Tag Archives: ttm football autograph

Smith, Al

Cards: Proset 1991, Fleer 1995, Score 1991, Score 1992, Action Packed 1992
Acquired: In Person, Highland Mall 1992. Oilers Training Camp 1995. TTM, 2010 C/o home.
Sent:  6/24        Received: 7/10   (16 days)

In 1992 the Oilers were doing a media and fan blitz outside of their normal home territory and were appearing at a local mall sending in coach Jim Eddy, Jeff Alm and Al Smith. It was one of my first memorable face to face interactions with players and Al and Jeff cracked jokes with me while they set up the tables in front of the food court. Al signed my Pro Set 1991 and then jokingly told me I could have probably carried in the table for them. It was a kind and cherished moment at an emotional time of my life. I would later get his autograph at my last time at Houston Oiler training camp in 1995 on the Fleer 95 card. In 2010, when I was tracking down former Oilers I found Al’s address and sent out for his autograph.

Al Smith was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the 6th round of the 1986 draft from Utah. Smith would go on to lead the team in tackles his rookie season, as an inside linebacker for the 3-4 defense.  In 1990 he officially became the team’s starting middle linebacker and held down the starting job through 1994, garnering Pro Bowl honors twice and All-Pro once finally retiring in 1997.  Probably the Oiler’s best kept secret, Al Smith came up with big plays for the Oilers, including 2 goal line stops in a row to seal victory against the Jets in the playoffs. Smith after football would serve as a scout for the  Tennessee Titans and currently lives in Franklin, TN.

G  125      Tac  833        Sac  5.5         FF   8
Int  2        Yds 42      Avg 21.0      TD 0

Dunbar, Karl

Cards: Ultimate WLAF 1991, Wild Card WLAF 1992.
Acquired: TTM 2010, C/o  The Minnesota Vikings
Sent: 6/11  Received: 6/18   (7 days)

After playing at LSU (Karmichael) ‘Karl’ was drafted by the Steelers in 1990 and then played for the Orlando Thunder of the WLAF in 1992 finishing tied for first on the team with 5.5 sacks. (He appeared in World Bowl II.) After the league reorganized, Karl became a journeyman, playing for the Saints for one year then jumping to the Cardinals for the next two retiring at the end of 1995 after playing for the Rhein Fire of the NFLE. With an insatiable love for the game, coaching had gotten in Karl’s blood, and he began to start working his way up the ranks starting from the high school level soon after. In 1998 he started coaching in college and in 2004 he was back in the pros working for the Bears. As of 2010 he’s in his 5th season as defensive line coach of the Minnesota Vikings.  He is attributed with the success and emergence of the ‘Williams Wall’ and is considered to be a master technician. His name has been thrown around recently for head coaching jobs in college as well.

Karl is an interesting and engaging alumni. (Karl has vitiligo, a skin pigmentation discoloration that affects about 1 percent of the population and is decorated with fraternity tattoos on his arms and elbows.) In between his time as a player in 1991, he put his degree to work as an undercover police officer helping make drug stings and was nicknamed ‘the battering ram’. At the World Bowl II media event day, Karl actually sought out media to answer questions for, even stating to one intrepid reporter, “Why haven’t you asked me a question yet?”

Another former WLAFer, I was witness to the Thunder’s victory over the San Antonio Riders that season in 1992. The Riders kept it close till the 3rd quarter but then got blown out late. (Because there was only 3 divisions in the WLAF, the Riders who were really the 3rd best team in the league, didn’t make the playoffs that year, despite being 7-3.) I never got the cards for Karl until recently and sent them out with the photo memorabilia of the game for him. He responded in about a week, I’m sure feeling quite good about himself because his defensive linemen probably get all the autograph requests.

(Thunder)  Games 10      Tac   N/a          Sac 5.5       FF  N/a    Int 0    Yds 0     Avg -.-       TD 0

Morris, Mercury

Cards: Topps 1977, SP Signature Edition 2005
Acquired: TTM 2010, c/o Home.
Sent:  4/28     Received:  7/9   (72 days)

Before I begin, I’d like to express my outrage towards the NFL and solidarity with former players in their attempts at trying to get medical assistance and their ‘fair share’ of the retirement pie. Case in point:

Mercury Morris was another AFLer that I sent away for after watching “Full Color Football” on the NFL Network.  Morris was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 3rd round of the 1969 draft, playing in the final year of the AFL before the merger.   Initially Morris found himself playing as a backup running back and special teams returner to Jim Kiick with gradually increasing playing time. (He started 39 games over his career.) In 1973, Mercury combined with Larry Csonka to form the first 1,000 yard duo, playing with two broken vertebra for a good portion of the season. (Mercury was not informed of the break when it happened, rather he was told that the injury was a ‘sprain’ after the game by team doctors.) Morris would play through 1976, where he was traded to the Chargers and then retired shortly thereafter due to the lingering neck injury from 1973. Eugene “Mercury” Morris was aptly named, based on his mercurial quickness, and later proven by the fact that he stands 1st amongst halfbacks on average yards per carry at 5.1 (with at least 750 attempts) and his kick return average of 26.5 stands in the NFL top ten.  He is also a member of the NFL’s only completely perfect team, (the 17-0 1972 Dolphins) and was a 3 time ProBowl selection from 1971-1973.

Since retirement Morris has been involved in television, public speaking, commercials, and wrote a book about his life entitled “Against the Grain” (1988). An outspoken advocate for improving player benefits, Mercury has continued to battle with the NFL to acknowledge and compensate him and his former gladiator brethren for their increasing medical expenses caused by their playing days.  (Mercury has suffered from lingering and debilitating headaches from his fused spine and deadened nerves.) Morris has pressed on with multiple legal actions against the league (for the money he is entitled to) and the Groom Law Group, which supervises the NFL pension plan. He has chronicled his latest attempts at getting answers through former defensive lineman Dave Pear’s blog at: www.davepear.com/blog .

G  99       Att  804           Yds   4133           Avg  5.1           TD 31          LG 70
KR  111          Yds  2947          Avg  26.5             TD  3            LG 105