Tag Archives: topps 1978

Pruitt, Greg

Card: Topps 1978
Acquired: 2016, Future Considerations

An elusive and explosive back out of the backfield at the University of Oklahoma, Greg Pruitt finished 3rd in Heisman voting in 1971 and 2nd in 1972. The All-American rushed for 3,122 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Sooners over his time there.  Measuring up at 5’10”, 190 Pruitt was lucky not to take a pounding, because defenders rarely got squared up on him.

The Cleveland Browns were intrigued by the diminutive back,  and selected Greg with their second round pick of the 1973 draft slotting him behind their future HOF runningback Leroy Kelly. Pruitt was as advertised and immediately added an extra charge to the Browns offense primarily as a kick returner and punt returner. In 4 of his first 5 seasons, Greg earned Pro Bowl honors. It’d be in 1975 that he’d really hit his stride as a runningback, cranking out 3 straight 1,000+ yard seasons in a row as well as demonstrating a knack as a reliable receiving option out of the backfield.  In 1974 and 1975, Pruitt had nearly 1,800 all purpose yards, and achieved at least 1,100 all purpose yards 6 times over 12 seasons.  He’d enjoy career highs at receptions in 1980 (50) and then 1981 (65), before taking his show to Oakland to join the Raiders as their return man. In 1983 he’d lead the NFL in punt returns, putting together a whopping 58 returns for 666 yards and a 97 yard TD, earning his final pro bowl berth. The 58 returns and 97 yard TD were second in NFL history, while the 666 yards was an NFL record (all since surpassed).  He’d win a Superbowl XVIII ring and retire after the 1984 season.

Greg Pruitt had some amazing highlight film of him running through defenders hands as they literally tore his jerseys off his pads. The problem was he intentionally wore those tear away jerseys so he could shake off those pesky tacklers.  In response the NFL enacted the ‘Greg Pruitt Rule’ preventing any player from wearing tear away jerseys in 1979.

Greg was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Cleveland Browns Legends Class of 2001.  Many of his records still stand tall on the Browns records lists, both single season and career. He currently lives in the Cleveland area where he owns a construction company.

DeadHorse went to a nearby signing to him in Ohio and came up with a few signatures for me from old Browns runningback greats Earnest Byner, Kevin Mack, and Greg Pruitt.  Thankfully DeadHorse was paying attention as I got Greg and Mike Pruitt confused. He switched out my Mike Pruitt card and came through with a nice autograph for the collection.

G/GS  158/82     RUSH   1196    YDS  5672    AVG 4.7    TD 27   LG 78t
REC 328     YDS 3069    AVG 9.4    TD 18    LG 60t
KR  106    YDS 2514   AVG 23.7    TD 1    LG 88t
PR  194    YDS 2007  AVG 10.3    TD 1   LG 97t

Bingham, Gregg ‘Devil’

to83 gbinghamto79 gbingham
Cards:  Topps 1983, Topps, 1978, Topps 1979
Acquired: 2016, C/o Home
Failure: TTM 2012, C/o Home

Little known fact about Gregg Bingham is that he is the Houston Oilers career leading tackler with nearly 2,000 tackles. Surrounded by talent like Elvin Bethea, Robert Brazile and Curley Culp, during the Luv Ya’ Blue era of the 70s- it was easy for Bingham to be overlooked in the star studded defensive lineup, even if he led the league 11 straight seasons. Also tackles were an unofficial statistic for the league until the late 80s/ early 90s.

After toiling away his rookie season in a 4-3 at MLB in 1973, and earning all-rookie honors, Gregg slid over to LILB, as the Oilers converted to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Bum Phillips. Bingham had earned the nickname ‘Devil’ for his strong motor and style of play, and he punished ball carriers on every tackle.  Bum Phillips was once quoted as saying that, “You’d have to cut off his head and hide it, in order to keep Bingham off the field.” He’d start the next 5 seasons for the team, recording 10 interceptions and 5 fumble recoveries, returning one 34 yards for a TD.  Gregg was also counted on by the team for special teams as well.  The following season he switched to RILB, playing the position for the majority of the rest of his career. Considerably durable, Bingham would have challenged Bethea’s consecutive games started record if not for a hip injury suffered in 1982 at 135. He topped the 200 tackle mark 4 times and led the league in tackles consistently over his career.

to78 gbinghamAn interesting character, Gregg made every penny count, investing into a series of coin operated car washes and oil changes around the Houston area. He even had the business foresight to have an assistant sort the change that came out of the machines for valuable coins.

Years later in 2008, Bingham’s heir at linebacker, John Grimsely committed suicide. It was later linked to CTE- caused by concussions. Gregg became a concussion flashpoint himself in 2009 when he was working in one of his car washes, and blacked out. When he next woke up, Bingham was in the hospital and learned he had been in a coma for the past 3 weeks, due to a swollen brain. It took him well over a year to rehab, but Gregg connected the dots to his time in the NFL and concussions, -something that at the time was to be ‘shaken off’.  He later rejected an NFL concussion settlement, because it would have not covered his expenses.

He continues to live in the Houston area, and after failing on a request back in… 2012- he kindly signed two cards for me and tossed in a third.

G/Gs   173/173       TAC   1,985         SAC    n/a        FUM   14
INT  21     YDS   279     AVG 13.3       TD   0         LG  54

LeClair, Jim

Cards: Topps 1980, Topps 1978
Acquired: Canton Acquisition 2012

After a short stint at Minnesota-Crookston, Jim Transferred to North Dakota.  Still not gaining the eyes of professional scouts, it took an incredible banner year for the linebacker to finally get the attention he deserved. He was credited with 187 tackles, three interceptions, four fumble recoveries, 11 forced fumbles, and 20 tackles for loss in 1971, and captured Little All-American Honors for his titanic performance. – Just incredible numbers. LeClair was selected by Paul Brown’s Bengals in the 3rd round of the 1972 draft, where he’d spell equally impressive Bill Bergey and primarily play special teams. While Bergey moved on to the Eagles in ’73, it was obvious that the mantle at middle linebacker soon would rest on Jim’s shoulders. By 1975 LeClair had really taken off at the position, making a career high 3 picks in 14 games that year. In 1976, Jim received his first Pro Bowl nomination. In 1980, the Bengals switched to a 3-4 defense, and Jim moved to LILB, playing for the team through 1983.  Bill by this point had been playing for 12 seasons, but still had the sport in his veins, and signed with the USFL’s New Jersey Generals. He’d finish his career there in 1984, but still manages to make it down to a game or two to cheer on the Bengals each season.

He’s currently retired and lives in North Dakota, spending time as an insurance agent. Jim has done some wild stuff over his days, as an Army reservist, including  wrestling a bear to a draw. Not a Chicago bear, – a real bear. He’s been a mayor and was head coach of the Mayville State University football team from 1986 – 1988. He has been inducted into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame and also is a 1999 member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

G 158    Tac  N/a     Sac N/a     Fum 10
Int 10    Yds  64    Avg   6.4     Td  0   Lg 21