Tag Archives: upper deck legends 1997

Tittle, Y.A. “Yat” (1926-2017)

Cards: Upper Deck Legends 1997, Topps Football Archives
Acquired: TTM 2012, C/o YA Tittle & Associates
Sent: 10/12   Received: 10/22  (10 days)

YA Tittle first played way, way, back in the days of the AAFC in 1948 and 1949 for the Baltimore Colts. Arguably the best things that came out of the All-American Football Conference were the Colts, Cleveland Browns.. and YA Tittle, who joined the NFL in 1950.  While with the AAFC, YA was 309/598  for 4731 yards, 30 TDs and 27 picks. He’d be named rookie of the year in 1948.

Pretty good stats for a kid from Marshall, Tx who ran out on the University of Texas, went to LSU, and had asthma.  Well the Colts- went on hiatus really, after the 1950 season, so YA signed with the San Fransisco 49ers and became a major building block for the team’s “Million Dollar Backfield”. Although he shared passing duties his first two seasons, it didn’t seem to discourage Tittle, as he threw for 20 touchdowns in 1953 in his first season as a full-time starter. He’d also play most of the 1954 season with a broken hand. Tittle was named to the ProBowl in 1953, 1954, 1957, and 1959. For his efforts in 1957 where he threw for 2157 yards, completed 63.1% of his passes, 13 touchdowns, and 220 yards rushing, YA won AP honors.  During this period Tittle would perfect one of the first specialized pass plays called, the “Alley Oop”- a jump pass he spontaneously worked on with receiver RC Owens during that season. The alley oop was the predecessor to the modern day lob pass and actually inspired the basketball play by the same name. After 10 seasons with the ‘9ers and the emergence of John Brodie, YA thought about retiring but was traded straight up for a rookie to the New York Giants in 1960.

It’d be there that Yat cemented his legacy as a legendary quarterback and Giant great. The Giants turned him loose and the renewed 35 year old Tittle took the league by storm with 3 of the best seasons of his career setting the passing touchdown record in 1962 with 33, and 1963 with 36. In a game during the 1962 season, Tittle threw an earth shattering 7 touchdown passes and 505 yards in one game. The touchdown number has never been surpassed, but tied by 4 other players including George Blanda and Sid Luckman. Tittle won the NFL MVP honor in 1963 for his 33 touchdown passes.

The amazing thing about the touchdown passing record, is that it stood for over 20 years, from an era where passing wasn’t the science it is today, and it was done in  less games.  (His passing record would be shattered by Dan Marino, and later Tom Brady.) From 61-63 Yat was named to the Pro Bowl and AP, before he had an injury plagued final season in 1964. Tittle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 and lives in California. He still runs his insurance agency YA Tittle and Associates, that he started when he was still playing football.

Att  4395     Comp  2427     Yds  33070    Pct 55.2%
Td  242     Int  248     Rat 74.3
Rush 372    Yds 1245    Avg      Td 39    Lg   45

UPDATE: 10/9/17- YA Tittle passed away today at the grand old age of 90.

Johnson, Billy “White Shoes”


udlg97 ws johnson udlg97 ws johnson BCard: Upper Deck Legends 1997
Acquired: 11/23/2012, Fiterman Autograph Event
Failure: 2010, C/o Home

Billy Johnson, played for tiny Widener college in Pennsylvania. Going unnoticed- despite his white shoes and penchant for big plays, numbers, and great speed, the Oilers said, “Why not?”, and drafted White Shoes in the 15th round of the 1974 draft. There the fan favorite Johnson lit the NFL on fire with his breathtaking speed at returner and his entertaining end zone celebration called ‘The Funky Chicken’. (Johnson’s dance, is still celebrated today as one of the first, and was the Granddaddy to such dances as: Ernest Givins‘ “Electric Slide”, Ickey Woods‘ “Ickey Shuffle”, and Jamaal Anderson’s “Dirty Bird”.)  White Shoes played during the heyday of the Luv’ Ya Blu era in Houston, alongside Dan Pastorini, Ken Burrough, and Earl Campbell. He set an NFL record in 1975 by returning 3 punts for touchdowns in a single season. Not to be outdone that year, he also had a kick return as well, earning him AP honors and the Pro Bowl MVP after the season. White Shoes continued to set the standard for electrifying play throughout the 70s and the crowd always held their breath with excitement when he took the field. He again won AP honors topping his 15.3 YPR average from ’75 with a 15.4 YPR average in 77, with 539 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a kick returner he was also equally amazing, scoring another touchdown there as well.  A catastrophic knee injury wrecked his 1978 and 79 seasons. After a final season in Houston in 1980, White Shoes travelled north to the CFL for a year doing everything for the Montreal Alouettes.

The Falcons gave him a shot in 1983, and Johnson not only made the roster of the team, he had also matured as a receiver. Although he only started one game that season, Billy had 709 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns, (both career highs,) and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. In ’83 he scored another touchdown on a punt return, and was named AP and back to the Pro Bowl again for a 3rd time. He posted career highs again in 1984 in receiving with 830 yards and 5 touchdowns. Playing one final season in Atlanta, White Shoes went on to Washington and retired after the 1987 season. He’s been named to the NFL 75th Anniversary team and also the All-Decade Team of the 1980s.

It took me some time to get my autographs back from the Fiterman event but I finally did get my cards back some 3 weeks after the event. The company did apologize and adjusted their time-frame for delivery expectations for TTM on their website. I like to have my cards autographed on the front, but based on the report from Fiterman, White Shoes apparently refused to do so because he was not wearing white shoes on the front of this card. Still I am happy to knock out an elusive signer, after a previous attempt and failure.

G  143       PR 282         Yds 3317            Avg  11.8           Td 6         Lg 87t
Kr 123       Yds 2941          Avg 23.9         Td 2          Lg 81t
Rec  337       Yds 4211     Avg 12.5          Td 25       Lg  71t
Rush 56        Yds 316       Avg 5.6             Td 2         Lg 61

Highlight reel of Johnson and.. the Funky Chicken:

Bednarik, Chuck “Concrete Charlie” (1925-2015)

Cards: Upper Deck Legends 1997, Topps 1960
Acquired: TTM 2011, C/o Home
Sent:  9/2  Received: 9/13 (11 days)

Considered one of the great legends of football, Chuck Bednarik was the last 60 minute ‘Iron Man’ player in the NFL starting both at center and linebacker over the majority of his career. Originally the #1 overall pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1949 NFL draft, he was an effective blocker and a destructive force at linebacker that players across the league feared. In over 14 seasons, he only missed 3 games his entire career, while in the off-season he worked as a concrete salesman, earning the nickname “Concrete Charlie”.  An incredibly conditioned athlete, it is a wonder how Chuck was able to play all 60 minutes on both sides of the ball in such a high contact position. Truly he was a man among boys. Over his career he’d be named AP 10 times, to the NFL 1950s team, the 1953 ProBowl MVP, the Eagles Honor Roll, a member of the 1949 and 1960 NFL Championship squad, and have his number retired by the Eagles- a team he played his entire career for.

Shining in the most opportune moments, Chuck is perhaps best known for a bone-jarring hit of former Giants runningback Frank Gifford that knocked Gifford out for over a season, and for playing 58 minutes in the 1960 Championship game where he made the touchdown saving tackle on runningback Jim Taylor to preserve the victory.

Since retirement Bednarik has not lost any of his fire, acting a notable outspoken critic of player benefits and as a straight-shooting opinion on the condition of the Eagles and the NFL.  The Maxwell Club also annually since 1995 has presented a trophy in his honor to the best defensive collegiate player in the nation.

I had heard that Bednarik was extremely charitable with signing for fans and the rumors proved to be true. Due to problems with resellers and EBayers selling his cards, Bendarik provides only one free autograph now, and charges $20.00 for any additional memorabilia. Once again, jerks ruining it for the rest of us.

G 169       Tac  N/a     Sac N/a    Fum  21
Int  20     Yds  268       Avg 13.4        Td 1

UPDATE- Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik passed away early on Saturday 3/21/2015. He was 89. Chuck is survived by 5 kids, 10 grandchildren, and his wife of 67 years.