Card: Upper Deck College Legends 2011 Acquired: Box Breaker, 2019
I bought a box of Upper Deck College Legends at the beginning of 2019 with the Christmas money I had gotten. Inside was this gem of a pull. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d get Cam’s autograph so this came as quite a happy surprise and a shot in the arm to start off the year.
After seeing little playing time at Florida, Cam Newton transferred to Blinn Junior College for a year where he won the equivalent of the JC National Championship in 2009. The following year in 2010, he joined the Auburn Tigers and led them to a National Championship. He also won the Heisman Trophy as a dual threat quarterback, passing for 2854 yards on 185 of 280 throws, along with 30 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. On the ground, Cam rushed for 1473 yards and 20 touchdowns on 264 carries.
He’d cap off his monumental year by being selected #1 overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft- who immediately turned over the reins of the franchise to their new starting quarterback. Critics were quickly silenced when he threw for over 400 yards in his first game, and shattered rookie quarterback records, en route to Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors.
Arguably his best season came in 2015 when he won the NFL Offensive MVP award, and led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50. During the regular season he threw for 3837 yards and 35 touchdowns and a career low 10 interceptions, while rushing for 637 yards and 10 TDs.
Since that point, Cam’s career has gone sideways as inconsistency and injuries have forcibly taken their toll over his career. In 2019 he started a career low 2 games, and although he is still considered one of the most underrated offensive threats in the league, Cam has faced withering criticism from fans who feel that his wardrobe is more important than his game. He was allowed to enter free agency in 2020, and after a longer than usual wait, Cam signed with the New England Patriots where he currently is their starting quarterback.
Card: Upper Deck College Legends 2011 Acquired: 2019, Box Breaker
Shifty and speedy, Noel Devine posted solid numbers while he played college ball at West Virginia. He finished his college career with 4317 yards on 729 carries, scoring 29 TDs. Noel also had 98 receptions for 710 yards for 2 TDs. His personal best was in 2009 when he posted 241 carries for 1465 yards and 13 TDs on the ground. Due to his size (5’7, 160), an ankle injury, and a poor combine showing- Noel was not drafted during the 2011 draft.
He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, but after 4 days he left the team for undisclosed reasons. Unable to find an NFL squad, Noel joined the UFL Omaha Nighthawks (2011) for a season rushing 5 times for 14 yards and a TD, while catching 2 passes for 20 yards. The following year he’d join the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL playing there for two seasons (2012-2013). After a short off-season with the Edmonton Eskimos, he returned to WVU to finish his law degree in 2015.
During 2017 he resurrected his football career joining The Spring League, and in early 2019 signed with the Wheeling Roughriders of the American Arena League. He was among the players available for the XFL 2020 pool, but was not selected.
I pulled this autograph from a box of Upper Deck College Legends I bought in 2019. It’s rarer and rarer to see on card autographs, but overall I was pretty impressed with the look of this shot.
Ron Dayne ran into the college record books with 7,125 career yards rushing for Wisconsin over a 4 year period from 1996 to 1999. In both 1996 and 1999 he cracked the 2,000 yard plateau for the Badgers. During his senior season Ron ran 337 times for 2,034 yards and 20 TDs, culminating in him winning the Heisman Trophy and wresting the rushing record from Ricky Williams. Ron was selected in the 1st round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New York Giants.
With Gary Brown on the way out in New York, the Giants were looking to shore up their woeful backfield which had a woeful combined 1408 yards rushing. Ron was a good fit for the team. With the emergence of Tiki Barber at runningback at a hair above 1,000 yards, Ron took on more of a fullback/ short yardage/ bam back role for the Giants. He’d start 4 games and rush for 770 yards on 228 carries and 5 TDs as NY made it to the Super Bowl. Fans dubbed Ron ‘Thunder’ and Barber ‘Lightning’ based on their 1 2 punch in the backfield- however this was the high point in his early career.
Ron really never found his footing in New York as a starting back. During 2001 he’d start 7 games, and there was always the concern about his yards per carry which hung consistently around 3.4 yards per carry. Injuries were also an issue, as it seemed unfairly that the idea of running players into the ground before they made it to the pros became popularized after Dayne was drafted. His stats dropped every season in New York until he was released after the 2004 season.
Ron signed with the Denver Broncos in 2005, eager for a fresh start, but after a dubious start, he finished with only 270 yards and a TD in 10 games. On the bright side, he had a career high 5.1 yards per carry- but it’d be his only season playing for the Broncos as he’d be unceremoniously cut in camp.
Ron was snapped up by the Texans looking for veteran help at the runningback position to pair alongside Vernand Morency and rookie Wali Lundy after Domanick Davis was shelved on IR. Ron had previously played under offensive coordinator (now coach of the Texans) Gary Kubiak in Denver so this made a good fit. In 11 games (6 starts) Ron would have a renaissance of sorts with the Texans, rumbling for 612 yards and 5 TDs (4.1 YPC). He’d return in 2007 to Houston, and start a career high 8 games filling in for Ahman Green, rushing 194 times for a career high 773 yards and 6 TDs (4.0 YPC), and helping the young franchise reach an 8-8 record.
Dayne lives in Wisconsin. I got his autograph through his website via jumping through hoops and paying a fee. I had always wanted to get his autograph for a variety of reasons, (Heisman Winner, College All-Time Cumulative Leading Rusher, he played for the Texans) and this great card. I couldn’t get a scan to do the bottom portion justice but based on the photo area alone, it’s a nice piece.
On a side note, I was told by a Texans player that Dayne loved to play cards on plane flights (and was an easy mark).
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.