(May 26, 2006) — The NFL Draft certainly had its share of surprises this year. It started with a bang when the Houston Texans announced the night before the draft they had passed on Reggie Bush and instead reached a deal with defensive end Mario Williams.
Bush then fell to the Saints and – if history is any indication – into collector oblivion. Sure, there will always be collectors who will want Bush’s autograph because of his Heisman, but chances are, as long as he’s with the Saints, just about everything he signs will relate to USC.
Long before the local problems created by Hurricane Katrina, the Saints weren’t on the maps of most collectors. Most guys who played for the Saints – even those who had their best years there – have more of a following with other teams (pro or college) they played for.
Ricky Williams and George Rogers are two players who come to mind. Both Heisman winners eventually played for other NFL teams, and the collector following is more with that team than with the Saints. The only Saint who has any real collector interest is Tom Dempsey, and that’s because he kicked an NFL-record, 63-yard field goal while with the team.
Willie Roaf may eventually take over that spot if he’s elected to the Hall.
Bush’s USC teammate, Matt Leinart, didn’t exactly hit the jackpot with collectors when he fell to the Cardinals at the 10th slot, either. The Cardinals are much like the Saints in that they have virtually no collector following in the national marketplace. Their situation is complicated even further by the fact that the Cards are a transplanted team.
With the exception of Hall of Famers like Jackie Smith, Larry Wilson and Dan Dierdorf, there is very little interest. And those players did their thing in St. Louis, not in Arizona. Like Bush, Leinart will always have his following for what he did at USC. It would be surprising if there’s ever much of a market for his Cardinals material – no matter how well he performs.
— By Mike Breeden