Tag Archives: Tennessee Titans

Johnson, Steven (LB)

Card: Topps AAF 2019
Acquired: 2019, EBay

Looks like Steven was getting a bit tired of signing cards at this point. The autograph looks a bit shortened- but I’ll take it!

Steven Johnson is a great football story- as he’s managed to succeed against all odds. He didn’t receive any college opportunities out of high school, and after playing both ways at Wyoming Seminary, he suffered a devastating knee injury that tore it essentially from the socket. After rehabbing, he walked-on at Kansas and fought his way up the depth chart. By his Junior year he was an entrenched starter at linebacker. He finished his college career with 225 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 3 pass deflections and an interception in 35 games.

Undrafted, Steven signed with the Denver Broncos in 2012 and managed to make the 52 man roster playing primarily on special teams. He started 7 games in 2014 at middle linebacker, posting 39 total tackles, .5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. He’d then embark on a series on stops with the Titans (2015), Steelers (2016), Steelers and Ravens (2017).

He’d join the Alliance of American Football for the 2019 season and be assigned to the Arizona Hotshots. Steven had a banner season for the Hotshots. He’d lead the team in interceptions with 3, and finish 3rd on the team in combined tackles with 48.

After the AAF folded suddenly, Johnson was selected by the Seattle Dragons of the XFL 2020. Over the course of the 5 game season, Steven posted 48 tackles to lead all players in the league. Unfortunately due to the Coronavirus outbreak- the XFL cancelled the remainder of the season

White, LenDale (2)

Cards: Donruss Rookies & Stars Longevity 2009, Score 2009
Acquired: In Person 2018, Heisman House Tour
See Also: LenDale White

Rumor swirled that maybe some former USC alumni would be in attendance for ‘Part III’ of the USC v Texas matchup and I figured the Heisman House would probably be the best place to catch some of them. This added up with the fact that Vince Young was already hosting a get together of sorts between the 2005 National Championship teams (USC v Texas) in Austin during this period. I pulled some cards from the 2005 USC team. I speculated Reggie Bush was too controversial to be there- since he had to forfeit the trophy he lost that VY later rejected. I thought well maybe Matt Leinart, or another USC Heisman winner. My friend Deadhorse suggested Charles White or Marcus Allen. I then thought, maybe LenDale White since he and Bo Scaife are good friend and have their own show called “The Players’ Lounge”- and packed them all in the infamous long box.

See the rule is- always plan as though anybody can be there. That’s how I got Harvey Martin and Roger Staubach. That’s also how I missed on Babe Laufenberg at the Spring League game in 2018. It’s also how I got a hit on Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward.

It was a terribly humid day with thunderstorms forecast for the entire day. I met up with a fellow collector- Jeff. He and I have many parallels in our life. We both had our first kid recently, and we both used to be denizens of autograph alley back when the Cowboys practiced at St. Edwards. I am always eager to network with other like-minded collectors and we make a pretty good fit. His wife and son also came and somehow managed to bare the humidity. (Not only does my wife deserve credit for allowing me to go to such things, Jeff’s wife should get a trooper badge for showing up to them with him.) We waited in line and got Ricky Williams– twice. In the meantime his wife got back in line for VY, so we joined her in that line after we got done with Ricky. Behind us a commotion occurred and I noticed that some USC players were taking photos with somebody with dreads. Before I could ask, he was already leaving to go inside. I found out then it was LenDale White. I pulled the extra cards that I brought of LenDale- numbering some 6, took two for myself and gave the other two to Jeff and then I vigilantly waited for him to appear. 

It turns out that LenDale and Vince Young are really good friends. They got to know each other better when they played on the Titans together, and apparently talk on the phone almost every day. During Vince’s interview about the 2005 National Championship Game, LenDale came out from the trailer connected to the tent and onto the stage and was hanging out in between sets.  It was then I was able to approach him and get him to sign two cards for me. 

LenDale was looking quite svelte. When I asked him what he had been doing with himself to look so cut- he laughed and said, he stopped working out. I always felt like he got a bad wrap coming out of college, and that he was a better back than he was given credit for.  He thanked me for the compliment, and we wished each other good luck for that evening.  A few minutes later Jeff came back with his signed in hand as well. It was a great experience, and we were able to make the weekend signing worthwhile. The initial goal was the clear the table with Ricky and a VY or two. Anything else was just gravy- and nabbing LenDale White was quite the treat.

Orapko, Brian (2)

Cards: Panini UT 2015 Patch, Pacific 2009. Score 2009, Upper Deck 2009, Press Pass 2009, Topps 2012, Score 2015*, Panini UT 2015, Donruss 2015, Panini Threads 2011.
Acquired: IP 2018, GiGi’s Cupcakes Soft Grand Opening.
IP 2018, T-Mobile Player Event, IP 2018, Back to Camp GiGi’s event
* Future considerations Lance
See Also: Brian Orapko

Brian Orapko and Michael Griffin had been hitting the social media circuit for a bit talking up their new joint venture- GiGi’s Cupcakes. Apparently when they both played for the Titans in Nashville they got hooked on the confectionary treat and decided that they wanted to be franchisees. Brian and Michael had posted some great photos of them cutting their teeth and learning the ropes behind the construction of their store in Bee Cave. Both of the alluded to a grand opening ‘in a few weeks’, so I kept my eyes peeled for any updates along the way. I just so happened to check their feed after I got back from the Bastrop Boot Event, and found out that Griff and Rak had done a soft opening that very same day. I was a bit miffed. The next morning I called them up, and was told that they were open today and come on down.

I battled my way about 30 miles through the sometimes frozen rain to get there, but once I arrived I was greeted by a beaming Orapko and Griffin. (I was really shocked as the last time I saw Rak, he was a bit disgruntled, and begrudgingly gave me his autograph.) I decided to get a 4-pack (only reserving the Red Velvet for myself) and asking him to choose the remainder for me. He filled out the box nicely over small talk and rang me out. (Admittedly, it was a weird experience to have an NFL player working a register for me.)  We even got in a good laugh over their instagram, as I wholly expected somebody to be tossing dough in the back like they were making a pizza. Brian had no problem signing these 2 cards for me. Heck, I probably could’ve gotten him to sign a few more- he was in such a good mood.

Talking about going from worst to first. It was a great experience meeting him again. I even told him how I was hurt he signed with the Titans and not the Texans, and we had a good laugh at my expense over it. – And the best part: THE CUPCAKES WERE AMAZING.

Later in the year I caught up with Spoodog and his wife. I hadn’t seen them in quite sometime- either a Priest Holmes signing or a Cedric Griffin signing well over a year ago. A lot had changed for me with a baby taking need over anything else and his job just sort of precluded everything else. It was great catching up with them. In fact a whole host of people showed up I hadn’t seen in a while. This made the wait for Orakpo even easier. It wasn’t much of a line at the T-Mobile location, but it was frustrating because we were told the wrong location and shuttled back and forth until we got to the right place.

Rak was uneven at this event for me. I tried joking with him, and I let him know that I enjoyed the cupcakes, and heck that they may have been the first sugar my baby ever tasted, but I must have rubbed him the wrong way either through my joking manner or the fact that I asked him to sign 6 cards. I did give him a hard time about the Titans new uniforms. They look exactly like the CFL Toronto Argonauts. I took to calling them the Tennessee Argonauts. The pen also was giving up or he was signing lighter with each card. By the time he got to the Topps at the end, it was barely taking. He also was signing and just sort of tossing the cards at me. I felt pretty badly. Oh well… A few friends of mine asked for future considerations to get Orakpo.  Essentially what it means is that I’ll get the autograph free of charge, and they will look out for anybody me. I’m not picky as long as it is not in my collection already. (Lance and I have done these exchanges with regularity.) I went ahead and gave up the Score 2015- which I think looks terrible, and the Upper Deck 2009 Draft Edition, which I sorta wanted to keep- but this is how it goes. I hope these cards new homes appreciate them as much as I do.

Later I went to the Back to Camp event that Brian was holding at GiGi’s before he headed off to Tennessee for the year. Many Longhorns were invited, but since I got there early, and had little time I only managed to get Brian and Michael Huff. I felt badly about how I had treated Brian at the T-Mobile event. He either took it in good stride or had already forgotten about me ribbing him about the Texans. He signed 3 cards for me. Well really 2. He re-inked the Topps 2014 that came out really badly, looked over the Panini Triple Threads card, and then tossed in his Donruss 2015 Sample card. He was really informative about the process of the league. New coaches get a little bit more time and Coach Vrabel wanted them in Tennessee to get ready for the season as soon as possible. Brian and I also talked about the sample card. Apparently many companies offer the cards to the players when they come out. The Donruss card in particular was stamped/ imprinted on the back with the word ‘sample’ on it. Brian said that when he found out he had his first card, he was super excited because it was like a coming of age.

Brian signed with the Titans in 2015. By October of that season, he was already established as a team captain. He finished his first campaign in Nashville with 7 sacks, 38 tackles (13 ast), 5 passes defended, and a forced fumble.  2016, saw Rak establish near career highs with 10.5 sacks, 38 tackles (8 ast), 4 passes defended, and a forced fumble. While his numbers were slightly down in 2017, Brian finished with 30 tackles (10 ast), 7 sacks, 2 passes defended, and 3 forced fumbles. With new coach and former LB Mike Vrabel in town, it should be interesting to see how Brian’s numbers stack up in 2018.