We end the week at OA with a personal favorite of mine–a guy who exemplifies the mediocre 90’s football players who I grew up watching. This guy is one of the first dudes I remember thinking about when we started the Obscure Athletes project a handful of years ago. I’m of course talking about Niners great JJ Stokes.
The first football video game I ever had was NFL Quarterback Club ’96 for the Super Nintendo. When my buddy Eric and I would play QB Club there would be one rule: you can’t play with the 49ers; they were just too good in that game. Or sometimes, we’d both be the 9ers, to make it fair.
The 49ers picked JJ Stokes with the tenth overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft out of UCLA, and he had a semi-successful rookie season with San Fransisco, catching 38 passes for 517 yards and 4 touchdowns in twelve games. After an injury-plagued 1996 campaign in which Stokes played just six games, Stokes rebounded well in 1997, catching 58 balls and racking up 733 receiving yards. Stokes never would return to his Steve- Young-era form after the team brought in Jeff Garcia to run the offense. Given how highly he was drafted, Stokes absolutely qualifies as a huge bust, despite hanging around in the league for a few more years. Also, remember when Bill Romanowski spit in his face?
The 49ers released the 31-year-old Stokes during the ’03 offseason, and he was subsequently brought in by the Jaguars. Midway through the season, however, a chain reaction began which made Stokes a member of my New England Patriots. The Browns released wide receiver Kevin Johnson, and Johnson was claimed on waivers by the Jaguars. They then waived Stokes, who was almost immediately signed by New England.
In two games for the Pats during the 2003 season, Stokes caught two passes for 38 yards, including a 31-yard reception on a key third-quarter third and 8 against the Texans.
Stokes was released by New England after appearing in just two games, and he would never suit up for an NFL team again. But for two games in 2003, JJ Stokes was my favorite Patriot, and to this day remains one of my all-time favorite wide receivers. Young to Stokes!!