Tag Archives: topps aaf 2019

Johnston, Daryl ‘Moose’ (3)

Card: Topps AAF 2019
Acquired: IP 2019, San Antonio Commanders vs The Salt Lake Stallions
See Also: Daryl Johnston, Daryl Johnston (2)

I had gone to the San Antonio Commanders Season Ticket Holders unveiling announcement. Knowing that Daryl Johnston was the GM of the team, I packed a bunch of cards with the help of my old pal Spoodog, with the hope that I’d get them all signed. Daryl gave a fiery speech about football, and how it had provided for him and his family and his life and how it was under attack from all sides. It really made me excited for AAF football. After the speeches concluded, it became a bit of a madhouse, with Daryl and Troy Polamalu making the rounds. Daryl was taking photos with fans. When I came up to him, I jokingly said, “The denizens of autograph alley at St Edwards say hello!”, And then asked for his autograph. He rebuffed and told me that this was not a signing- rather it was a photo op. He then asked me if I wanted a photo, and I told him…
“No thanks.” , Much to his quizzical look as I walked away. I know a lot of the current generation is into selfies as a way of getting autographs, but to me nothing beats the ink- especially on cards.

I’m pretty sure the day before the Salt Lake Stallions game, I was able to get a hobby box of the Alliance football cards. Inside I was able to break most of the Commanders, to carry with me to the game. It was a date night for my wife and me, since I had the extra seat. The bonus was the league had shifted my seat around so many times that they gave me hats and field passes for one of the games- so I elected for the Stallions game hoping to rake in the autographs.

It really didn’t go as planned as my wife found the whole experience sort of boring and to top it off she was hangry, so we had to leave the field a little bit earlier than normal. I did however stop and talk to Daryl. This card captures Daryl’s demeanor perfectly: Quiet. Alert. Calculating. Intense. -He pretty much had this expression on the entire season.

I asked him if he had seen his card yet- and he was generally shocked. “Well look at that…” He said. This time there was only a brief pause when I asked him to sign the card, to which he responded, “Sure. No problem.” I then told him how impressed I was with the job he was doing with the Commanders in assembling the team. As I looked at him, he appeared genuinely touched and thanked me for the compliment, took the pen and started signing. I then told him about my father, the Riders, and how I had wanted him to come to the games with me, but he had passed at the beginning of the year. He stopped, and said, “Oh my god. I am so sorry for your loss. Are you okay?” A part of me is still processing things 3 months later. It’s been a while since anybody has said anything to me about it. I fumbled the ball, shrugged, and said, “It is what it is.”

Daryl worked mightily for the Commanders the entire season getting up to speed as a GM. Hungry and determined, he put together a competitive team right out of the gate. He also helped advise the league through negotiations with the NFLPA, all the while spending time apart from his family.

It was a shame the way it ended. Even in the mess that it has descended into, Daryl has exuded class, loyalty, and honor. I listened to him on San Antonio radio discuss how the AAF fell apart, how he was just as blindsided as the rest of us, and how he felt badly for the city of San Antonio and the players, coaching staff, and fans of the team.

He’s now looking into opportunities with the Cowboys. I hope he gets that shot because I think he’d be an amazing GM at some point wherever he ends up.

Ebersol, Charlie

Card: Topps AAF 2019
Acquired: IP 2019, San Antonio Commanders vs Arizona Hotshots

So I said, “Hey Charile! I got your trading card over here!”, And he was genuinely shocked. “Get out! I have a trading card!”, He said as he briskly strolled over to me in the visitors end zone. Charlie smiled and looked at it, and gleefully showed it to his wife. He was so excited he and I took a picture together (- that in retrospect will possibly never see the light of day). “Don’t worry, my wife posts everything to Twitter,” Ebersol said as he penned the card. He thanked me, but before turning around, reached into his pocket and gave me a league lapel pin. For a brief moment, I felt special. When asked about the league, Charlie smiled, and said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but based on how great San Antonio has been, you guys should be able to keep the rights to it forever!” Ebersol then handed out every single one of those lapel pins to the fans sitting around me.

It reminded me of when I was 25, and I worked for a brokerage company in 2002. There were rumors of downsizing, and the CEO came in and talked to us about what was going on. His response and body language was about the same as Charlie’s, and I picked up on it, but didn’t want to believe it. Two months later I was laid off as the company closed the location I worked at.

The San Antonio Commanders versus the Arizona Hotshots was the last game played by the AAF. Two days after the game concluded, the league was shuttered. Fans, players, executives, coaches- it all ended. Tom Dundon, (the Chairman and the guy controlling the league’s purse strings), abruptly decided to stop funding the league. Charlie and the other founding members of the league were dumbfounded. They had a 3 year plan, but Dundon had plans- otherwise, and decided to cut loose after only a few weeks.

Things have a way of coming full circle. My dad used to take me to WLAF games back in the early 90s. This was the first time I had a team since then that I could relate to in SA like that, and I wanted to share that with my father- but he passed away before the first game at the beginning of the year.

I hoped that living vicariously through the guests that I had take his seat, that I could keep the memory and dream alive of spending time with my dad, and to not have to confront the fact that he died, but that too has come to pass.

And just like the AAF, I just wished I had more time.