Archive for football

I used to look forward to the Super Bowl

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When I was a kid, the Super Bowl was a big deal. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and the 49ers were dominant. And as I began to appreciate football for myself, I chose the Buffalo Bills as my favorite team. It’s hard to imagine why, right? Sure, they lost four straight Super Bowls but … they also MADE it to four straight Super Bowls.

Truth be told, much of what drew me there was eventual Hall of Famer Bruce Smith. I had a thing for defensive players. While everyone was fawning over QBs and RBs, defensive linemen and linebackers were my jam.

Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Reggie White, Ken Norton Jr. … these were my guys. And in a different era of the hobby — maybe like today — I would have collected their Cards because there would have been gorgeous cards of theirs to own, maybe even with their signature (even a cut for those who have passed away). But at the time they most only had base cards, and I never collected their cards the way I do Roger Clemens. Why? Because I was always afraid of collecting items that didn’t seemingly have some shot at appreciating. Remember, this was early 1990s when so much was placed on book value, and we still saw cards as “investments.”

I digress, football to be has become such an afterthought. Not just hobby wise — the market is so ass-backward if you ask me — but also in real life. The game just isn’t the same — although I readily admit things might be different if the Niners returned to some semblance of success again. While the Bills were my squad when they were good, it’s hard to cheer for a team on the other side of the country when as it turns out you were really excited about the players themselves, not really Buffalo as a franchise.

While football as a whole isn’t as important in my life or among my forms of entertainment, Super Bowl Sunday still has some mystique since it’s really a single event the world is watching. But I’d be a liar if I told you I go out of my way to watch. Heck, three out of the last four years I’ve been working during the Super Bowl — today included

The actual victor isn’t important to me. But in case you’re wondering I am hoping Tom Brady wins another Super Bowl and rides off into the sunset. I know a lot of folks have soured on him, but the story and the level of dominance is one the sports world has not seen since the days of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls; and those late 90s/early 00s New York Yankee club featuring a young Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

That said, what’s fun about the Super Bowl nowadays is that it marks the end of football and means we’re getting closer to the sport I love the most, baseball.

Tom Brady: A constant reminder I quit football cards too early

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 21, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Tom Brady is headed back to the Super Bowl, and sadly I’ve still got nothing to show for it.

No rookie cards. No autographs. No relics.

Just some basic Brady cards that managed to find their way into my collection.

You see, I made a decision around 2002 to stop regularly buying football cards. Like many, there was a time I collected cards of the four major sports. But by the time I was nearing the legal drinking age I was in college and tried to focus on my passion of baseball cards and tinker less with football.  In my mind I had already reached the peak of that segment of the hobby with a very successful 1998 – I managed to pull both Randy Moss and Fred Taylor from the same box of SP Authentic, and then hit both Dan Marino and Joe Montana autographs from the same box of SPX Finite that year. That success then caused me to have feelings of doubling down in 1999 with that massive quarterback class, most of whom washed out of the league within a few seasons.  And by year 2000 I decided Peter Warrick was the second coming of Randy Moss and Jerry Rice, and Chad Pennington was definitely the new Joe Namath. I think you see I failed miserably.

Opening the 2001 season, Tom Brady was still just a backup to Drew Bledsoe. His rookie cards were mere commons. Hell, I owned one – 2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond – and I let it sit in a penny sleeve among a bunch of defensive player rookie cards.

Well, by 2001 I had become so jaded by miserable purchases of 1999 and 2000 that I pretty much decided I was done with the football segment of the hobby.  I purchased less football in 2001, and even less by 2002. And in 2003 I sold it all – save for the Brady Black Diamond rookie because I had already unloaded it for like $15 the moment its status as non-common changed. (side note, the Brady is like a $300-$600 Card now, the one shown about is a PSA 9 on COMC.) You see, while I was the only person in my college Sports Psychology class at San Jose State University to actually pick the Patriots over the Rams during that year’s Super Bowl, I still didn’t quite buy the notion of Bledsoe permanently being unseated as the Patriots signal caller.

Well, I was wrong.

Bledsoe was done in New England and Brady was just getting started, ushering in a whole new generation of Patriots fans, and creating new standards by which we measured quarterbacks.

Because of the way I collected cards, I know that if I had stayed with football cards, I likely would have obtained multiple Tom Brady rookies at some point. Maybe not the Holy Grail Rookie Contenders autograph, but I still would have had many, especially that 2000 Bowman Chrome card, which to me seems like a must-own for hobbyists.

Alas, here I am some 15-plus years later reminiscing about what could have been — the prices of his standard rookie cards are insane — and the only thing I have to show for it is a blog post about a card I used to own.

 

Saying goodbye to another grandfather …

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve kind of been kicking this around for the last day or so, trying to sort my feelings. Over the weekend I learned that another one of my grandfathers had passed away. This is third in about eight months. He was the last of the grandfathers in my life.

Grandpa Jerry and I were never close, but that’s not to say I didn’t care. I just never really knew how to breakdown the perceived wall. And if you know me, I’m not exactly the out-going talkative type anyway so this wasn’t a situation ripe with conversation.

There were two rules I lived by when we visited him and grandma in their Fairfield (California) home back in the day: 1) Make sure you say hello to the grandparents before settling in, and 2) DO NOT sit in grandpas chair. The latter was something I deemed as a sign of respect. No one had told me not to sit there, I just assumed that as the Man of the House, he had claimed that one spot — THAT ONE — as his. And unless he offered it to someone else, the seat shall remain empty so that he could sit there when he returned from his nap, his watering of the grass, his trip to the store to buy Lottery tickets, or whatever. Besides, it was grandma’s house. She had like three couches — including a massive sectional — in the converted garage that acted as a giant living room and addition to the home. There was no reason to take HIS spot.

There were times we often were left alone in the room and it was awkward a bit, reasons stemming from our mutual lack of talking. But we often watched sports together during the holidays, especially football. Collegiate or professional, Grandpa Jerry loved to watch. At times he sat there silent, then he’d make a quiet sucking-of-teeth noise when he grew disappointed in a play. And then the word “shit” would be said in a long, drawn out way almost the way you’d imagine John Wayne saying it.

If you knew me as a kid, I always had some baseball cards with me, not unlike the way kids these days take their electronics with them. I’d often flip through the same stack of cards, memorizing stats and details and from time to time Grandpa Jerry would peer over and ask what it was that I was looking at. We never shared a lot of talk about collectibles. I secretly hoped that one day he would tell me about his stash of cards from his youth, or tell me a story about sports and cards. But no such conversation came up. The closest I think we ever got to that was him telling me that he had collected a lot of the first two years of the Kenner Starting Line-Ups, which would have been 1988/1989 or so. I forget the exact the circumstances that would have lead to him buying them, but I think it had something to do with him being some sort of retail deliveryman/merchandiser.My contribution to the conversation was that those toys had gained some value at the time.

I can’t say that I knew a lot about the man, which in hind sight is kind of sad. I had’t seen Grandpa Jerry in about 15 years, ever since he and grandpa packed up their California home and moved to North Carolina, a place I’d never visited. I have a Polaroid picture I took with Grandma and Grandpa in front of their home just before I bid them farewell in 2003, but I’m not entirely sure where it it at the moment.

But as I sit here working through these emotions, there are three distinct items for which I shall remember Grandpa. 1) A trucker-style University of Kentucky hat that hung on the wall just inside the front door. I’m not sure I’d ever seen him wear it, but it was always there. I’m somewhat recalling that he may have been from Kentucky. 2) His powder blue 1980s Chevrolet Silverado that had a scene of horses galloping through an open field emblazoned like a window tint for the cab window. I’d gone with him once or twice to buy lottery tickets in the truck and I recall thinking how different it felt to ride in a truck instead of a sedan. And 3) The round silver ashtray that sat on the table next to his recliner. Grandpa was a smoker. There was no doubt about that. Thinking about that ash tray reminds me of a time, shortly before he and grandma moved, when I saw two of my grandfathers — old US Air Force buddies who wound up foes for a long while and then were seemingly on good terms before the departure to the east coast — and my uncle Frank sharing coffee, conversation and cigarettes together on the driveway. It was an odd sight at the time but I recall making a conscious effort to remember that moment and take a snapshot in my mind. All three of them have since passed away, all within the last 18 months or so.

It’s a really weird feeling to go all through childhood without really having to deal with death in the family, and then suddenly get slammed with a series of deaths as we get older. It’s not something we have control over, and each time I am reminded of it. And every time we say goodbye to a loved one, I think about my time with my kids and what messages I want to convey and experiences I want to share with them.

I’m not much of a talker; I chose writing as my preferred method of communication. If you were to ask me about Grandpa Jerry I might not have verbalized any of this. But if you’re still reading at this point, I thank you got taking the time. It means a lot.

Thrift Treasures 98: Sweetness and the Snake

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I haven’t had much time to write lately.  We had a death in the family the same day I wrote my Wally Pipp post, and since then every day has been a little hectic. 

Nonetheless here I am writing a new a Thrift Treasures trying to get back to some normalcy.

Friday night after work I poppedinto a thrift store and saw dozens of bags filled with cards.

  
What’s funny is that almost every card in the bags were protected with penny sleeves or a poor quality early rendition of a Top Loader.

I peeked at a few of the bags and could clearly see that they weren’t worth the $3.99 each that the store was asking. I’m talking stuff from 1988-1992, basic commons and stuff. Heck, one bag even had this 1990 Fleer Tim McIntosh card with a 12 cent price tag on it.  I used to do this to my cards them too, but o wasn’t going to pay for that memory.

  
I checked each bag for any semblance of hope. And then Sweetness appeared.  

This is a second-year 1977 Walter Payton card showing on the bag And I could see a few other older football cards.  I decided that even though the Payton was in poor condition, it was worth the purchase.

Well, as it turned out the football cards and one hockey card are we’re the only things worth writing about.  The bag was filled with baseball commons as mentioned above. 

But here are the “hits.”

1977 Topps Walter Payton  

1977 Topps Fred Biletnikoff  

1976 Topps Ken Stabler  

Four 1977 Topps cards including Oakland Raiders center Dave Dalbu and linebacker Phil Villapiano, Chicago Bears defensive tackle Wally Chambers, and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall.

  
And the stray hockey card, a 2003-04 OPC Dick Tarnstrom parallel #’d /500

  
Total cost of these Treasures: $3.99

You can read more Thrift Treasures posts here.

A 20-year-old NFL retail break 

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

A few months ago a co-worker brought me a gift, a four-pack blister of 1995 Upper Deck football that had a commemorative Joe Montana Super Bowl card.  

This co-worker is a big San Francisco 49ers fan and at one point he bought this for his man cave. He’s not really a card guy, but more of a game-used 49ers jersey collector.  So he decided to gift this blister to me.

I opened a good amount of this product in 1995, as we as the SP brand, which was high-end at the time and was one of the first sets I completed.

I digress.  Yesterday during my lunch break I stopped by my locker and noticed that I still had this thing sitting on my top shelf.  With the NFL kicking off this week I decided to open it for fun.  There really are no hits in here, just base cards, parallels and the occasional insert. 

So, the Montana C-card was cool.  It shows Montana and the 49ers against the Miami Dolphins jn Super Bowl XIX, which is the last Super Bowl to be held in the San Francisco Bay Area. that Super Bowl was held at Stanford University in Palo Alro. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl and will again be in the Bay Area.

 
And now for the packs.

The first pack had a card that literally made me laugh out loud.  I mean check out this seductive rookie card of former Jets draft pick Kyle Brady.

   
 
Pack two wasn’t quite as awesome, but it had a card if one of the newest Hall of Famers, Charles Haley, and a good-looking rookie card of Michael Westbrook. Oh, and it had TWO silver parallels. Money!  

 
Pack three  features a rookie card of a very good linebacker from the late 1990s and early 2000s, one Derrick Brooks.

   
And the final pack featured a dud rookie QB card, but the last card in the pack was none other than hall of fame 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice. Heck, my co-worker might even have this Rice jersey shown on this card.  

 Al, if you’re reading this, the Niner cards are all yours if you want them back. That Kyle Brady card is mine though. It’s priceless.

Thrift Treasures 87: Starting LineUp cards galore, including Jordan (SLUs!)

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

  
When I was a kid, we didn’t have highly detailed McFarlane toys for athletes. Instead, we had Starting LineUps, made by Kenner.
For a while these toys were hot. They were first produced in 1988, and I believe they ran until 2000, at which time the aforementioned McFarlane line had entered the scene.

The Kenner toys weren’t detailed, but the faces sort of looked like the players, and if nothing else the uniforms at least helped us figure out who the figure depicted.

One of the cool things about Starting LineUps, or SLUs, was the fact that they came with at least one card, and sometimes a second card, a coin, or a poster. I liked the figures but I always wanted the cards, because when it gets down to it, I’m a card guy. 

While I never personally opened my SLUs when they were sealed — I hung them on the wall — I always traded for the cards when people made them available.

So, imagine the giddiness that came over me this week when I hit a thrift store and saw this.

  
I asked to see the box up close and could see that it was full of SLU cards.

I then peaked at another box and saw that it, too, had more SLU cards.

  
I busted into the boxes and stopped immediately when I saw the 1988 Statting LineUp card shown above.  It was in the first stack I grabbed.  The Jordan hails from the very first basketball release for this set.  Crazy to think that this card would be found in the wild like this.  Sure, it’s not mint. And true, it’s not worth big money, but this is not a card you should find in a thrift store.

While there was not another Jordan SLU card in the box, I did find many stars and in all nearly 250 SLU cards, most of which are basketball.

  
It’s worth noting that the Tim Duncan shown here is a rookie-year card release. 

I can’t possibly show all of the cards, but here are a few more

  
  
  
  
Additionally, there were 17 posters.

  
 

Total cost of these treasures: $17.98

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

Thrift Treasures 86: 6 Hits and more for a buck

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on May 17, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

For about a year, one of the thrift stores that I frequent has had thousands of cards sitting around for the price of 20/$1. Sadly, most of them were straight up commons from 1989 Fleer, 1989 Upper Deck and a few other sets from the same time frame. The boxes had been picked clean of anything worth owning.

Well, when I walked in this week, those boxes were gone and in its place was a single smaller box of cards, which had just arrived. Judging from the contents, I had to have been the first one to get a crack at them.

Most of the box consisted of Jacksonville Jaguar cards, mostly Mark Brunnel and Fred Taylor, but there were some other stragglers that made this a fun box to pillage. In all, I chose 20 cards and spent a whopping $1. And as the title of this post suggests, six of these 20 cards were hits — relics and or autographs. While they aren’t going to net me a fortune or anything, that’s still a huge win for being a thrift find.

And to the guy who walked in behind me and started rifling through the cards clearly in search of something worth owning, all I can say is: better luck next time.

Without further adieu, here is the haul:

Eight of the cards were relatively basic. But I figured I may as well fill out the 20-card order with whatever base cards or parallels seemed worthy of a nickel.

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Here’s a pair of 2000 Ultimate Victory Football Parallel rookie cards.  Deltha O’Neal is a local guy so it was a decent pick up.  Besides, the two top loaders were worth a nickel on their own.

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A few inserts and a Matt Holliday were a fun addition at this price

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In 1999, numbered parallels were still in demand by collectors.  Here’s a Dan Marino 1999 Encore F/X “Seize The Game” Gold parallel numbered 063/250

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And not the hits.  Like I said earlier, these aren’t going to break the bank, but consider that they cost a nickle each.

Speaking of nickels, here a 1998 Edge Ryan Leaf Draft Special featuring a swatch of Leaf’s jersey, which is the size of … a nickel.

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Remember Shaun King?  For a minute he was a legit NFL quarterback.  Here is a 2000 UD Ovation cards featuring a piece of his helmet.  This may be the first helmet swatch I have ever owned.

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Game-used cards were in full effect in 2000. Playoff, former known as Donruss.Leaf, Playoff 9DLP0 made some of the coolest ones.  Here is a Absolute Leather and Laces card featuring a swatch of ball used ont he Dec. 19, 1999 game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans.  Phenom Jevon Kearse is shown on this card, which is serial numbered to 250 copies.

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Playoff made lots of game-used items in the late 1990s. Among them were these weird team checklist cards which featured TWO swatches of jersey, neither of which were attributed to any particular player. Bad idea …

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After I went through the box and fished out what I thought was every decent cards, I did one more search and stick — literally — in the middle of a stack of 2000 Victory commons was this 1998 Skybox Autographics auto of Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala, former of the Uniiversity of Utah, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Say that name three times fast.

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And the last card if perhaps my favorite.  After the St. Louis Rams wont he Super Bowl in 1999, Upper Deck made championship relic cards and inserted them into packs of 2000 Ultimate Victory.  They were gorgeous cards then and even now, a decade and a half later, they’re still great-looking examples of relic cards done right.

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Total cost of these treasures: $1

To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE