Tag Archives: upper deck 2009

Polamalu, Troy

Cards: Upper Deck 2009, Score 2010
Acquired: In Person 2018, AAF San Antonio Commanders Season Ticket Holders Party

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to even come close to picking up one of the greatest modern day NFL safeties and Pittsburgh Steeler legends Troy Polamalu- but here we are. I mean again, like in the past, one of the greatest pieces of advice that I can give a fellow collector, is: When you go to in person events, plan ahead by bringing cards of who you know will be there- and who you think might be there.

The second piece of advice I can give you is do your research and participate in the discourse of knowledge about the subject you are interested in. In this case, I participated heavily on the AAF boards and was made aware of the fact that a bold tapestry of many former players line the league’s offices with experience and knowledge. I thought maybe, just maybe since this was a big event, that the league would send down one of the player personnel to the celebration.  I packed a box of cards for the players, and the executives and made my way to the event.

When the event began, Troy was seated on stage with the players and executives. I immediately recognized him based on his flowing mane. – Sure who wouldn’t right? I slipped out some cards and calmly bode my time. After the event concluded I waited in the picture line and kindly asked him for an autograph or two.  I think Troy was both surprised and impressed that somebody had some cards of him at the event. His eyes lit up briefly and he smiled as he signed. I exchanged pleasantries with him about the new league and how excited I was, and then wished him luck.  I’m not much for photos or selfies. The autograph was enough for me to regale in memory about.

Over a 12 year career, Troy Polamalu established himself as one of the greatest strong safeties to ever play the game. Drafted in the first round of 2003 by the Pittsburgh Steelers out of USC, Troy was a headhunter in the secondary, who had a nose for the ball with 46 career takeaways (32 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles), and 770 combined tackles.  Polamalu was named to the Pro Bowl 8 times, All-Pro in 4 seasons, NFL Defensive Player of the year (2010), and won two Super Bowl Championships. He’d also earn honors as a member of the Steelers All-Time Team, and the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. 

Troy retired after the 2014 season and decided to focus on his family. In 2018, he was named the head of player relations for the fledgling Alliance of American Football, however that folded during 2019.

Late in the AAF season, the league brought out Topps cards of Troy, but with these two signed, I’m happy to close the books right where they are without the executive card signed.


Ward, Hines

Card: Upper Deck 2009, Score 2009
Acquired: In Person 2019, San Antonio Commanders v San Diego Fleet
Failure: TTM 2016, C/o Home

Hines Ward played 14 seasons in the NFL from 1998-2011. After posting decent numbers for the Georgia Bulldogs (144 receptions for 1965 yards and 11 TDs) over his college career, Ward was selected in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although he didn’t find immediate success, by 2001 Hines was really starting to round out as a marquee receiver, posting his first (of 4) 1,000 yard campaigns, and first (of 4) Pro Bowl appearances. In 2002, he’d have a career high 112 receptions for 1329 yards and 12 TDs. Hines won Super Bowl XL MVP honors after catching 5 passes for 123 yards and a TD. Despite legendary names in the Steelers wide receiver corps, Hines finished at the top of most of the team’s charts before retiring.

He’s dabbled here and there in sports commentary and as a celebrity judge, but it was when he was given the opportunity to be involved with the AAF that he has really seemed to jump out there.

After getting lucky with Troy Polamalu at the San Antonio Commanders team reveal, I stocked up on other executives for the inaugural game. The ticketing office hit a snafu with me on my tickets and offered me a floor pregame pass during the season. I asked to get on the field for the opening game- but I was told that the league was expecting a lot of executives for the event. I took this as a good omen. Sure I could’ve kicked myself for not packing a card of Kurt Warner who was broadcasting the game, but I was happy as it was just to get Hines.

Standing in the front row of the endzone, nobody noticed Hines. I waited until he got a good, close distance to me and called him over. He hesitated for a moment and then told his guest he was going to sign some autographs. I think he signed for two reasons. One, he had made it so long without somebody recognizing him wandering around the stadium, so I had to be a fan. Two, Hines is all on board with the league and its mantra. He is genuinely excited to share the vision of the league with fans.

Later when I posted the autograph to one of the message boards on Facebook, I found out that I was lucky to not only get two autographs out of him- but that I also got his full signature.

If I hadn’t gotten another autograph for the rest of the evening I would’ve still been tickled pink about it, as I learned firsthand that he can be a erratic signer back in 2016. This Upper Deck 2009 was amazing, and the photo is a rare treat. Hines put the autograph to the canvas perfectly! It compliments the image well and makes it feel even more exciting. The 2009 Score was a set need. I wanted the 2010 Score, but I thought just getting two autographs from Hines was greedy enough.


Cushing, Brian (2) ‘B Cush’

Cards: Upper Deck Draft Edition 2009, Score 2010, Score 2010 AP
Acquired:  TTM 2017. C/o Home (?)
Sent: 5/15      Received: 8/21     (97 days)
Failure: TTM 2013, C/o Home
See Also:  Brian Cushing

For a couple of years there- well like the last 5 or so, I had been wanting to get Brian Cushing on a few more of his cards.  I had been hot on his trail after he showed up to film a commercial on the high school field that Drew Brees played on- literally a block from me. I didn’t know about it until he posted it on his twitter a day later- leaving me kicking myself, and packing a Houston Texans box of cards to always keep in my card for such future emergencies.  I fired off these cards to him in Houston, but by that point he moved to a new place. A few fans later that told me that Brian showed up once a year like clockwork to sign for a bank promotion in Houston, but I never had any luck with that event ever getting posted.

Thankfully enough a fellow collector really felt for me after I got screwed over by Just Greg on Sportscollectors.net. Greg felt that because I had asked him how much he had wanted dollarwise to help me get a few autographs, that I was essentially calling him greedy, so he decided not to help me. I felt that Greg had a more passive aggressive objective: Offer me help to get players I need, and then get some satisfaction by denying me the help he offered. Regardless, his behavior was pretty weak and it left me very disappointed in another member of the hobby.

Moving on, my friend had just gotten Brian’s autograph, so I shot these out as fast as possible to his questionable home address. A few months later, these beauties -postmarked from the Texans temporary training camp in WV came back to me with his autograph penned on all the cards.  The success gave me quite a charge, as it was the first one for Brian on the boards I track since early 2013.

I really liked his 2010 Score All Pro card. It’s a really well designed card, and while the AP is loathe to admit that they still honor his nomination.  While the 2010 base issue is a slight variant on the 2009 set, I enjoyed the deconstructive effect and design of the cards.

Brian picked up where he left off in 2010 with a All Pro worthy 2011 as he switched to an inside linebacker position in the Texans front under new defensive coordinator Wade Philips. In 16 games Cush had 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 4 sacks and 81 tackles as the team zoomed up the defensive charts. The team named Brian their MVP.

Brian’s 2012 was also off to an equally fast start with 22 tackles and an interception through 5 contests- but a dirty crack back block by Jets guard Matt Slauson ended his season. He’d rehab his ACL and return for 2013. A little more than a year after his injury, Cushing was injured again on a low block from KC runningback Jamaal Charles.  It was a gruesome injury as B Cush blew out his LCL and broke his leg.  The defense collapsed without Cushing in the lineup and the coaching staff was fired after the season.

Still you have to hand it to Cushing. He returned again from injury in 2014. Is he a cyborg? Is he bionic? I’m not sure but he picked up 41 tackles, a sack, and 1 forced fumble in 14 games playing under new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.   Already at that point, cat calls had begun for Cushing to step aside for new blood, but the linebacker remains defiant. During the 2015 preseason, Brian was brought national attention because of his intensity on display during the Texans appearance on Hard Knocks. He’d then back it up with 63 tackles in 2015- his first full 16 game slate in about 4 years.

Cush recorded his 638th tackle during the 3rd quarter of the Texans/ Colts tilt in 2016 to break the franchise’s all-time tackle mark previously held by DeMeco Ryans. Brian also was the Texans 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Nominee.  Despite the Twitter banter going around his bland statistics over the past few years, Brian is well respected by pundits and coaches around the league. Deep analysis reveals that he was quite the secret weapon on the Texans defense in 2016. He ranked 5th among ILB with an 11.5 percent run stop percentage, and first among linebackers in yards per coverage snap with only 111 yards allowed.  (I posted these facts on Twitter, and was surprised to see his wife liked it.)

All signs still pointed to go for the ageless Cushing in 2017, as he got to try his game under promoted defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, but he was suspended for a second drug infraction early in the season. Brian rejoined the Texans 10 games later, and explained that the banned substance he was suspended for was for mental health.