Skip to main content

Brush with greatness: Brian Leonard

I am trying to keep these Brush With Greatness posts to baseball while there are still some baseball players left to feature. But I will make an exception for this one card.

First, the card was sent to me by Ben of Cardboard Icons. It's fancy, shiny, over-the-top, all of that, and it must be recognized. Secondly, it's a card of a player that I covered when he was in high school. And to see him on a trading card -- even though he is entering his fourth season in the NFL -- still blows my mind.

Brian Leonard was just a goofy kid from a school that sits literally in the middle of nowhere. The school is located in a town built along a single road. There are several stoplights along the way, but if you leave the main road and travel to the left or the right, you are in countryside in less than 5 minutes.

The town is in the largest county east of the Mississippi River. It's very sparsely populated, on the northern edge of the Adirondack Mountains. Most of the high schools are very small and the school's athletes traditionally fair poorly compared with other areas in the state. The schools are so small that most don't feature football teams. Consequently, the football isn't very competitive. Up until Leonard came along, I think only other player from the county made the NFL.

That was the situation Leonard grew up in: a gullible kid without a conceited bone in his body existing in a small town in a giant country with few people in an uncompetitive environment lacking a history of major athletic success.

And Leonard is in the NFL.

That's what talent will do. People will find you.

I often think about Leonard co-existing on the same team as Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Carson Palmer and chuckle to myself. This is the same kid whose coach could getting him to do anything -- a fired up, almost squirrely boy with a perpetual grin, who had no idea that he just set the state record for most touchdowns in a game.

That's what being able to hurdle standing tacklers will do.

Leonard's NFL career is pretty much as a third- and fourth-down guy who can make the catch in the open field and get you some yards. He's got speed and power and the NFL always likes that. He was featured on HBO's Hard Knocks last year when they dedicated their series to the Bengals.

Leonard isn't as accessible to us as he was as a high school kid. It was difficult to get ahold of him for awhile there. Lately, we've been able to reach him once or twice a year, which is adequate. He still sounds like the same goofy, eager kid that he was at age 17.

Since Leonard made it to the NFL, another player from a town 30 miles away has made the pros, too. Actually for such a sparsely populated area, it's amazing how many locals ended competing professionally in sports.

Many thanks to Ben for adding this card to my Brush With Greatness collection. He also contributed some more typical cards:

A golden James Loney from 2008 Bowman. As good as a season as Loney is having, the fact that he's hitting clean-up is not good news for the Dodgers.

Two more players that will become answers to the question: "Whatever happened to the Dodgers in 2010?"

Another golden card, this time of a Boy of Summer. The Dodgers landed both Cox and Preacher Roe from the Pirates in the late 1940s and that ended up helping to make Roger Kahn a household name.

Finally, a suspicious-looking Andruw Jones on a game-used bat card. Given the subject, I'm assuming the bat was not "used" successfully.

About the only thing worse than going through the Dodgers' season right now is if I had to go through it with this guy still on the team.

It's almost enough to make me wonder how those Buffalo Bills are doing.


I can really pick my sports teams can't I?


longlivethewho said…
A Bills fan too eh? I didn't think I'd find another one.

Did you see they released Schobel today as well? Their best DE in the past five years. Gah.
steelehere said…
As a fellow Dodger fan, one way I've been dealing with this lousy season is to also follow their top prospects box scores on

It's nice to see that the Dodgers have potential replacements for Rafael Furcal in Dee Gordon (39 SB's in AA and plays SS) and Manny Ramirez in Jerry Sands (29 HR's in AA and play OF) if they leave as free agents after the season ends as well as quite a few other prospects better than the ones they traded recently.
SpastikMooss said…
Leonard always seemed like a good dude, glad to hear that that's the case. I like your bit about how it's funny that he's on the same team as guys like TO and Ocho Cinco, and I definitely agree. I guess it's nice to have a guy who isn't a major personality on a team that's filled with them.

Also, oucccch for your Bills fan-ness. They're the kind of team that make me feel okay to be a Browns fan lately.

Popular posts from this blog

That was easy

   My approach on 2021 Topps, after seeing the cards, empty shelves and the tales of inflated prices, was that I could last the entire year without buying any.   The effort wasn't worth it. I'll just take my Dodgers and go home.   I went to Target once after the release date a couple weeks ago, I don't really remember what day I went, and saw empty shelves and shrugged.   So, move forward two weeks and it's birthday season. Those who have read this blog for awhile know I have a lot of birthdays in my family in March and it's the primary shopping time of the year, besides Christmas. I went to Target yesterday for a few items and I made sure to check the card aisle, just in case. I didn't expect to find anything, but I think you know me by now, I have to buy my first packs of the season if I have the opportunity. It's worth a look. The shelves seemed fairly empty as I approached. But they weren't. When I got there, I saw maybe six or seven 2021 Topps baseb

Reliving my childhood isn't easy

  My favorite part of collecting cards doesn't have to do with collecting current players, rookie cards or prospecting.   Although I pay attention to and buy modern cards and also seek out cards from before I was collecting or even before I was born, none of those cards are why I'm doing this.   The best part of collecting for me -- where the warm fuzzies reside, what I'd save for myself after chucking the rest of my collection -- is any card that was released when I was a child or young teen. I don't think I'm special in that way. A lot of collectors probably feel that way. But, unlike, say, the adult who grew up during the junk wax era, who can open pack after pack of 1990 Donruss and get that nostalgic rush without fear of packs ever disappearing, it's a little more difficult for me. I can go to a discount store a couple of miles away in town and grab some 1988 Donruss packs (I think I can still do that, who knows with the hobby weirdness lately). But there&#

G.O.A.T, the '80s: 20-11

  Big news at the night owl nest today. I subscribed to MLB.TV. Finally, I can watch any game I want this season. I no longer have to suffer with seeing the Mets play the Marlins for the 197th time or grit my teeth through Michael Kay because there's no baseball to watch anywhere else. I can ignore the Yankees for 162 games if I want! And that's what I plan to do. The Phillies-Orioles spring training game is on right now and then I'll search out something even more obscure later. I know, I know, I'm late to the party. That's the way it's been when it comes to entertainment viewing for most of my life. Taking years to land an MLB subscription was more of a cash-flow issue, but when I was younger, I'd miss out on the popular movies all the time because of a relatively sheltered existence. While high school classmates were quoting lines from Caddyshack and Stripes in the lunch room and on the school bus, I knew mostly Star Wars movies and E.T. HBO was the big t