Friday, December 16, 2011

#24 - JOHN SCHMITT, C, Jets

John Schmitt, Jets center on this third rookie card in a row for the set. Hardly a rookie by this time, Schmitt had been a Jet since 1964 and a starter since 1966. Undrafted out of Hofstra, Schmitt would steady a line that had Winston Hill, Randy Rasmussen and Dave Herman that fronted Joe Namath for their great Super Bowl win over the Colts.

The Jets had held training camp at Hofstra for the first time before that season, odd coincidence.

Schmitt played eleven years, ten with the Jets. He would appear on a card in the 1974 set, then in the 1975 set as a Packer though he was not a starter for the whole 1974 season. Schmitt was an interim short-timer during a Packer period where they basically started three centers over a 30-year period. Jim Ringo started from 1954 to 1963, Ken Bowman from 1964 to 1973, then Larry McCarren from 1974 to 1984. Ken Iman, Bill Curry, Bob Hyland and John Schmitt....none cracked the lineup during this time. Schmitt was released by the Packers, ending his pro career.

John Schmitt went on to the board of directors of many charities, and was a chairman of Schmitt-Sussman Enterprises, a national insurance distributor. He was honored by the Epilepsy Foundation of Long Island in 2010.

A New York Times article in the 1990s about the Super Bowl champion Jets mentioned Schmitt showing off his Super Bowl ring proudly. They didn't know it was a replica. Schmitt had lost the original in 1971 surfing off the coast of Waikiki.

Reports surfaced a couple years ago that the ring had been found by a lifeguard, and his family found the ring in the lifeguard's estate. As of this last September the family had said they wanted to get the ring back to him, and Schmitt had offered to fly the family to New York. I hope it either happens or has happened by now, he seems like a good guy and has waited long enough for something he should be proud of.

CARTOON! Big Smilin' Football Guy can't get enough baseball tomfoolery! Could Jackie Robinson have been the 40's Bo Jackson? The real question I have is, what NFL team would have allowed him to play at that time?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

#23 - WAYNE COLMAN, LB, Saints

Here's linebacker Wayne Colman of the Saints. He started his pro career with the Eagles in 1968, as the back helpfully explains.He was a free agent signee in a time where the NFL had 17 rounds of draft... and the Eagles had 20 picks in 1968.

They chose five players listed at linebacker in those 20 picks, none of which played as many pro games as Colman. The number one pick, Tim Rossovich, became well known for off-field antics and some Hollywood roles later on, but he would play ten less games than Colman for his career.
Of all those 1968 picks, nine would make the pros in one fashion or another. Only OL Mark Nordquist would play more pro games than Colman.

Colman would make his way to the Saints in an injury-filled 1969 season (broken leg), and stay with them thru the end of his career in October of 1976 (retirement). He missed the entire 1975 season after breaking an arm in a preseason game.

Later in life, Colman would play a big role in young people's lives as a coach and teacher at Ocean City High School in New Jersey. One of his student/athletes was his son, Doug Colman, who penned a nice tribute on his father's retirement right here.

Doug Colman went to Nebraska, and was drafted by the Giants, having a nice five-season career as a LB in the NFL.

A picture of Wayne Colman from 2010 with his other two Topps cards (1974 and 1975) is here.
Notice that Topps re-used his 1973 shot on the 1974 card.

Upping the number of cards in the set to over 500 for 1973 allowed Topps to give some recognition to some of the solid veterans of the game, the day-to-day grinders like Wayne Colman who fought thru injuries and passed the game along to his son. I am very happy to present to you Mr. Wayne Colman. Linebacker, father, coach, teacher.

CARTOON! Big Smilin' Football Guy has a baseball glove on! This card was put together after the Braves traded for Davey Johnson, who was a high school teammate of Atlanta's Tommy Nobis. Who knew that Johnson would explode for over 40 homers in a couple of months.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

#22 - DICK ENDERLE, G, Giants

This is Dick Enderle, airbrushed into a stylish neon blue to indicate that Topps did not take a picture of him during the 1972 season. He was a Falcon, as the back text describes, from 1969 to 1971. He was dealt to the Giants in 1972 for a late draft pick and placed on the taxi squad before the 1973 season, activated before the games started up.

During that season, he got into at least one scrape in practice with a teammate, LB Pat Hughes, and the team as a whole suffered through a terrible 2-11-1 season. They won the first game in 1973 over the Oilers, and Enderle would play a controversial part in the second game of the year against the hapless Eagles. Pete Gogolak launched a field goal as time expired to salvage a 23-all tie, but Eagles coach McCormack said game film showed Enderle moving before the snap. The refs didn't see it, and some press said the Eagles were "robbed" of an "upset" victory. Philly would actually finish with three more wins than the Giants, the Giants would go 1-11 the rest of the season.

Enderle was waived by New York in November of 1975, and his career gets sketchy after that. He was in the Saints training camp in 1976 but was cut, picked up by the 49ers a couple days after that. Cut in September after a few games, he was signed by the Packers in October and finished his career there. A Milwaukee newspaper article at the time mentioned that Enderle had played for the Broncos, but I could not find any confirmation of that at all.

The 1973 Topps series can be looked at the same way one would look at expansion teams in major sports. Many athletes would play just the one expansion year, and not before or since. Enderle's only football card was this 1973, and there will be many more one-and-dones at we continue this set. Topps made some interesting choices on who to include, and I've managed to cull a few 1973 pics of players who did NOT make the cut that I'll display sometime.

Enderle would pass away at age 60 in 2008.

ERROR ALERT! The otherwise useless stat on the back of this card has Enderle falling on a kickoff just once in his career. Pro Football Reference says he returned another kick in 1971 for 20 yards against the Vikings. Not bad for an offensive lineman.

CARTOON! Smilin' Big Football Guy clobbers running Big Football Guy with a billy club, causing a star to erupt from the player's helmet. If smilin' guy can get to that star, he will be invincible for a short period of time.