Card: Topps Stadium Club 1991
Acquired: TTM 10/19/13, Gift
I recently went to the GMC NFL Texas Tour event and on a whim since I had a few more free autograph vouchers than cards decided to get a few of my friends some autographed photos. A true gift to me is one that somebody doesn’t expect, so I didn’t bother telling anybody until after I had already done it. On a whim I got on of my friends from Fanmail and Houston Fan Fest a Priest Holmes autograph, so he in return was so touched, he sent me back this sweet looking card.
Latin Berry was a dual threat man who played both football and track for the Oregon Ducks. Following his redshirt year in 1985, Latin began his career at tailback, before shifting fulltime to become the team’s starting fullback, blocking for quarterback Bill Musgrave. He finished fourth on the school’s career rushing list with 1,548 yards and 11 touchdowns. With incredible speed, and prowess at the long and triple jumps, scouts were eager to see the 5’10”, 196 Berry make a shift to a position more suited to his athletic talent and size at the professional level. The Los Angeles Rams drafted Berry with their 3rd round selection 1990, and tabbed him to be a defensive back. He’d make the squad that year and spell time with fellow returners Gaston Green and Robert Delpino on returns. The next season with Darryl Henley ailing from a hamstring injury and rookie Todd Lyght holding out, Berry got his shot to crack the starting lineup. He’d get some valuable preseason time, but as soon as Lyght signed and Henley was back, Berry went to odd man out among the final cuts. He’d quickly find a home in Cleveland in 1991, and remain with the team the next 3 seasons before retiring. In 2013, he was honored with an induction into the Oregon Ducks Hall of Fame for his 4 time All-American Honors in Track & Field. Latin lives in the Sulphur, LA area where my friend found Berry at his son’s high school football game. Latin was quite flattered by the cards and autograph request after all these years.
G/Gs 32/0 Ret 17 Yds 315 Avg 18.5 Lg 29 Td 0
Cards: Action Packed 1992, Upper Deck 1992, Stadium Club 1991
Acquired: 2/16/2013, Longhorn Neighborhood Foundation Bowling Tournament
Stephen Braggs quietly entered the NFL in 1987, as a 6th round pick of the Cleveland Browns from the University of Texas. He played 7 seasons in the NFL, 5 of them for the Browns at FS and CB, (where he split time with another former Longhorn, Raymond Clayborn,) and then later with the Dolphins from 1992 to 1993. Stephen started 18 games in his career, recording 4.5 sacks and 5 picks. Valued for his special teams play, ability to block kicks and his speed, Braggs was a nice find for the Browns, and a pretty fiesty defensive back for a guy who stands at 5-9, 180.
Braggs was the first one I got at the Bowling Tournament. He had a team of coworkers with him who were also getting footballs signed. He gave them a word of advice by saying, “Hit them up as soon as they leave the showroom.” Taking his advice, I promptly walked up to him and asked him to sign 3 cards for me. He smiled and penned them all for me. I then helped his coworkers ask players for autographs when they were too nervous to which they all appreciated. Since football, Braggs has sworn off head coaching stating that he likes to sleep. Currently he’s a defensive coordinator at Harmony, a private school institution for learning.
Braggs had actually quite a few cards over his career, and I’m sure I’ll track him down at another event since he is an active NFL and Longhorn alum. In his spare time Stephen (at least used to) enjoy hunting rattlesnakes- a hobby he picked up while at the University of Texas.
G/Gs 83/18 Tac N/a Sac 4.5 Fum 0 |
Int 5 Yds 28 Avg 5.1 Td 0 Lg 16
Card: Action Packed 1990, Topps Stadium Club 1990
Acquired: 11/23/2012, Fiterman Autograph Event, 2012 Canton Acquisition.
See Also: Ernest Givins, Ernest Givins (2)
Ernest Givins after all these years still remains one of my favorite players not only as an entertaining professional who understands the relationship between player and fan but also as an avid TTM signer. If there was a an award that could be handed out for sincerity and kindness, this guy would be near the top. He was rumored to have stepped out during pregame warmups and go up into the stands to greet fans. That’s the sort of guy he is. It’s a good thing he is because Givins had no shortage of very photogenic cards during his playing days for the Oilers from 1986-1994. EG and his teammate Haywood Jeffires have a lot of love for each other- and almost seem to be the Yin and Yang when paired together especially in public. He’s also an accomplished semi-pro coach where he was with the Jacksonville Sharks for many years. In 2011, he took over the reins of the Sarasota Millionaires. Along with Givins quest to have his jersey retired at Louisville, he recently has expressed an interest in having his jersey retired with the Titans. I personally, would love to see the Texans stick it to the Titans and offer him a Texans Ambassadorship.