Tag Archives: TNT Greats 2013

LeBeau, Dick

Cards: TNT Signature Select, Topps 1971
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o The Tennessee Titans
Sent: 1/19/17  Received: 1/27/17   (8 days)

To say that Dick LeBeau has a decorated football history would be an understatement. After playing both halfback and defensive back in college, LeBeau was moved to cornerback fulltime when he entered the NFL. Selected by the Cleveland Browns in 1959, LeBeau did not make the squad and was quickly snatched up by the Detroit Lions. The rest is history. The Lions already had an outstanding secondary. LeBeau was icing on the cake. He arguably became one of the best players in Detroit history (at least defensively) recording 62 interceptions for 762 yards and 3 TDs.  He earned 3 ProBowl trips from 1964-1966 and AP in 1964, 1965, and 1970.

Retiring from play after the 72 season, LeBeau immediately jumped into coaching, working as a special teams coach for the Eagles from 1973-1975.  From there he honed his skills as a positional coach with the defensive backs for the Packers (1976-1979) and Bengals (1980-1983). Dick was promoted to defensive coordinator for Cincinnati in 1984- a position he held until 1991.  In 1992 he joined the Steelers as a defensive backs coach, and in 1995 was elevated to defensive coordinator.  LeBeau returned to the Bengals in 1997 and was head coach for the franchise from 2000-2002.  After a brief stay on the Bills in 2003 LeBeau returned to the Steelers as their defensive coordinator from 2004-2014, and then off to the Tennessee Titans as their coordinator where he coaches to this day (2017).  LeBeau was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Pride of the Lions in 2010.

Dick LeBeau is one of the most reliable high profile TTM signers in the hobby today. I think I had taken it for granted for a long time, but I finally decided to take a shot at him in 2017. Part of the reason for my delay was the lack of decent cards of him. Frankly most of the cards that were on the market were quite bad looking, or were just plain expensive. LeBeau’s turnaround was quite quick signing this old beat up Topps card and my custom in about a week flat.

G/GS  N/a    Tac N/a         Sac N/a          Fum N/a
Int   62       Yds   762          Avg  12.2      TD  3     Lg   70t

Hart, Jim

tntss hart

Cards: Upper Deck Legends 1997, Topps 1971, Top Notch Trading Cards Signature Select
Acquired: TTM 2014, C/o Home
Sent:  9/2    Received: 9/11  (9 days)

One of my earliest memories of even seeing football was in the 1970s when as a kid I would go across the street and play with my friend Cody. His parents were big football fans and they’d have the Cardinals on whenever they could. I just remember those white on red uniforms. His dad would be sitting in the living room watching the Cardinals, and I remember watching Terry Metcalf do his thing.

to71 hartJim Hart’s career spans a rare 3 decades of football. 1966 to 1983 seems like a long time and it is, especially when you go undrafted. Hart ended up impressing the Cardinals brass who signed him after a tryout.  He’d take over the starter duties soon thereafter, and while Jim’s teams struggled early on, he’d flourish under Don Coryell and the team became known as the Cardiac Cards for their comeback wins and exciting contests.  His best season came in ’74 when Jim was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Year. He also earned Second Team All-Pro.  A 4 time Pro Bowler, Hart earned the honor from 1974-1977, and was given the Whizzer White Player of the Year for his charitable contributions in 1975.

udldg97 hartIn 1981 the Cardinals drafted their second franchise quarterback- the also vastly underrated Neil Lomax. The writing was on the wall, and Hart was slowly being phased out.  Jim played for the Cards through 1983. He’d spend one largely forgettable season with the Washington Redskins in ’84 before retiring. While Kurt Warner is now considered the Arizona Cardinals best QB, I’d argue that Hart was the best St. Louis quarterback that the franchise has seen- but those heroics are largely diminished or forgotten by a fanbase that didn’t care or know who he was during Hart’s heydays. Jim is considered an excellent TTM signer.

G/GS  201/180    ATT 5076    COMP 2593    YDS  34655
PCT  51.1       TD 209     INT 247       RAT 66.6
RUSH  159     YDS 207     AVG 1.3     TD 16      LG  23

Berry, Raymond

tnt14ss berryCards: TNT Signature Select 2013, Upper Deck Legends 1997, ProSet 1989, Photo Memorabilia, Testimonial Card.
Acquired: TTM 2014, C/o home
Sent: 1/2/2014   Received: 2/3/2015  (390 days)

Raymond Berry was the first person I sent out for in 2014. I had hoped he would be the first success, because of his impecable return rate. Well, 390 days and 67 returns later, I finally got the Hall of Famer on these cards- and I must say it was completely worth the wait. I’m sure that I was on the bottom of the mail bag that he was going through, as others were cashing in those successes earlier than I was. It was extremely touching because not only did he throw in a testimonial card and a signed photo, he also wrote me an incredibly kind one page letter, thanking me for the additional custom card I gave him, and telling me how much he appreciates fans like myself. His response is probably one of my favorite ever from an NFLer, little less a Hall of Famer!

hof berryRaymond Berry was a long shot to make the Colts.  Back in 1954 when Ray was drafted, the NFL draft itself went 30 rounds deep. When he was taken in the 20th round out of SMU, teams probably recognized his heart for the game more than his uncanny route running skills and soft hands.  His rookie season was typical of many of that era with 13 receptions for 205 yards in 1955, as he began to build a rapport with future HoF Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas.  Berry quickly established himself as a starter that next year, and in 1957 led the league with 800 yards receiving.  He’d lead the NFL the next 3 seasons in catches with 56, 66, and 74 receptions- respectively.  In 1959, Berry had a career high 14 TD receptions, and followed that up with career marks in receiving yards 1,298  in 1960, averaging an astounding 108.2 yards per game.  In 1961, Ray had a career high 75 receptions en route to his 4th of 6th career Pro Bowl honors.

udldg97 berryAlthough Ray never quite saw the same titanic numbers that he enjoyed the remainder of his career,  he continued to post healthy numbers up through his final year in 1967. Over a span of 13 years in the league, Berry averaged below 50 yards a game in only 3 seasons.  Whether it was the skill of the quarterback or a combination of Ray’s precise route running and soft hands- Berry only dropped 2 passes, and fumbled once, in 631 targets over his career.  At the time of Ray’s retirement, he was the NFL’s greatest receiver as his receptions and yardage ranked first in NFL history. He also holds the record for the most receptions in an NFL championship game with 12 in 1958.

pset89 berryRay stayed in football and went into coaching, eventually joining the New England Patriots staff as a positional coach during the late ’70s.  He’d leave after the firing of then head coach Chuck Fairbanks, but return in 1984 replacing Ron Meyer as head coach, immediately reversing the fortunes of the team. It was said that just Berry’s presence changed the attitude of the team, and they responded with an improbable Super Bowl run in 1985, marking only the second team to make it to the Super Bowl from a Wild Card slot.  The only problem was that the Patriots ran into the historic Chicago Bears defense. The Patriots got buzzsawed 46-10.  They’d get to the playoffs again in 1986, but not return to the post season after that. An in-house squabble over personnel matters resulted in Berry resigning after the 1989 season.

Berry didn’t return to coaching after that. He retired to Tennesee where he still lives today and for a while was a spokesman for a national insurance corporation.  What Berry is not known for is being a visionary. Berry recognized a need to teach a generation about how to play wide receiver. He was able to get the archives of many of his game films at the time when he retired, and cobbled them together into an instructional video -An incredible rarity from that era.  A few lucky fans over the years have been able to get a copy of it that has now gone as far as DVD from what I’ve been told.

Raymond earned many accolades post retirement. He is the 40th Greatest Player in NFL history and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1973.  A member of both the 50th and 75th Anniversiary NFL teams, Berry had his number retired at the time, by the then Baltimore Colts.

G  154       Rec 631    Yds  9,275      Avg  14.7    Td  68        Lg  70
W  48    L  39     Pct  .552

mem berry