A two-time All-American and Outland Trophy Winner while playing defensive tackle for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Bobby Bell was coveted by both the AFL and NFL- and ultimately was drafted by both the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963.
Considered one of the most dominant defenders of his era, Bobby spent his first two years at left defensive end, earning his first Pro Bowl nomination in ’64. He then moved to left linebacker in 1965, and earned his first of 8 consecutive All-Star/Pro Bowl and 6 consecutive All AFL or All Pro nominations at the position. He earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year Honors in 1969. Bobby was also a great special teamer. He played for the Chiefs through the 1974 season, and was instrumental in Kansas City’s Super Bowl IV victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Sacks however did not become a tracked number until 1982.
Since retirement, Bobby had his number retired by the Chiefs, was named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, AFL All-Time Team, the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame, and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2016.
Bobby has some great cards, and was an incredible player. Because of this I saw getting his autograph for a small signing fee to be a bargain. I loved both his Topps 1970 and the Upper Deck 1997 Legends card of his.
A transfer from Cerritos, Jim Zorn played at Cal Poly-Ponoma, where he set multiple passing records for the school from 1973 to 1974 as a dual threat quarterback. He was not selected in the 1975 NFL Amateur Draft, but he signed a free agent contract with the Cowboys. Jim did not make the squad, but made enough of an impression that he was brought in by the brand new Seattle Seahawks franchise the following year (1976) to compete in camp.
Jim ended up winning the starting quarterback job outright, and was named rookie of the year in 1976, leading the league with 439 attempts- and interceptions with 27, while rushing for 4 TDs. In 1977 he started 10 games, but posted a gaudy league leading 16.2 yards per completion on 104 passes. By 1978 it was obvious that Zorn to Largent was becoming a household name, as the franchise posted back to back 9-7 records under his leadership. Jim’s penchant for scrambling was in full effect, as he carried the ball 59 times for 290 yards and 6 TDs. He’d have all career single season passing highs in the latter year (1979) throwing for 3661 yards (285/505) and 20 TDs to 18 interceptions. It seemed that Jim’s best games where when he was on the run and improvising. As his rushing stats decreased over the following seasons, so did his passing stats, and win/ loss record. In 1983 he’d be benched in favor of Dave Krieg. At that time, Jim, had been the only quarterback pretty much in the history of the franchise, and owned virtually all the franchise passing records.
Jim signed with the Green Bay Packers in 1985. He posted a 3-2 record for the team, passing for 794 yards and 4 TDs. In 1986, Jim traveled to Winnipeg where he backed up John Hufnagel and Tom Clements, on the Blue Bombers. After his lone season in the CFL, Zorn returned to the NFL in 1987 where he played one final swan song for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, beating the Minnesota Vikings 20-10, before retiring.
Jim has an extensive coaching resume. He started shortly after retiring from football in college, taking stops in as an assistant coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach at Boise State (1988-1991), Utah State (1992-1994) and 1995-1996 at Minnesota. He quickly joined the NFL as an assistant with his former team- the Seahawks in 1997. Afterwards it was off to the Lions from 1998-2000, where he began to really develop a reputation as a great quarterback whisperer. He then returned to the Seahawks in 2001. He remained QB coach for the franchise until 2007, where he made the jump to head coach with the Washington Redskins.
Jim Zorn’s Washington Redskins tenure was shortlived. Embarrassing moments were not in short supply unfortunately. First the Redskins broke the hapless Lions 0-16 streak dating back through 2008. Then, during a game in 2009 against the Giants, Jim called a ‘swinging gate’ formation (which is reliant on the element of surprise to make mismatches)- so the Giants wisely called a timeout. The Redskins not only stuck to the play- it resulted in an interception, and caused the team to get booed off the field at half time. He lasted two seasons, as the Redskins failed to compete- posting a 12-20 record.
After coaching for the Redskins, Jim served one season as QB coach of the Ravens in 2010, and then as QB coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011 and 2012. He joined the XFL as head coach of the Seattle Dragons, and as his offensive coordinator Mike Riley took a leave of absence from the team, Jim had to take a more hands on approach. He was able to navigate the team through a quarterback controversy and a win before the league was terminated after the 5th game of the season, due to COVID.
I was surprised that Jim was not a part of the XFL 2020 set released by Topps. Nonetheless I wanted to get his autograph on this Upper Deck 1997 Legends card I had of his. I love this card. The detail is stunning, even down to the cheerleaders and band in the background.
He signed this card in 6 days flat and inscribed it with an interesting passage:
Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool.
One of the forgotten greats of the game, Hugh McElhenny scored a TD the first time he carried the ball after joining the 49ers in 1952, as the franchise’s #1 draft pick. He’d go on to become a member of the ‘Million Dollar Backfield’ for the franchise, and after 10 seasons in the league, had already cemented himself in NFL lore as one of the top 5 NFL rushers of all-time. An explosive halfback, McElhenny was feared not only as a rusher, but as a pass receiver and kick returner as well. In his rookie year, he’d average an incredible 7.0 yards a pop on 98 carries, carried by a career long 89 yard romp for a TD. Moonlighting as a punt returner, he also cashed in on a 94 yard return for a TD. At the time there was no Rookie of the Year Honors in the NFL, however he was recognized by his peers as the best overall rookie in the league. His best year came in 1956, when he carried the ball 185 times for 916 yards and 8 TDs- recording 1,109 yards from scrimmage.
In 1961, Hugh joined the Minnesota Vikings as an expansion selection. He’d spend two seasons there, but not before recording his final Pro Bowl effort in 1961. Age and injury began to take their toll on Hugh after that, and while he didn’t see time as a full-time starter, he’d play for the Vikings in 1962, Packers/Giants in 1963 and Lions in 1964 before retiring.
Hugh was a prolific runner in college. Transferring from Compton JC to Washington- he’d rush for over 1,000 yards in 1950, and set school marks with 296 yards rushing in a single game. He’d earn All-America Honors at fullback, but saw action on special teams as a kicker, punt returner and kick returner. Over 3 years for the Huskies, McElhenny logged 2,499 yards rushing, 122 yards passing and 2,621 yards total offense.
McElhenny after retirement, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970, the College Football Hall of Fame, and had his number retired by the San Fransisco 49ers and is a member of the team’s Hall of Fame. In addition, he was a 6 time pro bowler, 5 time First team All Pro, and was named a member of the 1950’s All Decade Team. McElhenny dabbled in broadcasting working for the ‘9ers working preseason games for a few years there and was involved with a push to get an expansion team awarded to Seattle.
Hugh is a diamond in the rough frequently overlooked by fans for his autograph because he played in a bygone era when teams played 12-14 game seasons. This reflects on his statistics, and while not gaudy by current standards, they were nonetheless impressive based on their time and era. He currently remains easily obtainable TTM and signs for a very modest fee.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.