Do you remember the XFL? Vince McMahon’s upstart football league captured the imagination of fans who were hungry for football, but went under after just one season of play. Personally, I loved the XFL’s faster-paced games and watched every week. I wanted football cards of XFL players, but at the time there were no companies producing them. What was a person to do? Well, you know me, I went and made some myself!
Rod Smart was a running back for Western Kentucky University while I was a student there, and was a very popular player. He was not selected in the 2000 NFL draft, and after attending training camp with the San Diego Chargers he was released. He also spent some time north of the border in the CFL, but again was waived before playing a regular season game. In 2001, he signed with the Las Vegas Outlaws and became known for his nickname, “He Hate Me,” featured on the back of his jersey. He was a quick signer, returning this “card” in a little over two weeks. After the XFL folded, Smart caught on with the Philadelphia Eagles for 2001, and spent spent four years with the Carolina Panthers. He was most recently selected by Team Tennessee of the new All American Football League.
Casey Weldon finished second in Heisman voting in 1991 to Desmond Howard, but his professional career was not overly impressive. He played with four NFL teams from 1992 to 1999, and ended up with the Birmingham Thunderbolts in the XFL in 2001. I printed two of these “cards” and sent them to him, writing in the letter that he could keep one if he wanted. I guess he didn’t want to, or he didn’t read the letter, because he sent them both back autographed. It took a little over a month. More recently, Weldon coached his alma mater North Florida Christian High School to a record of 23-5 in two seasons, but was fired in 2007 after losing his second straight state title.
I also printed “cards” of a couple of other guys around the same time because I wanted their autographs, but to my knowledge there was no cardboard of them yet.
Brad Hoover is a fullback with Carolina. I had no idea he was still playing until I looked him up on Wikipedia. He had a huge game against the Green Bay Packers during his rookie season in a Monday Night Football game, rushing for over 100 yards. I printed this photo of him shortly after that game and sent away for his autograph. It came back in less than two weeks along with a black and white photo.
Eric Crouch won the 2001 Heisman Trophy while playing with Nebraska, but failed to translate that into professional success. NFL teams thought he was too small to play quarterback, and tried to play him as a wide receiver or a safety. He performed well in the NFL Europe with Hamburg, with 25 tackles and 2 passes defended. He finally got the opportunity to play quarterback with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, but was released last September after battling injuries. Crouch was selected by Team Texas with the third overall pick in the inaugural AAFL draft last month. The above photo was sent to him in December of 2000, and I didn’t receive it back until August of 2001. A great surprise, no doubt!
I hope the AAFL takes off. It would be nice to see the NFL get some real competition.