium called the ‘Bud Dome’. He then quickly announced plans to move the team to the city of Nashville. In the midst of all this Hopkins started all 16 games for the first time in 1995. He continued this streak through 1998 while the team moved from the cavernous Astrodome to Memphis, Tennessee, and the Oilers drafted both Steve McNair and Eddie George. In 1999 he’d start all 16 games again, while the Oilers completed their move to Nashville and the team changed its name to Tennessee Titans. The team went to the Superbowl that season, in the battle of traitorous owners as Tennessee lost to St. Louis. Hopkins went to the ProBowl in 2000, and also be named All Pro, blocking up front for George.
He retired in 2006 as the ‘final’ Houston Oiler still on the team roster (as McNair signed with the Baltimore Ravens). Hopkins was once memorably quoted when a correlative statistic came out that showed that NFL players were more prone to domestic violence than other sports as saying, “I’m not going to go home and trap block my wife.”
I got Brad’s autograph in 1993 while he was still a rookie at Houston Oilers training camp. Looking back I probably would have treasured his autograph more knowing he’d be the last HOUSTON Oiler.