Tag Archives: tragic NFL stories

Manley, Dexter “Secretary of Defense”

pset89 manley pset90 manleyCards: ProSet 1989, ProSet 1990, Score 1991
Acquired: 2014, Paid Signing
Failure: 2012, C/o Home

Dexter Manley has proven himself to be a very popular and colorful figure during and after his time in the NFL. A dominant pass rusher during his time with the Washington Redskins, Manley spent as much time in his career injured as he was suspended for drug abuse. Dexter Manley was a fast lane living defensive lineman at Oklahoma State University. He was selected by the Washington Redskins in the 5th round of the 1981 NFL draft. During his rookie season, he posted 6 sacks (before the NFL recognized them officially as a statistic). In 1983, Dexter began to establish himself as a top flight defensive terror, with his first of 4 consecutive 10+ sack seasons with 11.  Over the next 3 seasons, Manley’s sack numbers continued to climb, from 13.5 in 1984, to a league leading 18.5 in 1986. It’d all culminate in a Super Bowl victory in 1987 and an appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He’d post 8.5 sacks in 87, and back to back 9 sack seasons in 1988 and 1989. By this time though the nasty spectre of cocaine began to assert itself in Dexter’s life- and by the 10th game of the 1989 season, Manley had received his 3rd strike and was suspended by the league for 1 year. Later Manley was cut by the Redskins, unceremoniously ending his tenure in Washington.

sco91 manleyA year after the suspension, Manley signed with the Phoenix Cardinals and played 4 games for the team in 1990. In 1991 he’d sign with the Buccaneers and experience a return to form, drawing in another 6.5 sacks. Unfortunately Manley relapsed and received a lifetime ban from the NFL, forcing his tearful retirement. Still desiring to play football, Dexter played for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the CFL from 1992 to 1993.

After officially retiring, Dexter has continued to make waves, testifying before a league senate committee that he was a functioning illiterate even after college.  He’s also had to battle multiple relapses, was briefly incarcerated, and at one point facing homelessness, even pawned one of his Super Bowl rings. Still Manley has his friends and family to thank who strongly stuck by him through thick and thin, – and he did get that Super Bowl ring back. In 2002, he was named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins of all time, and in 2005 underwent surgery to treat a life threatening brain cyst. Still a popular figure in Redskins lore, he’s done talk radio and is a motivational speaker.

Dexter used to be a decent signer through the mail, and I attempted to get him a few years ago, but it was RTS. After seeing multiple failures on him, I went ahead and just did a paid signing for him through Sportscollectors.net. I always liked Dexter as a kid, unaware of drugs or what it was doing to him. I even had Manley’s Starting Lineup figure and had always hoped that he would return to the defensive dominance that he exuded during the mid-80s.

G/Gs 143/120    Tac  N/a    Sac 103.5      Fum  6      Int 2     Yds -1   Avg -.5     Td 0    Lg -.-

 

Smith, Sammie

Cards: ProSet 1989, Score 1990
Acquired: TTM 2011, C/o Home
Sent:  5/27   Received: 11/2   (159 days*)
* Slight delay.  Forwarded from old address

Sammie Smith is a cautionary tale. After breaking rushing records for the Florida State Seminoles during the late 1980s, Sammie declared for the 1989 NFL draft. His stock would shoot up in the final weeks leading up to it, buoyed by a reputed 4.35 40.  A stacked draft, Smith was the third runningback taken off the board in the first round, (after Barry Sanders and Tim Worley) with the 9th pick. A tremendous talent, Smith would set a Dolphins rookie rushing record with his 659 yard season in 1989, including a 3 touchdown performance against the New England Patriots. He’d follow this up in 1990 with another solid season with 839 yards and his two year career totals set new Sophomore marks for the 20+ year old franchise at the time, but that would all come crashing down in 1991.

You see, Sammie had a habit of putting the rock on the ground. My friends and I knew that he was so notorious for it, that when a player fumbled twice in a game or on a regular basis, we called it, “A case of Sammie Smith-itis”. Sammie’s 1991 would be incredibly rough and after 2 games, Smith didn’t even have positive yardage.  At Kansas City in week 3 Smith fumbled on the goal line against the Chiefs, who recovered it and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown as the Dolphins got crushed 42-7, but the worst was yet to come. In a home game the following week Sammie and the Dolphins would play the Houston Oilers. Clutching to a 14-10 lead late in the game, the ‘Fins would have a chance to seal the victory as they knocked on the Oilers doorstep for a touchdown. The announcers casually mention Sammie Smith in the backfield and how he fumbled the previous week. As the ball was handed off to him, Lamar Lathon came through the line with Cris Dishman and punched the ball loose- again. Lathon recovered the ball and the Oilers marched down the field for the winning touchdown. Sammie sobbed on the sideline as fans chanted “Sammie Sucks!” Smith would be pulled aside after the game, where coach Don Shula tried to tell Sammie that he had made big plays in the past for the Dolphins and he’d make big plays in the future. He just needed to shake off today.

It never happened. Sammie’s 1991 would come to a thudding end, and during the season’s epilogue the Dolphins would trade Sammie Smith straight up with the Broncos for Bobby Humphrey. The hope was that a change of scenery would help both players, but a groin injury would derail most of Smith’s 1992, and end his career.  Sammie despite only playing roughly 4 seasons still finished financially well off.

He’d return home, but be caught in a drug sting as a ‘major player’ in a cocaine operation in 1996. Sammie would plead guilty and be sent to jail. Convicted of 2 counts to distribute he faced 20 to life in prison at the age of 29. Sammie would take his time in prison to refocus his life and try to turn it around, helping those who are potentially at risk in life and with drugs. After 7 years he was placed on parole, and in 2010, at the age of 43, with the help of his former coach Bobby Bowden, friends and family, he won the restoration of his civil rights. Smith remains active locally conducting football camps, connecting with former friends and teammates, and trying to help at risk children.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Sammie despite my genial poking at his career and while I would’ve decried what happened to him as ‘stupid’, the reality of it is, that it was tragic and saddening. I would have sent to Sammie sooner, had I known he was out of prison earlier and I was happy to receive these two autographs in roughly 6 months time. It’s been a long and winding difficult road for Sammie- but he is proof positive that you can find redemption after your darkest hour.

G/Gs 44/35  Rush   532    Yds 1881   Avg  3.5     Td  15    Lg  33  |
Rec   32   Yds  310    Avg  9.7     Td   1     Lg  53