Tag Archives: topps 2012

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.

Barwin, Connor (2) ‘Kramer’

dor&s09 cbarwinCards: Donruss Rookies & Stars 2009, Donruss Gridiron 2009, Topps 2012
Acquired: TTM 2015, C/o The Philadelphia Eagles
Sent:  9/22/15     Received: 2/5/16   (136 days)
See Also: Connor Barwin

A lesson in patience, Connor Barwin sports a near perfect response rate through Sportscollectors.net.  To get a better feel for when players respond, I always look at the date that they sign. Do they clump their signings around bye weeks? Do they sign after the season/ before the season? These are things to consider to properly understand your time frame for a response. I know Barwin is a stellar signer, and after a slightly longer than expected wait, the autographs rolled in.

do09 cbarwinWhile Barwin was playing in Houston in 2010, he blew out his ankle during the season opener against Indianapolis. He was in so much pain that it was really sad when they carted him from the field.  Later it was revealed that he was lost for the season. It struck me so deeply that I opened a Twitter account to wish him well and sent my first tweet to him. He recovered from his injury, and was converted to linebacker.

Connor had a banner year in 2011 under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, setting a personal best with 11.5 sacks.  Barwin frequently made a mess of the Jaguars, breaking the team record with 4 sacks in one game against Jacksonville.  2012 was a contract year for Barwin, and largely a down one if you consider only sacks.  The Texans hoped to resign him, but wanted to do so at a hometown discount.

to12 cbarwinUnderstanding his value, Barwin signed with the Eagles as a free agent in 2013. Ever gracious, Connor took out a legendary full page ad in the Houston Chronicle thanking the team, the fans, and even Blaine Gabbert (quarterback for Jacksonville at the time) for his time with the Texans.  Barwin has become a fixture in the Eagles defense.. He’d earn his first AP nomination in 2014 after recording 14.5 sacks, and followed that up in 2015 with another 7.

Considered the MVP of the defense, big things are expected of Barwin under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in 2016.


Reed, Brooks

sco12 reedud12 b reed

Cards: Topps 2010, Donruss Rookies & Stars 2010, Upper Deck Star Rookies 2011, Score 2011
Acquired: IP 4/25/2013, 1300 The Zone Texans Draft Party

So after last year’s event with James Casey and Danieal Manning, I pretty much circled the calendar on draft day to ask off early so that I could get to the Texans Draft Party this year. With the original lineup featuring Brooks Reed and Darryl Sharpton, I was pretty enthusiastic about the event, however a last second change forced JJ Moses in for Sharpton and the event was not held at the LaVaca Street Bar & Grille like last time. Still I managed to sidle up to the corporate cut Buffalo Wild Wings where Rod and the crew from 1300 the Zone were held up in, and made my way in about an hour early. Amazingly again, I met another member of the TAC message board right at the door on the way in, and we hit it off immediately talking about our path to the hobby.

dr&s12 reedInitially the Texans organization informed everybody that the players would only sign one card, and only the corporate provided merchandise that they brought with them. I was not happy with that at all, because I love getting cards signed. Furthermore, it brings up a very tricky slope for the organization to climb: Declining fans from getting licensed merchandise signed that they (the fans) have paid for in the first place. I really don’t like the recent efforts of leagues to squish out adult autograph collectors, in favor of kids, especially when adults are the ones who are spending the money in the first place. Within limits I can understand where players and the organization are coming from in regards to resellers, but to make that blanket jump and deny everybody the opportunity to get what they want signed is just plain wrong.  Again I always preach to the player community that if they don’t want resellers taking advantage of them, personalize items in ball point pen only. In the end however the players were more than happy to sign anything that was provided by fans, and after going through the line the first time, – which moved remarkably quick, I got 3 additional cards signed by Reed on my way back around.

to12 reedBrooks bears a startling resemblance to WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels. When I told him about it, he told me that he had heard that 3 times already that day, but still got a laugh out of it. We discussed briefly the status of the linebacker corps and the fact I had so many cards of him, which he was amazed by. I offered him a few to keep, but he declined and signed them all for me instead. Topps finally hit this one on the head, and their 2012 release, is just flat out amazing. With that precious white edge, great focus on the team logo, and a good framed photo, they finally hit the nail on the head on a base release.  It seemed that every card used this hokey workout shot of him from the combine. I absolutely hate combine photos. I’d rather see the player in their college garb instead. Speaking of which, the Upper Deck Star Rookies release does just that, but showcases a hideous photo of Brooks at just the right moment when he looks exhausted and- well like he’s going to the sideline to pick up a phone.

Overall I was very pleased with the results of the event, however, I just don’t like Buffalo Wild Wings. It was so evenly loud across the reedwhole place that I could not hear the 1300 the Zone crew unless I was right on top of them.

Brooks was a second round choice of the Houston Texans from the 2011 draft. An Arizona native, he went to college at Arizona, where he etched out quite a nice career with them recording 85 tackles and 15 sacks. It was thought that he was an insurance play for the departure of either Mario Williams or Connor Barwin. Reed though in his rookie season was forced into the lineup after a pectoral injury to Mario Williams, but performed admirably notching 6 sacks, 3 pass defensed, 2 FR, and 36 tackles in a largely patchwork middle 4. Reed received a lot of buzz entering the 2012 season, as Peter King from CNN said that Reed would be the season’s defensive MVP. King was close, as another teammate of Reed, JJ Watt, earned the honor. In the meantime, after getting settled down for 2012, Brooks started 12 games for the Texans adding 2.5 sacks, 3 more pass defensed, and 19 tackles to his young totals. As the linebacking corps of the Texans continues to mature under defensive coordinator Wade Philips watch, it is thought that he has big plans for Reed and the Bulls on Parade.