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.
Ken Houston was one of the greatest NFL defensive backs to play the game. Playing at safety for the Houston Oilers in 1967, Kenny was a blessed athlete and track man with an incredible nose for the ball. He picked off 4 passes his rookie season and scored 2 TDs. (He scored a 3rd TD via blocked field goal that season as well.)
Then from 1968 through 1979, Ken was named to the Pro Bowl, while also garnishing 2 time AP Honors (10 time 2nd team AP Honors). He scored 2 more TDs on interceptions in 1968, then tied the NFL record with 4 (with a 5th via fumble recovery) on 9 interceptions in 1971.
Kenny was traded to the Washington Redskins in 1973. for at the time a blockbuster deal. The Redskins handed over 5 players to land Houston. Ken paid off as over the next 8 seasons recorded 24 more interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries.
Over Kenny’s storried career he scored a TD 4 different ways: Interception, Fumble, Punt, and Blocked Kick. He was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the 1986 class. He’s also been showered with honors and accolades.
As of 2020, Ken lives in the Houston area and is a member of neither the Redskins or Titans Ambassadors group, but rather the Houston Texans, and makes appearances for the team. He does quite a lot of work for charities, including Houston area hospitals.
I had hoped to get Ken on an Oilers card, but frankly I hated them all, so I went with these Redskins cards. Ah well, these two were by far my favorite, even though they were both post playing career finds. His Action Packed Whizzer White is an exceptional specimen, while is Legends shows him laying the wood out.
I had gotten these cards some time ago and sat on them. I hoped that I’d corner him at a Texans team function but no dice. I actually met his son at a pregame event back in 2015 when the Texans played the Chiefs and he was very nice. It only took me another 4 years or so to finally go ahead and send these out to him with a small signing fee. He turned these around in no time flat, and that in turn triggered a tsunami on different TTM sites for requests from him.
Slowly I had been working my way back around to Mike after about a 9 year layoff or so. I had been sold the Score 1990 card as part of a big lot of cards from the Akron Acquisition- so I needed a few more to fill out the ranks. Mike is another one of these players I didn’t want to see in his other NFL uniform (Falcons in this case). He still had some great Oilers cards I wanted to get signed- and once I got the Upper Deck 1997 card -in 2018, I made the decision to write him again. To seal the deal I also pulled this Panini Contenders card of him and put it aside for send out since I’ve gotten a few autographs recently around that set.
High grades for his Legends card from Upper Deck. Love the sports photography and how its got that nice action blur in the background. Far too often I’ve noticed photos where the people in the background are clear as day and distract from the player. In this case- this photo feels like a training or mini camp shot. I think the bushy trees give it away. Still, it’s a nice piece.
Mike’s Action Packed 1990 card is okay. I think it’s typical of AP at that time with that distance of framing images, but in this case, I feel like the image should’ve been pulled back a bit. Was Mike diving for a TD? Reaching out from a pile? Struggling to get back to the line of scrimmage? The design like all AP from 90 was simple and elegant however.
The Score 1990 set was a letdown from 89. I mean nothing could top what they did in that first set. The design here is nice, but the bordering with the logo is a bit heavy. The neon green marquee feels a bit unnecessary and forced. I kept wondering, “What does purple have to do with the Oilers?” It’s a decent action shot but I question Mike’s sense of dress as his thermal shirt sleeves are quite dated.
No question the Panini Contenders Draft Picks set has grown on me over the last… year or so. While I find it a bit over designed it’s a set that has a good selection of names in it. This shot however of Mike is terrible. He just looks like he’s jogging off the field to the sidelines.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.