Every day a new disaster happens to my favorite team at Flowery Branch and it's gotten so bad it's turned me off this year's new shiny football cards. Thank goodness for old crappy football cards! While I couldn't care less about the '07 Bowman that just hit the shelves, I'm loving the old Topps packs I'm opening every Sunday over at A Pack A Day. I just snagged a few '88 Topps Cello packs, yahoo!
While the new cards remind me only of pain and idiot coaches and pit bulls and imploding franchises, old football cards are soothing reminders of better days. Geez, you know your team is in horrible trouble when you think wistfully about the Falcons teams of the 1980's. I still wish David Archer would just suit up already. He's probably too smart for that though, he's been watching that offensive line every week doing analysis on the radio broadcast.
I went to the local fleamarket recently and checked out the shop run by the old guy who sells baseball cards and porn. This is one of the old school collectors, he bought every pack he could find in the 50's and then started buying collections off old grannys. When you hear stories about people whose mom threw out their cards, she probably actually sold them to this guy and didn't want to share the profits. He's got an insane collection of vintage stuff in the shop rivaled only by his stash of old Playboys and other assorted smut. Thanks to the internet I can focus on buying his cards. One thing I got while I was there was this brick of 50 football cards for a buck. He had a box full of these things and another one with baseball bricks. I couldn't resist this pack with the beat up 1978 Art Shell on the front. Here's what I got for a buck:
1978 Topps Art Shell #460
1985 Topps Larry Moriarty #252
1985 Topps Rick Karlis #244
1988 Topps Tommy Kramer #148
1986 Topps Philadelphia Eagles #268
1972 Topps Bo Scott Pro Action #123
There was unfortunately only 6 vintage Topps cards in the brick , but the ones I got were worth it. The Shell card is a thing of beauty. That is what a football card should look like. The '85 Topps football design is really underrated. The black borders, the bold name, even the understated TOPPS logo in the top corner. It's a nice looking set as far as I'm concerned. My aunt is from Minnesota and I can't see a card of Kramer without hearing her say, "Tommy Kramer, that DRUNK?" Ron Jaworski surveys the scene on the Eagles' team card from 1986. Ron is picking apart my Falcons presumably in their week ten overtime win against them. I need to reevaluate my previously positive view of Jaws now, especially after he threw Alge Cumpler under the bus in the Monday Night broadcast. Dammit, this pack was supposed to help me forget! The card is priced at 50 cents so that's half the pack right there. The last Topps card is absolutely wonderful. A dirty Filthy Bo Scott breaking a tackle from a dirty filthy Baltimore Colt on a beat up, dog eared crinkled up old card that may very well have been in Bo's pocket during this play, time-space paradox be damned. There's even a Test Your Football IQ quiz on the back. May an ineligible receiver go downfield? (answer at bottom)
1991 UpperDeck Mark Carrier #434
1992 UpperDeck Pierce Holt #250
1991 UpperDeck Dan Saleaumua #196
1991 UpperDeck Ferrell Edmunds #291
1991 UpperDeck Reggie Roby #272
1991 UpperDeck Christian Okoye #176
1991 UpperDeck Rod Bernstine #118
1991 UpperDeck Lee Williams #341
1991 UpperDeck Joe Kelly #509
Next up in the pack is a handful of Upper Deck cards. The Pierce Holt card has some crusty disgusting junk on it and went straight into the trash. Considering that dude's other inventory I'm not taking any chances. The rest of the Upper Deck cards are ok. The '91 set is actually a pretty good set, although it's worth bupkis. The design is attractive and colorful, the photos are terrific and it's got a really good checklist. Too bad it was printed more than the Bible. The Christian Okoye card is pretty remarkable but it's nothing compared to the Bernstine. Rod is doing somersaults on the front and back of that one. It's no Bo Scott, but a pretty damn worthy football card nonetheless.
1994 Pinnacle Carlton Bailey Trophy Collection #39.
An oddball insert got thrown into this pack, a Trophy Collection dufex parallel of Carlton Bailey. These dufex cards are pretty and shiny and incredibly fragile, but this one seems to be not that badly beaten up. Pretty nice looking and a neat Extreeeeeeeeeme Close-Up shot.
1996 Finest Gus Frerotte Playmakers #192 P87
1996 Finest Marvcus Patton Destroyers #337 D72
1996 Finest Rocket Ismail Playmakers #322 P111
1996 Finest Aeneas Williams Destroyers #317 D75
1996 Finest Carlton Gray Destroyers #333 D87
1996 Finest Lawrence Phillips Freshman #314 FM14
1996 Finest Adrian Murrell Playmakers #342 P109
1996 Finest Greg Hill Playmakers #297 P114
1996 Finest Alonzo Spellman Destroyers #279 D103
1996 Finest Brian Dawkins Freshman #344 FM26
1996 Finest Curtis Conway Playmakers #233 P77
1996 Finest Ray Mickens Freshman #330 FM31
Next up is a bunch of 1996 Finest. This set is a good summation of a lot of bad things that were going on in the mid-90's. First, you'll notice that the borders are all bronze. This is because there was a rash of Bronze-Silver-Gold themes in cards sets at this time, presumably to honor (cash in) on the Atlanta Olympics. Unfortunately the silver and gold cards were almost universally short printed, so now it looks like there were just a bunch of sets with bronze borders. The set is divided up into subsets: Playmakers for offensive players, Destroyers for the defense and Freshman for rookies. There might be more subsets but I'm too lazy to look it up right now. This hits both the "lets break the big set into little sets to collect" and the "hey, inserts are popular - lets make the whole set look like inserts!" trends that spread like a fungus through sets of the 90's. It wouldn't be so bad if chase card didn't become a euphemism for gaudy crap somewhere along the line. The Finest Protector things that no one knows whether they should peel them off or not are also pretty annoying.
I had to look up his stats on CBS Sportsline before I would believe that Gus Frerotte is still playing. Then again Vinnie is still around too, so why not. Not much here, a lot of decent players but nothing special. Rocket Ismail was an ok receiver that didn't live up to the hype. The Carlton Gray card is inadvertently humorous. "surprise, buttsecks!" Curtis Conway was a nice wide receiver pickup on my fantasy team one year. The Brian Dawkins rookie card is probably the best out of the bunch.
1980 Fleer Baltimore Colts #4
1980 Fleer Baltimore Colts #3
1980 Fleer Atlanta Falcons #2
1979 Fleer Cleveland Browns #11
1979 Fleer New Orleans Saints #34
1979 Fleer Baltimore Colts #3
1980 Fleer San Diego Chargers #47
1980 Fleer Green Bay Packers #20
1980 Fleer Houston Oilers #22
1980 Fleer Cleveland Browns #11
1980 Fleer Miami Dolphins #27
1982 Fleer Oakland Raiders #40
1979 Fleer Green Bay Packers #19
1979 Fleer Baltimore Colts #4
1981 Fleer Flat Out #78
1981 Fleer Green Bay Packers #20
1981 Fleer New York Giants #35
1979 Fleer Super Bowl VII #63
1979 Fleer Houston Oilers #21
1979 Fleer Pittsburgh Steelers #43
1979 Fleer Super Bowl IX #65
1980 Fleer San Diego Chargers #47
1981 Fleer Miami Dolphins #28
1979 Fleer Super Bowl XI #67
1979 Fleer Super Bowl III #59
Finally, the last half of the brick is cards from Fleer's Action Football sets. Fleer apparently had an NFL license, but not a player's association license so they put out football cards from 1976-1988 featuring action shots from NFL teams. Along with the cards you got logo stickers and actual gum in the packs. The monopoly Topps had on gum didn't carry over to bootleg football packs. Probably 99.99999% of all humans on earth don't care a whit about these cards. I can't find them in a price guide to save my life. I love the hell out of them though. These goofy things were the very first football cards I ever got (1981 packs from the corner Majik Market) and I'll take more of 'em anytime.
I mostly got cards from 79 and 80, but there's a handful from 81 and 82. The cards changed a lot from 1980 to 1981. The older cards are on gray cardboard stock and only have a brief write up on the back. '81 and later cards are on white stock and feature team stats. Each team got two cards, one for offense and one for defense. Fleer padded out the sets with Super Bowl Cards and quiz cards. One of these days I'm going to go nuts and complete my collection of all these oddball Fleer sets, but it hasn't happened quite yet.
I didn't get any logo stickers which kind of sucks, but the cards are still cool. I got one of the Falcons defense where the Grits Blitz is beating up on some hapless Redskin. The '82 Raiders card looks like the game is being played at a high school stadium. Eagle eyed collectors can find star players on these cards as long as they know everyone's jersey number. The Super Bowl IX card features Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris prominently. Brian Sipe and Joe Washington can be found on the Browns and Colts cards. The gem of the pack is the '79 Oilers card that has #34 Earl Campbell about to bust through a hole. Not bad for a buck!
Here's the answer to the quiz from that Bo Scott card: