The tournament of tournaments has officially begun. In just a few short weeks we will see who reigns supreme in the land. We'll probably see who wins this basketball thing, too. But here is my 2016 Card Madness.
Round 1 Matchup: Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts
2015 Prestige # 18 Fred JacksonPlayer: 4 Fred Jackson is far from a star, but he gets points for being Buffalo's equivalent of Rasputin. How long did he stick around when everybody else was sticking a fork in him?
Design: 3 One of my favorite sets of 2015, has great full-bleed photography and an interesting design. It gets dinged a point for being just a little too busy, making the names hard to read sometimes. Plus the jersey number is pointless. It just adds to the distraction as is barely noticeable as a feature.
Photo: 3 Great action photo. Looks like he is in mid-juke. One point is lost for the helmet fading out.
Back: 2 Not the greatest back, and it has a recycled photo. It gives the player's rank in his major statistical category, which is cool.
2013 Topps Chrome #14 Reggie WaynePlayer: 5 An all-time great.
Design: 3 2013 is one of my least favorite Topps flagship designs of this decade. It looks like a weird attempt at ornate, but just looks like goofy wings to me. And the player name is too small. It's better in Chrome, so that saves a point for this card.
Photo: 4 What a great photo! Action shot of a great receiver making a catch while being defended by Eric Berry, who just happens to be a top safety in the league. At least, I assume he's making the catch. It's hard to say for sure.
Back: 2 Not a bad back, but it's imperfection to me is putting the player's Twitter handle on the card. I don't care! It's a weird peeve of mine that Topps has decided is a good idea.
Condition: 2 This card is slightly off-centered.
Final Score: Indianapolis 16, Buffalo 15
Round 1 Matchup: New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders
2013 Panini Prizm #73 Stephen HillPlayer: 1 Stephen Hill? Yawn.
Design: 3 2013 Prizm is a set I'm building. It's a cool, shiny set, but there's not much else to speak of. It's not offensive, but it's not astounding. I'm intrigued by the edges, which appear textured, but actually quite smooth. It's the most interesting design feature.
Photo: 2 It's an action shot, but it's too isolated to be remarkable.
Back: 3 The good: a blurb about Hill's work ethic, learning moves from Santonio Holmes. The bad: no college is listed. I love seeing the player's alma mater.
ENOR Pro Football Hall of Fame #144 Gene Upshaw
Player: 5 One of the greatest O-linemen of all-time.
Design: 1 I hate the design of this set. More than anything, it's the ugly gold border.
Photo: 3 It's a good action shot. I like the dirt flying and all over Upshaw. It's just a little too jumbled and it is more difficult to pick out the actual subject of the card.
Back: 2 The design is completely unattractive. The saving grace here is the meaty biography of a Hall of Famer.
Final Score: Oakland 14, New York 13
Round 1 Matchup: Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys
2006 Leaf Rookies & Stars #16 Keyshawn Johnson
Player: 4 Keyshawn is one of those guys I appreciated more as his career went on. I also had completely forgotten that he played for the Panthers.
Design: 1 Horrible design. The picture is dwarfed by the background, which seems to be the focus of the card. Those racing stripes waste an enormous amount of space.
Photo: 2 Not much going on here, folks.
Back: 1 More stripes.
1997 SPx #36 Deion Sanders
Player: 5 I never was a Deion fan, but I can't deny his talent or his impact on the game.
Design: 4 Can I give extra points? These first SPx sets were revolutionary and are still hard to beat. Good photography, die-cut, holographic. Awesome.
Photo: 3 Deion in coverage. Just doin' what he do.
Back: 3 The design genius just continues on the back. It's amazing to me how much information and good stats they fit on the back of a die-cut card with smaller space. And a new picture to boot! Have I mentioned I love this set?
Condition: 2 There are some smudges. Some of what you see is from the scanner. Some is all card.
Final Score: Dallas 17, Carolina 11
Round 1 Matchup: Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1991 ENOR Pro Football Hall of Fame #32 Willie Davis
Player: 5 Can't argue with the player. A Hall of Fame Packer from Lombardi's defense.
Photo: 1 Could they have chosen a worse photo? No pads, no team identifier. This could be a fan wearing a #87 jersey to a high school football game for all this picture shows.
Back: 2 Once again, a bad design is saved by the HoF info. I learned that Willie Davis was a military man and he never missed a game in 12 seasons.
Condition: 1 There's a nice crease on the left side of the card.
1995 Collector's Choice #12 Warren Sapp
Player: 5 Rookie of a Hall of Famer.
Design: 2 I'm a fan of Collector's Choice. I like the unique lettering of this particular set. However, the rookies in this set have the disadvantage of the ugly rookie logo in the bottom left. The colors scream 90s, don't they?
Photo: 2 Not a fan of this photo. It's like the company was trying to make Sapp look as dumb as possible. He looks utterly confused by whatever is going on.
Back: 2 I like the clear focus on the overall draft pick number. I like to know this about rookies, as I'm a bit obsessed with the draft. There's new photo, which is better than the front, and the original from the front almost becomes a watermark on the back. It's a nice effect.
Condition: 2 Nothing major, but the corners aren't the sharpest.
Extra: 1 The rookies are the first cards in the set, and they attempted to number according to draft position. Thus, Warren Sapp was the 12th overall pick and this card is #12. When I organize my sets, I separate the rookies out and put them in draft order. It preserves the history of the year's draft for me. This card gets a bonus point for doing it for me.
Final Score: Tampa Bay 14, Green Bay 10 Despite my Packers pulling a Hall of Fame guy, the quality of the card itself proved its downfall. I'm a bit disappointed that my team went down so early, but I'm going to play it straight, by the card.
Four more matchups will follow in a later post as the Madness continues.