Classic card of the week
Todd Hammel, 1991 World League Pro Set
Todd Hammel had just thrown his fifth interception of the first quarter when he walked back to the sidelines, looking straight ahead at NY/NJ Knights’ head coach Brett Massingil. The coach looked back at his quarterback, and, after an inquisitive squint, called him over. Still staring at his QB, Massingil said to him, “Todd, look at me. No, up here…look at me. Can you…can you see?” Massingil had noticed that, because of Hammel’s unprecedented high-top mullet, his helmet sat oddly on top of his head, placing the top bar of his facemask directly in the line of his vision. After additional coaxing from the offensive coordinator, Hammel finally admitted that, no, he could not see anything out there. In fact, the previous week, the Knights were involved in a tight 0-0 game with the rival PA/OH Barnstormers, when, in an attempt to calm his team in the huddle before a crucial third down in the fourth quarter, Hammel turned to his teammates and said, “Hey, is that John Candy over there in the stands?” After looking over his shoulder, a confused offensive lineman named Todd Blunthead turned to Hammel and said, “That’s Emmanuel Lewis.” It was at that point when the entire team panicked, and when Hammel dropped back to pass, he mistakenly threw the ball through the uprights, thinking he had given the Knights a 3-0 lead. Instead, the Knights were penalized 50 yards for “extreme incompetence,” thus putting the Barnstormers in field-goal position, and ending the game. Hammel would later admit that he was scared to mention his complete lack of vision because he assumed that someone in the front office would make him cut his mullet. It was, after all, around the same time that Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner had forced Don Mattingly to shave his sideburns. Ironically, sideburns were the least of Todd Hammel’s problems:
Regardless, a compromise was in order. Instead of Hammel cutting his mullet or the Knights absorbing the cost of a specially ordered helmet, the World League decided, upon further review, that Hammel’s mullet could actually act as a helmet, thus clearing his line of vision. The following game, with eyes that could see for miles, Hammel threw seven interceptions, but that was mostly because he threw the ball two-handed.
Did you know?
Italian Americans within the metropolitan area found the symbol of the NY/NJ Knights – a horse head – implicit and offensive.