Aaron Schobel had a productive career with the Horned Frogs of TCU. He earned WAC Defensive Player of the Year Honors in 2000, and finished his career at the school with 31 sacks, 264 tackles, and 7 forced fumbles. (His 31 sacks would be a school record.)
After being selected out of TCU in 2001 with the Bills 2nd round pick, Aaron played 9 years for the team where he was a rock at defensive end in their 4-3 alignment. He was a two time Pro Bowl selection in 2006 and 2007. In 6 of those 9 seasons Aaron posted 8.5 sacks or more, including a career high 14 in 2006. Over that era, he posted 78 career sacks- a number that was only second to HOF DE Jason Taylor.
As the Bills planned to transition to a 3-4 defense in 2011, Schobel decided to retire at the age of 32. Afterwards many rumors swirled about him returning to play for a team on the message boards, most notably the Houston Texans (who are about 70 miles from his hometown), but Aaron felt the fire was gone and injuries had taken their toll, so he decided to stay retired. I sometimes think about what a devastating line that would’ve been in 2011 if the Texans had lined up budding rookie JJ Watt alongside grizzled veteran Aaron Schobel.
On my occasional drives back from Houston, I’d see a billboard for his family’s restaurant and it’d remind me of him, so I decided to take a shot and mail these cards out to him, that he graciously signed for me.
Nick Novak is just one of those kicking mercenaries- and he’s been all over now FIVE different leagues. It started at the University of Maryland in 2001. As a four year starter for the Terps, Novak was 153/159 on extra points, and 80/107 on field goals. He finished overall with 393 total points (5th all-time in college history), and lurked near the top of the college leaderboards for both total points and field goals made in 2002 and 2003.
Going unselected in the 2004 NFL Draft, Nick tried out with both the Bears and Cowboys, before ultimately landing on the Redskins in 2005 as an injury sub for John Hall appearing in 5 games. Nick was then snapped up by the Cardinals- who also had an injured kicker. After failing to unseat incumbent Neil Rackers in camp the following year (2006), Nick found himself in a familiar place again- back with the Redskins as an injury replacement for John Hall. After losing out to Shaun Suisham, Nick was signed by the Bears and allocated to NFL Europe.
Novak had a solid campaign with the Cologne Centurions. He’d finish 25/25 on extra points, and 10/17 on field goals (including a game winner) with a long of 49. Although Nick had a solid preseason with the Bears, he lost out in camp to All Pro kicker Robbie Gould.
After trying out for the Jaguars and Chargers, Nick made the roster of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 but after an inconsistent start to his season, he’d be cut in mid-October. Not one to give up, Nick then joined the Chargers in 2010 but he’d again lose out, this time to incumbent Nate Kaeding.
Nick then took the path less traveled. He joined the upstart United Football League. While playing for the Florida Tuskers, Nick was 24/24 on extra points and 15/18 on field goals (69 points). He’d also hit a league record 54 yard field goal. He’d earn Special Teams Player of the Week Honors twice, and then later be named the UFL Special Teams MVP at the conclusion of the season.
Again after signing with the Jets this time, Nick lost out to Nick Folk. He’d be welcomed back to the Chargers, where he spent the next five seasons. Over those meritorious seasons Nick set field goal percentile records and consecutive field goal records for San Diego and ended up 6th all-time in scoring for the franchise with 503 points.
Nick signed with the Houston Texans in 2015, where he again set franchise records hitting 35/41 field goals in 2016. The Texans in 2017 decided to get younger at the position, and went with Ka’imi Fairbairn.
Novak proved you could indeed return home- well sort of- as he was signed by the nomadic Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 replacing the current kicker Younghoo Koo, but Novak himself was injured just two short months later.
Nick joined his 4th league in 2018, playing for the Birmingham Iron of the AAF. He finished 13/16 on field goals, including a 47 yard long, and earned AAF Special Teams Player of the Week Honors for his Week 1 effort. – The league would be shuddered after the 8th game.
For some reason his certified autograph has hovered pretty solidly at about $10.00 on Ebay. – Most expensive kicker ever! Anyway I got lucky and got a great deal on his certified for not even half that price.
In 2019, Nick’s journey continued as he was drafted by the LA Wildcats of the XFL 2020 initiative. He was 2-5 with a long of 47 yards before he aggravated an injury after 4 games.
Jeff Brohm played quarterback for his hometown Louisville Cardinals from 1989-1993. Early on he honed his game behind future NFL quarterback Browning Nagle. Brohm took over the starting gig in 1991. After an injury ended his season early on, Jeff returned with a vengeance in 1992 throwing for 2008 yards on 297 attempts (9 TD). He’d eclipse virtually all his personal season best passing statistics in his senior campaign, going 184/304 (60.9), for 2626 yards, and 20 TDs to just 9 picks and lead the Cardinals to a victory in the Liberty Bowl over Michigan State.
He’d not be selected in the 1994 NFL Draft, but signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers, winning the 3rd string job. Jeff then saw free agent stops with the Washington Redskins (1995), and 49ers (1996-1997). With the ‘9ers, Jeff saw his only significant playing time in the NFL throwing for 353 yards and a TD over his stop with SF. Jeff then was on the rosters of the Bucs (1998), Broncos (1999) and Browns (2000).
Jeff’s football career took an unexpected turn in 2001, when he was selected to play in the upstart XFL by the Orlando Rage with the 4th overall pick. Although Jeff had a particularly successful season, going on to be the XFL’s best rated quarterback, and being named to the league’s first team squad, the offensive lines in the XFL were particularly bad, and Jeff like many other quarterbacks suffered from unnecessary sacks and quarterback hits.
During one of those games against the Maniax, he was brutally taken down, and knocked out. The hit was so brutal, his helmet was turned and he had to be taken to the hospital. Amazingly though he returned near the end of the game with a neck brace on and watched from the sidelines. He amazingly started 6 days later and was asked by a sideline reporter his reaction to playing that day. Brohm had an epic and fiery response.
Let me answer that question by asking you two questions – One, is this or is this not the XFL? Yes, it is. Two, do I or do I not currently have a pulse? Yes, I do. Let’s play football.
A shoulder injury however near the end of the season, ended his career and potentially a return to the NFL. After that lone season in the XFL concluded, Jeff moved into the coaching ranks, starting with his hometown Louisville Fire of the Arena Football League. He then quickly joined his Alma Mater the following season, staying with them through 2008 as a quarterbacks coach, and then later as a passing game coordinator, offensive coordinator, and assistant head coach. Jeff then honed his skills at various stops at Florida Atlantic (2009), Illinois (2010-2011), UAB (2012), and Western Kentucky (2013) – where he earned his first head coaching job from 2014 to 2016.
With his bang up job with the Hilltoppers in the books, Jeff left for greener pastures, and was hired as head coach of the Purdue Boilermakers in 2017. Jeff has been linked many times since then to more prestigious jobs with Tennessee and Nebraska, but going into 2021 remains the head coach at Purdue.
I had sorta given up on these cards after seeing some quick and recent returns, but in reality I was just probably at the bottom of Jeff’s mailbag.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.