Kenny Shedd was a standout wide receiver and track and field star at Davenport West High School in Davenport, IA.
The speedy WR starred at the University of Northern Iowa in the early 1990s where he earned All America honors in 1990, 1991, and 1992 as a wideout and a return specialist. Shedd was also named First Team All-Conference those three seasons and was also named UNI team MVP in 1991 and 1992. He was inducted into the UNI Hall of Fame in 2008.
Drafted in the fifth round in the 1993 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, he spent seven seasons in the NFL as a kick returner and wide receiver for five different teams including the New York Jets, Chicago Bears Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins.
Since his retirement from the NFL, Shedd graduated from the police academy and spent over two decades in law enforcement working in California including the San Leandro area. He hosts a podcast called K Shedd Uncuffed where he discusses his memorable time in the NFL and his law enforcement career.
In our recent conversation, Shedd spoke about his experience seeing his rookie card for the first time, upsetting fans by misnumbering his autograph, who he’d like to swap jerseys with and much more.
Tony Reid–You’ve had 11 football cards produced over the years. You appeared on a number in 1993 in the Classic line including an autograph version of your card. Your rookie card eventually came in 1997 Collectors Choice. What was the experience like when you first saw yourself on a card?
Kenny Shedd-The whole process was mind blowing. They sent you a box full of your rookie cards. They want you to sign them and send them back to them. You don’t know at the time because they give you a little bit of change, a few thousand dollars or whatever, which is big money to a college student. They do that and you’re not thinking that you are signing these cards and if you become the next Jerry Rice, they have a boatload of cards with your signature on it. It doesn’t appear to you until later on in the NFL but you want to get on that level and it becomes a personal goal to make your rookie card as valuable as possible.
I forgot all about those cards until a few fans came up to me and asked me to sign them. I said “That’s not me. That’s James Jett.” They said no, it was me. What? They put in front of my face, and it was the coolest looking image I had ever seen. It was me on my rookie card in my Raiders uniform. It blew me away. It is a very memorable moment for me.
I honestly forgot about those early Classic cards in 1993. It took me a three to four years to find my team in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders who finally activated me, and I was on the field playing.
TR-What has been your most memorable fan experience over the years?
KS-I have had many. I have had ones where fans come up and ask you to sign their cards. I had a variety of different cards and you kind of lose track. This one particular fan got mad at me because I signed it with the wrong number. It was my rookie card and I was different number at the time. I started to write the wrong number ad he was like “What are you doing? Stop! Stop!” I felt horrible for him, and I really wish I had another one to replace for him for the one I messed up. I thought I was signing my name and that was all that mattered but no, you have to do it a specific way when it comes to collectible sports cards, and I have a lot more respect now that I understand all of that.
TR–The autograph experience is very special for fans and players for different reasons. What has your personal experience been like signing for fans?
KS-Every person who plays in the NFL should go out of their way to sign as many autographs as possible. It really does make a difference. I after I was done playing, I was a police officer for 20-plus years. I went to a call where there was a kid who was distraught after a verbal argument with his mom. When I separated the two we went to his room so we could talk while my partner stayed in the kitchen with his mom. I go inside the room, and I look up and see a picture of me in my Raiders uniform ready to run a route on his wall. When I tell people that story, they can’t believe it. I swear to God. I can’t believe it either. He didn’t even really make the connection until my partner came in and said “That’s you!” It made everybody in the apartment happy, and it got the issues resolved. This kid really did find solace and pride and inspiration in the photo and even after that he would come and let me know how good he was doing.
TR–Did you keep any of your gear from your NFL career?
KS-I have my Raider helmet, my Raider shoulder pads, my Raider jerseys both the Silver and Black home uniform and the white as well. I had gloves but over the years they have been lost. I have game balls that were presented to me. They aren’t going anywhere. My wife has built this man cave and Raider cave for me but when we moved, we took it all down. We are waiting for the right time to put it all back up.
In the meantime, there have been autographed jerseys that I got from other players. I got one of Derek Carr. Me being the type of person that wants to give back, I donated that framed and signed jersey to a foundation in need of auction items to raise money for their cause. It never stops. You always have to give back to the community because our Raider Nation is what made me. Every time I have the chance to give back, I am going to take it.
TR–What players did you look to for inspiration as a young kid?
KS-Boomer Esiason was a guy who was bigger than life for me. This was when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals. As a youngster, he looked so powerful and commanding in that uniform. He is a big bodied quarterback anyway. He is a lefty which was kind of new at the time. His presence was fantastic.
It came full circle because I got to play with Boomer when I got picked up by the Jets. He was their starting quarterback. I got a chance to see my idol. The problem was I was spending too much time in awe of him instead of paying attention to the ball he just threw me that just hit me in the facemask. It takes a minute to get seasoned and say I am wearing a uniform, too. It’s time to start acting like a pro.
TR–What are your thoughts on the jersey swap phenomenon in pro sports today?
KS-My true opinion is if you are going to do the jersey swap it has to be done in a different way. I don’t agree with doing the jersey swaps right after the game. There is a time and a place for it. These two teams just got done battling each other and doing everything they can to take each other’s heads off. I think that is cool but maybe in the locker rooms. One person is limping over there and it hurts when they take their jerseys off.
To be honest with you I would have loved to swap jerseys with Ronnie Lott. To be able to have a Ronnie Lott jersey would be fantastic. I don’t know if he would have wanted mine but I would have given it to him and told him to hold onto it because I will make mine valuable someday and I still believe I am going to be able to do that.