Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Annual Obligatory Basketball Break: 2014-15 Totally Certified

I don't collect very much basketball.  About once a year, I rip a box just for kicks, but it doesn't excite me too much.  Living where I do, I feel like I have to have some basketball, though.  Utah is a basketball state, and I could always use something to draw people to my table at the card show.  On my last Dave and Adam's purchase, I found a box of Totally Certified for about $30, and I thought with a hit per pack, it was worth a go.  Plus, I don't have a Jabari Parker rookie yet, and Andrew Wiggins would be a good draw.  All in all, I have to say that this box didn't disappoint and I definitely feel like I got my money's worth.

First, the base cards.

Not too shabby.  I do wonder what the swirly design in the background is; it sort of reminds me of the the mid-90s Fleer Metal cards. All of these except for the Durant are available for trade, if anybody wants them.

There is a parallel in each pack, and this is where I pulled my first Parker.  Platinum red parallel numbered to 279.  The Tayshaun Prince is also numbered to 279, Gary Harris to 135, and the DeAndre Jordan is a shorter print, to 49.  The 3 parallels aside from Jabari are available.

I pulled one insert, and it was a great one.  Great American Heroes John Stockton.  I don't PC the guy, but I know a lot of people around me who do.  And even if I can't find it a home near me, Stockton is definitely not someone I mind having around.

And the hits.

The first was a purple die-cut jersey of David Lee, numbered to 99.

Then came two Clear Cut Cloth relics of Vince Carter and Rajon Rondo.  Both are numbered to 299.  Carter is one of my few basketball PCs, so I'm happy here.

The auto is an oldie of George Karl in his playing days.  I can't say that I know much about his time before coaching, so this card surprised me a little.  This one is another shorter print with a print run of 49.

All of the hits minus Vince Carter are available.

I like what I got out of this box.  None of the hits were scrubs or no-namers.  I pulled a PC guy, a Stockton insert, and a Jabari Parker, which is what I was kind of hoping for anyway.  I'll take it any day.  Everything except for Durant, Parker, Stockton, and Carter is available for trade.

I ordered 2 other boxes from Dave and Adam's, and I'll post those up as soon as I can.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Card Madness 2016, Pt. 7

And here we are at the Elite 8.  This post will take us to our Final Four Card Madness participants.  Speaking of Final Four, do I get some kind of credit for picking the exact reverse of the Final Four in college basketball bracket?  I had all four #1 seeds in my Elite 8, and I had all of them advancing to the Final Four except North Carolina.  And then the weekend happened, and they all lost--except North Carolina.  Obviously, my Spidey sense was tingling, but I misunderstood it, I guess.

Anyway, on to the Elite 8 matchups here.  Here is a link to the bracket, so you can see the progress.  And here are the matchups:
  • Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Houston Texans vs. Oakland Raiders
  • Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
  • Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Almost every AFC South team made it this far, despite the fact that probably none of them deserved to make the real NFL playoffs last year.  Minnesota is the highest overall seed, and that sickens me, a die-hard Packers fan.  Oh well.  It just goes to show, you never can tell what's in the cards.

Round 3 Matchup: Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

2012 Topps #14 T.Y. Hilton

Player: 4 Very talented receiver, should be a star in the league soon enough.
Design: 3 Maybe I'm just partial to it because it's the first I collected when I got back into the hobby a few years back, but I like design on the bottom with the team logo in the middle. As is usually the case with flagship Topps, the name could stand to be a bit bigger.
Photo: 2
Back: 3
Condition: 3

2008 Upper Deck Star Quest Rainbow Red #SQ14 Fred Taylor

Player: 4 Fred Taylor never did get the recognition he deserved, probably because he always seemed to be injured.  But I look at his career and think, "What would it have looked like if he had stayed healthy?"  The guy rushed for almost 12,000 yards and only played two complete seasons.  The 4.6 yards per carry is incredible over a 13-year career.
Design: 4 I like these Star Quest cards, and the red parallel is even better.  For some reason, the red contrasts beautifully with teal of Jacksonville, plus Taylor in black pants makes for a great color combo.  The swooshing X in the background is great, too.
Photo: 3
Back: 3 The colors are great on the back, too, and the X shape continues to the side of the blurb.  Excellent look.
Condition: 3

Final Score: Jacksonville 17, Indianapolis 15

Round 3 Matchup: Houston Texans vs. Oakland Raiders

2014 Topps #356 Jadaveon Clowney

Player: 3 He should probably be lower, based off of actual NFL production, but I still remember Clowney crushing that Michigan running back.  I'm waiting for that beast to make an appearance at the pro level.
Design: 3
Photo: 2 This picture baffles me.  What exactly is going on here?  My guess is tip drill, but it's an odd choice for the guy's rookie card.
Back: 2
Condition: 3

2014 SAGE Hit #144 Derek Carr

Player: 4 Carr has fared quite a bit better than his 2014 classmate, Clowney.  In this pairing of last year's rookies, Carr has shown himself to be the superior player.  A good draft for quarterbacks in all, but Carr has huge potential.
Design: 2 It tries to be really cool, but it just doesn't work.  Part of the problem is logo being photoshopped out.  The green is too overwhelming; it feels like a solid color. But wouldn't the throwing picture be better as the feature and the helmetless portrait the smaller inset?
Photo: 3 See above.
Back: 3 The green works better as the back of the card than an all-green front.
Condition: 3

Final Score: Oakland 15, Houston 13

Round 3 Matchup: Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings

2012 Prestige Connections #2 Matthew Stafford/Calvin Johnson

Player: 4 Calvin Johnson deserves a 5.  Matthew Stafford, not so much.  At least they're on the same team.  It drives me crazy when two-player cards are from different teams.  How am I supposed to categorize that?  I need to categorize that!

Design: 3 It's simple, but it works.  There is some white space that could be trimmed to make more room for bigger photos.
Photo: 3 Two good action shots.
Back: 2 It's upside-down.  Maybe it's just me, but I always put my horizontal cards so the bottom faces to the right.  But then this card is upside-down.  Am I in the wrong here?
Condition: 3

2008 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia #84 Adrian Peterson

Player: 5 Three rounds, three Adrian Peterson cards.  I swear I actually have other Viking cards.
Design: 4 Nice looking design.  Gold foil without overdoing it.  Good use of team colors.
Photo: 3
Back: 2 It doesn't even mention his rookie year?  The guy who won ROY and Pro Bowl MVP honors as a rookie.  It gives an interesting fact about his Heisman finish as a true freshman, but it seems odd that a historic rookie season gets no mention on a 2nd year NFL card.
Condition: 3

Final Score: Minnesota 17, Detroit 15

Round 3 Matchup: Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2007 Bowman #250 Laurent Robinson

Player: 2 Not much to see here.
Design: 2 Too much border takes up the card.  I don't like the horizontal lines within the border.  And the cursive font is difficult to read.
Photo: 2 It appears to be an in-game photo.  That's all I have.
Back: 2 Some good info, but the back feels too crowded.
Condition: 2 A couple of corners are slightly rounding, but not horribly so.

2012 Panini Momentum #175 Mark Barron

Player: 2 Not a strong player matchup in this round.  Barron hasn't lived up to his high draft status.
Design: 4 Love this design.  The subtle checks in the background, the team name up the right side.  Simple black and gray-scale.  This is a high-end card.
Photo: 3 Not a bad practice action shot.
Back: 3 There's a new picture, a short bio, and another high-end interesting design.
Condition: 2 One corner isn't as sharp as it could be.
Extra: 1 Autograph.  That's worth something.  And it's serial numbered to 399.

Final Score: Tampa Bay 15, Atlanta 10

So we are moving on the to the Final Four with the Jaguars, Raiders, Vikings, and Buccaneers.  Stay tuned for the next installment.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Card Madness 2016, Pt. 6

Round 2 Matchup: Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts












2014 Topps Valor #87 Cody Latimer

Player: 1 8 catches for 82 yards in two years.
Design: 4
Photo: 3 He looks like he means business with his head down as he runs.
Back: 2
Condition: 3


2014 Panini Contender Rookie Ticket Jersey #16 Donte Moncrief

Player: 3 Has the potential to be a solid #2 receiver.
Design: 4
Photo:2 I really don't like the stare into the camera.
Back: 2
Condition: 3
Extra: 1 Extra point for the relic.

Final Score: Indianapolis 15, Denver 13

Round 2 Matchup: San Diego Chargers vs. Houston Texans

1992 Fleer #365 Eric Moten

For the second round in a row, the Chargers have junk wax representation.
Player: 2 Started for Chargers for six years, then was done.  I don't know why his career ended, but he didn't play for another team. 
Design: 3 I'm a fan of Fleer.  The NFL shield with the helmet adds a bit of class to a cheaper brand.  It's a clean, classic, unassuming look.
Photo: 3 I love trench battles.  Lower pads win; I think Moten got this round.
Back: 2
Condition: 2

2015 Topps #445 Jaelen Strong

Player: 3 A 2nd round pick, Strong was fairly productive as a rookie.  Three TDs in only 11 receptions.
Design: 2 Just another 2015 Topps.  I didn't realize I had so much of this stuff.  I don't remember buying it.
Photo: 3 I like the action in this practice field shot.  It looks like a catch that's more difficult than the run-of-the-mill catch.
Back: 2
Condition: 3

Final Score: Houston 13, San Diego 12

Round 2 Matchup: New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings


































2011 Panini Threads #98 Eli Manning

Player: 4 I'm probably a bigger Eli fan than I should be.  I mean, you can't spell "elite" without "Eli," right?  Right?
Design: 2 I like the fabric texture ribbon on the side.  I don't like horizontal cards.  I really don't like the teeny Giants logo floating off in space, all alone in the corner.
Photo: 2 The picture of Eli is too small.  There is far more background than player here.  In this case, the card was horizontal for the sake of being horizontal, and this one should be vertical.
Back: 2 If I had this set in a binder, I would display them backwards.  The picture is the same, and the design works better on the back.  Do you see what I mean above?  However, the back isn't perfect.  There's not a whole of player info there. 
Condition: 3

2014 Finest Fantasy's Finest #FF-AP Adrian Peterson

Player: 5 Another Vikings card, another Adrian Peterson.  That's two rounds in a row.
Design: 3 Once again, I'm not a fan of the horizontal.  I like fantasy football, and I get that Topps is trying to reach a certain demographic, but they sure have been chasing a fantasy theme for the past few years.
Photo: 3 Grass stains.  As it should be.
Back: 2
Condition: 2 There is a slight scratch on the surface.

Final Score: Minnesota 15, New York 13

Round 2 Matchup:  San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

2015 Prestige Extra Points Green #226 DeAndrew White

Player: 1 Undrafted free agent caught 2 balls for 18 yards last year.
Design: 3 I like this year's Prestige.  I love the green parallel.  I hate the green paired with Alabama crimson and 49er red.
Photo: 3 Is he going into the end zone here?  I think so, and I like the action.
Back: 2
Condition: 3

2013 Topps Prime #32 Jacquizz Rodgers

Player: 2 I liked Quizz in college, and I really rooted for him to do more in the pros.  Plus, his name is Jacquizz!  Pretty cool.
Design: 4 Once again, I am a Topps Prime fan.  I never have collected much of it, but I certainly like having the cards I do have.
Photo: 4 Great action shot. 
Back: 2
Condition: 3
Extra: 1 The card number matches the jersey number.

Final Score: Atlanta 16, San Francisco 12

That will wrap up Round 2.  We'll try to narrow the field to the Elite 8 before the weekend's out.  Thanks for reading!

Giveaway at Sports Card Collectors

Hey, everybody!  This little interruption is to let you know that there is a monster giveaway at the Sports Card Collectors blog.  It is one of my favorite reads and--though I'd be willing to bet almost anybody reading this is a regular there--I would recommend checking it out.

The next Card Madness post is coming shortly.

Card Madness 2016, Pt. 5

Let's get ready for Round 2!  We are down to 16 teams in this year's edition of Card Madness.  Our "Sweet 16" Round is
  • Denver vs. Indianapolis
  • Jacksonville vs. Baltimore
  • New England vs. Oakland
  • San Diego vs. Houston
  • Dallas vs. Detroit
  • New York Giants vs. Minnesota
  • San Francisco vs. Atlanta
  • Tampa Bay vs. Washington
The full bracket can be accessed here.

Round 2 Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Baltimore Ravens

2012 Topps Prime #70 Justin Blackmon

Player: 1 Blackmon looked like a player--for awhile.  Now he looks like a guy who blew his chance.  Still suspended by the NFL, with little hope of coming back.
Design: 3 Topps Prime is one of my favorite each year.  It's like football's Stadium Club--trademarked by a simple design and focused on high-quality photography.
Photo: 3 It's clear.  It's colorful.  Just add some real action and it's a perfect score.
Back: 2 I like the way Prime captures a moment of highlights for the player.  It's a nice touch.
Condition: 3

2015 Topps #266 Terrence MaGee

Player: 1 As a rookie, MaGee rushed twice for 5 yards.
Design: 2 It's a circuit board.  That's what this design reminds me of.  Add in the paper-thin cardstock, and I'm not impressed with this year's Topps.
Photo: 2 As I wasn't too familiar with the player, it would have been nice to see him in a pose that made his position a little clearer.  I actually thought he was a corner, for some reason.
Back: 2
Condition: 3

Final Score: Jacksonville 12, Baltimore 10

Round 2 Matchup: New England Patriots vs. Oakland Raiders

2013 Topps Strata #6 Danny Amendola

Player: 2 I think Amendola is good, but not great.  I get the feeling that people think the Pats can plug him in, like Welker to Edelman to Amendola would be seamless.  I think Amendola is inferior to the first two.
Design: 3
Photo: 2 Is it just me, or does his left arm look weird in the tricep area?  It almost appears that Topps cut his arm off.
Back: 2
Condition: 3

 1991 Pro Set #545 Ethan Horton

Player: 1 Not much to say about him.  He did manage to stick around in the league for awhile.
Design: 2 It's clean, simple, and features full-bleed photography.  But it just looks so cheap.  Not that I've ever had a problem with that, of course.
Photo: 4 Awesome photo of the guy finding the end zone.  By the way, if you want to see some cool football card photos, check out some of Horton's other cards.  From his cards alone, you would think he was a human highlight reel.
Back: 3
Condition: 3

Final Score: Oakland 13, New England 12
Got to say, I really wouldn't have guessed this outcome before breaking down the scores.  But I love the arms in the air celebration.

Round 2 Matchup: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions

2015 Prestige #204 Antwan Goodley

Player: 1 Recorded zero stats as an undrafted rookie.  He has signed with Seattle, but I don't know if he's on the active roster or not.
Design: 4 As I mentioned before, I'm a fan of this set.  But really, really love the college photos with the NFL logos.  And the player's draft position on the front of the card is a great touch.  I would like to see it more.
Photo: 3 I notice the grass flying up as he runs (in the bottom right corner).  That's pretty cool.
Back: 2 The back is more of the same from the front, but in black and white.
Condition: 3

 1995 Collector's Choice #44 Mel Gray

Player: 4 He was only a return specialist, but he was an All-Decade guy.
Design: 3 I like these Did You Know? cards.  It definitely looks like a mid-90s card, though. 
Photo: 3 Gray doing what he does best: starting a runback.  Clear action shot is a winner.
Back: 3 Features a new picture, which is good.  But better--there is trivia on the back!  I am a trivia nerd.  And a football card nerd.  I'm in heaven.
Condition: 2 There is a slight ding in one corner.

Final Score: Detroit 15, Dallas 13

Round 2 Matchup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Washington Redskins

As far as individual players go, this is my favorite matchup so far.  Two great defenders who are among my all-time favorites to watch.

1995 Collector's Choice #214 Hardy Nickerson

Player: 5
Design: 4 The name design is interesting.  I like the mix of all lower case and all caps, and the first name smaller and sitting right on top of the last name.  It's appealing, different, and still easy to read.  The white border is nice, too.
Photo: 2 Just a guy in his stance.
Back: 3 But the picture on the back is great.  Hardy Nickerson all over the ball carrier.  The photo on the back takes up the top half of the card, with the stat box beneath.  This set has some great design elements, and I think it hits on the back.
Condition: 3

1999 Collector's Edge Fury #152 Champ Bailey

Player: 5 Corners sometimes get the reputation of being brash, cocky, trash-talking loudmouths.  Champ Bailey is one of two cornerbacks to enter the league in the late 90s--Charles Woodson--that will always have my respect because of the way they handled themselves with dignity and class.
Design: 4 I like just about everything about this design.  The player name, team name, and position are all on the front and big enough to read without taking too much space from the picture.  Collector's Edge was a weird company, and I don't think I'll ever figure out how to tell their brands apart, but their cards were generally pretty good.
Photo: 3 Classic pose here reminds of some vintage cards.  But check out the scoreboard in the back: 23 yards to go? If you're going to put random numbers on the scoreboard so it will be lit up, why not make it seem more like real game situation.  What's wrong with 1st and 10?
Back: 1 The back is extremely boring, with very little vital info or stats.
Condition: 2 To my chagrin, one of my favorite cards in my collection has a dinged corner that I hadn't noticed before.
Extra: 1 Rookie card of an all-time great gets an extra point.

Final Score: Tampa Bay 17, Washington 16
I'm actually kind of surprised by this.  At first glance, I would think that a mid-end rookie card of Champ Bailey would beat a common cheapo brand of Hardy Nickerson, but I think the condition and the back did the Champ in.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Card Madness 2016, Pt. 4

Round 1 Matchup: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

 2013 Topps Strata #70 Troy Polamalu

Player: 5 Polamalu is an all-time great.  I love the way he played the game.  All-intensity, all the time, but without garnering a reputation for being dirty.
Design: 3 I don't know how to describe the design in the background.  Gray concentric circles that give the appearance of a portal.  I like how the gray of this set works with pretty much every team's colors, and the single ring of team color gives the whole design a just enough color to make it interesting.
Photo: 3 This stance epitomizes Polamalu; he just looks like he's stalking his prey, waiting to pounce.
Back: 1 This particular brand's backs are a bid odd.  No stats, really, just lists of highlights.  The real drawback is the writing.  It feels like Topps's writers went crazy with their thesauruses.  As an English teacher, I'm inclined to tell them that bigger, fancier words aren't always better. 
Condition: 3

 2015 Certified #100 Blake Bortles

Player: 4 Maybe this is too high for Bortles.  But he looks good.  In fact, the 2014 QB Class is flashing potential to be considered an all-time great one.  Aside from the train wreck that is Manziel, I like what I see from the top QBs drafted.  I think Bortles may be the best of the group.
Design: 4 Like the Strata above, this set relies on interesting geographic shapes to catch the eye.  And it works.  The gold foil name on a predominantly silver card is a nice touch.
Photo: 4 I was raised under the adage of "You gotta hold your mouth right."  My wife jokes that I have a tell-tale "thinking face" whenever I'm concentrating.  (I'm probably using it right now.)  Blake Bortles is holding his mouth right here.  I'm not sure he's holding the football right, though.  Let's hope he gets that thing turned around before attempting to throw it.
Back: 2
Condition: 2

Final Score: Jacksonville 16, Pittsburgh 15

Round 1 Matchup: Houston Texans vs. Miami Dolphins

2013 Topps Chrome #154 DeAndre Hopkins

Player: 4 Hopkins has shown himself to be an absolute beast, and he's just getting started.  Not to mention the utter lack of talent that has been trying to get the ball to him.  He will be something special before all is said and done.
Design: 3 The 2013 Topps set that I critiqued earlier in this round gets the Chrome treatment.  Nothing to see here.
Photo: 2 It looks like he has just made the catch and is turning upfield for some big yardage.  Too bad he's all alone on an empty practice field.
Back: 2
Condition: 3
Extra: 1 Rookie card of a very good player.

 2014 Panini Contenders #40 Ryan Tannehill

Player: 3 At this time last year, I would have given him a 4.  I still believe in Ryan Tannehill's potential, but I've got to see it at some point.
Design: 4
Photo: 3 Just a shot of a guy looking for a spot to throw.
Back: 1
Condition: 3

Final Score: Houston 15, Miami 14

Round 1 Matchup: Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears

2008 Topps #298 Adrian Peterson

Player: 5 He's Adrian Peterson.  Enough said.
Design: 3 It took me awhile to warm up to this design with its weird bubbles at the top.  I still can't tell if it's attempting to look retro, or what, but the color it adds to the white border is attractive.
Photo: 3 I hate the Pro Bowl.  But I like cards of players in their Pro Bowl jerseys.  Yeah, I don't get it either.
Back: 2 I learned that Adrian Peterson was Pro Bowl MVP as a rookie.  Interesting.  I hadn't really thought that his rookie year 2007, thus this Pro Bowl card featured a rookie.
Condition: 3

 2014 Score #39 Brandon Marshall

Player: 4 I don't like Brandon Marshall.  He's never played for a team I cheer for, and he spent way too much time as a bear.  But he is good at what he does, which is catch passes from middling QBs.
Design: 3 2014 was Score's best design in years.  The angled border even makes the white look good.  I like the subtle foil stamping of the position and jersey number.  But why is the Score logo so enormous?
Photo: 3 Good action shot, straight-arming the defender.
Back: 2
Condition: 3

Final Score: Minnesota 16, Chicago 15

Round 1 Matchup: Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles

2014 Panini Prizm #178 Julio Jones

Player: 4 Julio is proving to be a special talent, capable of dominating about any defender who tries to stop him.  In couple more years, this score probably gets bumped to a 5.
Design: 4 I liked the 2013 Prizm.  I like the 2014 more.  It feels more like a full-bleed card, and the background here is more interesting than the faux border of the previous incarnation of Prizm.
Photo: 3
Back: 2
Condition: 3

2008 Topps #152 Reggie Brown

Player: 1 Despite being a 2nd Round pick, Brown never amassed more than 65 catches in a season and never sniffed 1,000 yards.  He didn't stick around long, either.
Design: 3
Photo: 1 These Philadelphia throwbacks may be the most hideous throwbacks I've seen. And basically the entire team set in 2008 Topps features them.  It makes me glad I don't have them in a binder page.
Back: 2
Condition: 3

Final Score: Atlanta 16, Philadelphia 10--Actually, I feel like I should apologize for subjecting you to that Reggie Brown card.  Not.  Good.  At.  All.

And that takes care of Round 1!  Just like the NCAA Tournament, we are down to 16 remaining teams.  In this exercise, it is obvious that seeding meant nothing, as the lower seed almost always won.  It was just a way to decide some matchups.  I'll pick up the madness again later this week.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Card Madness 2016, Pt. 3

Round 1 Matchup: Denver Broncos vs. Tennessee Titans

2014 Topps Valor #9 Montee Ball

Player: 3 Probably should be a 2, but it wasn't all that long ago that people were after his cards.
Design: 4 Valor may be my favorite set of 2014.  I love the artistic look of it, large logo, and knight-like flag in the background.
Photo: 3 Grass stains.  Grass, dirt, and/or blood should be present on all football cards.
Back: 3

2014 Panini Contenders #96 Jake Locker

Player: 3 See Player Note above.
Design: 4
Photo: 2 Jake Locker back to pass...wonder if he got the ball off.
Back: 1
Condition:  3

Final Score: Denver 15, Tennessee 13

Round 1 Matchup: New England Patriots vs. Cleveland Browns

2015 Topps Chrome X-Fractor #65 Julian Edelman

Player: 4 I'm not big Edelman fan; in fact, I feel he is a bit overrated.  But he is productive.
Design: 3 I don't like this year's Topps flagship design.  Something about it seems futuristic to me.  It's better in Chrome, I'll give it that.  No bump in design for this being an X-Fractor.  I collect shiny refractors, but I really don't like the busy blockiness of X-Fractors.
Photo: 3 Good action shot.  Will the Lion defenders run him down?
Back: 2
Condition:  3

1990 Pro Set #477 Webster Slaughter

Player: 3 Slaughter, I believe is a bit underrated.  Not too many people seem to remember him now, but he was a pretty good receiver in his day.
Design: 2 I actually like the simplicity of Pro Set's design.  But the Browns colors will kill anything.
Photo: 4 Great shot of a fingertip catch along the sideline. 
Back: 3 Simple design, loaded with a bio.  In fact, the bio is probably longer than it should be on most Pro Set cards.
Condition:  2

Final Score: New England 15, Cleveland 14

 Round 1 Matchup: Detroit Lions vs. Los Angeles Rams 

 1996 Playoff Trophy Contenders #20 Barry Sanders

Player: 5 I may be a Packers fan, but I still hold to it that Barry Sanders is my all-time favorite player.  What an electrifying talent!
Design: 4 I don't recall if this card was high-end in the mid-90s.  I don't think so, but the marble and trophy background sure makes it feel that way.
Photo: 4 Every time I see a picture of Barry with his butt parallel to the ground, I believe that a defenders is about to need his ankles taped.
Back: 2
Condition:  2
Extra: 1 I have this thing where I think it's cool if a card number matches the uniform number.  DING, DING, DING!  It happened here.

 2015 Topps Chrome Refractor #74 Nick Foles

Player: 2 It sure didn't take Foles long to prove his unworth.
Design: 4 As I mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of this year's Topps design.  But an extra point is awarded to the refractor.
Photo: 3 I'm sure this pass fell incomplete somewhere.
Back: 2
Condition:  3

Final Score: Detroit 18, Los Angeles 14

Round 1 Matchup: Washington Redskins vs. New Orleans Saints

2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars Statistical Standouts #SS14 Stephen Davis

Player: 3 Stephen Davis was a beast for a short while.  I wish he could have kept it up longer.
Design: 3 It's not terribly interesting, but it could be worse.  The field numbers on the side just seem a little out of place on a red card.  What are they doing there?
Photo: 4 Running backs with the ball are always exciting photos to me.
Back: 2
Condition: 3
Extra: 1 This card gains a point for the inclusion of leather.  This kind of relic is so much cooler to me than a piece of jersey worn at some odd event.  The extra point is lost however, as the card points out that Washington lost the game when this ball was used.   I mean, the team won eight games that year and Davis rushed for over 1,300 yards.  This couldn't have been his only good game of the season, and there were plenty of wins to choose from.  C'mon, Leaf! But then the extra point is gained back because, IT'S A LEATHER PATCH OF FOOTBALL!! 

2012 Rookies & Stars #89 Mark Ingram

Player: 3 A couple more years like this past one, and Mark Ingram will deserve more than a 3.  Right now, though, he's just trying to dig himself out of the hole of being a bust.
Design: 3 This one of the best Rookies & Stars designs.  Clean, interesting lines at the top and a simple foil stamped name on the bottom, leaving the rest for good photography.
Photo: 4 See the photo comment above.
Back: 2 It's basically a repeat of the front picture with minimalistic information and stats.
Condition: 3

Final Score: Washington 16, New Orleans 15

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Card Madness 2016, Pt. 2

Round 1 Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

2013 Panini Prizm #10 Andrew Hawkins
Player: 1
Design: 3
Photo: 2 Looks like it might be post-TD, but who can really tell?
Back: 2 I learned that Hawkins appeared on Michael Irvin's reality show.  Huh?  Michael Irvin had a reality show?  Who knew?
Condition: 2 The top edge has a really rough cut.

2015 Topps Platinum #140 Maxx Williams

Player: 3 He hasn't done much, but he is a promising rookie.
Design: 4 I've decided to put together the Platinum set instead of Chrome this year.  I have a box coming from Dave and Adam's Card World soon that I hope gets me mostly there.  The smoky swirl is a little weird, but I love the bright color and big team logo in the background.  Plus, every card has that refractor shine, and I love me some refractors.
Photo: 3 Looks like a good action shot, but I would guess that it was taken on a practice field as part of some rookie photo shoot.
Back: 2
Condition: 3

Final Score: Baltimore 15, Cincinnati 10

Round 1 Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers

2013 Panini Prizm #86 Donnie Avery

Player: 1
Design: 3 Lots of 2013 Prizm in this round.  I think this is the 3rd.
Photo: 3 Sometimes I like the practice photos with shorts and without pads. 
Back: 1
Condition: 2

 1991 Pacific #644 Shawn Jefferson

Player: 1 So far the quality of players today has been weak.
Design: 2 This is such a cheap brand and has such a huge checklist, bloated by forgettable players that I never realized how good the design was.  The colors are good, the photography is crisp, and the lines make a clean-looking card.
Photo: 3 I don't remember if Shawn Jefferson was a speedster or not, but this picture sure looks like he is about to take off.
Back: 3 The back is great.  It's not messy, has a different picture, and includes some fun facts and trivia. 
Condition: 3

Final Score: San Diego 12, Kansas City 10
Surprisingly, the junk wax era no-namer card of about the cheapest brand around wins the round.

Round 1 Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants

2014 Topps #256 Bruce Irvin

Player: 3 A pretty good player, but one who gets overshadowed by his teammates on an outstanding defense.
Design: 3 I like this Topps design.  There may be a little too much white, but the design looks classy without being too obtrusive.  The font for the name could be bigger though.  It's too hard to see.
Photo: 2 Not bad, but not much going on either.
Back: 3 Gives a little story about how Irvin overcame poverty and other challenges to play college football.  I like a story like that.
Condition: 3

1980 Topps #395 Brad Van Pelt

Player: 4 A pretty good player, but one who gets overshadowed by his teammates on an outstanding defense.  Sounds a lot like the last player.  I like this matchup a lot.  Van Pelt was actually outstanding himself, and was named the Giants player of the decade for the 1970s.
Design: 3 I like the simplicity of the design.  It would be better if Topps had a license then, but on this particular card, it's not all too noticeable.
Photo: 2 The funny thing is, I look at this and think, "That's totally late 70s."  But Van Pelt's look is also en vogue now, too.
Back: 3 It's got  a cartoon.  Love the random Topps cartoons.
Condition: 2 The centering is a little off, and there is a dark spot on the back.  But it's pretty good for being over 30 years old.
Extra: 1 An extra point is awarded for being the father of long-haired outlaw QB Bradlee Van Pelt.  He never made it in the NFL, but I remember his college days well as I followed the Mountain West while he was at Colorado State.

Final Score: New York 16, Seattle 15

Round 1 Matchup: Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers

2014 Panini Contenders #25 Carson Palmer

Player: 4 Can't argue with Carson Palmer, who played like he belong in the upper echelon of QBs this season.
Design: 4 Love 2014 Contenders.  I'm a big fan of the giant team logo in the background.  It's simple, clean, and interesting.  Unlike some other Contenders issues, this one's ticket design doesn't get in the way.  I've figured out that the seat number is the jersey number, but I'm stumped concerning the section and row.  Anybody know if those numbers mean anything?
Photo: 3
Back: 1 As much as I like the design, I don't really want to see it almost identical on both sides.  Panini replaced player stats with team rankings, which I find annoying.
Condition: 3

2014 Topps Greatness Unleashed #GU-CK Colin Kaepernick

Player: 3 I still like Kaepernick and appreciate the success he had early in his career.  It'll be interesting to see how the rest of his career will pan out.
Design: 3 An interesting design, but it has been Photoshopped to death.  Even parts of the player are missing, which is the biggest knock against it.
Photo: 4 I like the picture of Kaepernick on the move, which is what he does best.  But the detail I love is the wristband on which you can see the writing.  I've always been curious what exactly the QB is reading off the wristband.  I know it has plays, but there has to be more than that.  I would love to see one. 
Back: 4 While Topps over-did the front in an attempt to make this insert look high end, the back does the trick.  If all I could see was the back of the card, I would guess it came from Inception or something.
Condition: 3

Final Round: San Francisco 17, Arizona 15

We're halfway through Round 1.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Card Madness 2016, Pt. 1

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 Jackson                                 

Player: 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.

Condition: 3

2013 Topps Chrome #14 Reggie Wayne

Player: 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 Hill

Player: 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.

Condition: 3
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.

Condition: 3

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.

Condition: 3 

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.

Design: 1

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.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Card Madness 2016, Intro

It's Madness Time!

And it seems like everybody has to do some kind of bracket.

And I'm going to do one here, of course.

Since this is a football card blog, my tournament is NFL themed.  I've created a bracket using last year's results (and this year's draft order) to seed the teams.  The top half of the bracket is AFC; the bottom half is NFC.  Each round has a randomly selected card in my collection from the teams in the matchup.  I put the cards head-to-head based on 5 categories:
  • 5 points for the player
  • 4 points for the card's design
  • 4 points for the quality of the photograph
  • 3 points for the card back
  • 3 points for the card's condition
There may also be a bonus point awarded for something I like that doesn't fit into any of those categories.  In the event of a tie, I will break the tie based on the overall feel and my liking of the card.  Yes, this is highly subjective and completely arbitrary.  Sorry about that.  I've been teaching my 8th graders about allusions recently.  Anyway, a new card will be used for each round, so I can showcase as many great random cards as I can.  In the end, one team be will left standing.  Who ya got?

I'm going to try to keep pace with the actual NCAA Tourney, but with a new baby in the equation, I can't make any huge promises.  Suffice it to say I have every intention of completing this tournament in a timely manner.

Here is the bracket.  The 1st Round cards have been chosen at random.  The madness will begin shortly.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Welcome to the World

This is a quick post celebrating a birthday.  A few weeks ago, one of  my favorite bloggers, Nick from Baseball Dime Box bid us adieu on his birthday with a card of man who shares his birthday.  Today I'm celebrating the birth of my first daughter, who joined us on Thursday, with a card of one of the all-time greats, who also happened to be born on March 10.  I don't know anything about Mr. Woodson's birth, but our little girl is wonderfully healthy and cute as can be.

My three sons all sparked a new PC for me.  It seemed more apropos for some inexplicable reason to collect baseball players rather than football players in this case, but I started collecting guys that I normally wouldn't: Andruw Jones, Curt Wilkerson, and Doyle Alexander.  Those guys all share a birthday with my boys.  March 10 didn't really have any baseball players who seemed interesting to collect--sorry, but Dayan Viciedo and John Cangelosi don't do anything for me--but how could I not feature Rod Woodson when I found out he shared a birthday with my daughter?

I don't know about starting a new PC of Woodson for her, though.  I love me some Rod Woodson, but for some reason it doesn't seem fit to recognize that tiny girl with by amassing cardboard pictures of guys with helmets and masks knocking each other around.  I'll have to find another way.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Franchise 9: Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans

One feature I want to make for this blog is to feature the best nine players for each franchise.  Why nine?  Because then I get to create a binder with a page for each team, of course!  To make my task a little easier, I've decided to narrow the field to Super Bowl Era players only.  First of all, it eased the selection process because I wanted to keep each team to nine players.  Trying to take a team like the Bears or Packers with all its history and whittle the greatest players to nine is a daunting task.  For some of these teams, it was hard enough to make the cuts that I did.  To double the length of the history and decide between Norm Van Brocklin and Torry Holt was beyond the scope of what I wanted for this project.  Sorry Norm, it's just easier to justify excluding you because of your time period.  Second, it makes it a bit easier to collect the cards I need without having to bust my budget on a lot of vintage.  Third, since half the teams in the NFL don't have history too far beyond the advent of the Super Bowl, it levels the field a little for the newer teams.

As is always the case with any type of ranking, there will be plenty of room for debate.  This is in no way a definitive list.  I have a soft spot in my heart for the guys in the trenches, so some may say that I have included too many offensive linemen.  Interestingly, I have found that most teams have a 5/4 split between offense and defense, or vice-versa.  I didn't intentionally try to even it out, that's just how it turned out.  This is just my opinion, and I tried to base it on both stats and status.  I've learned a little bit of football history in the process as well, and having a bit of history is one of the appeals of collecting to me.  In any case, it gave me another something to do with my cards, and that's why I did it in the first place.

The teams will be presented in no particular order; basically, I have chosen the players already and am in the process of filling in the gaps as I do not currently own a card of every player I have chosen.  I'll present each team as I complete its page.  Players are in order of position, not ranking.  I don't really care to take my nine franchise players and try to rank their greatness.  I'll just leave it as a team.

Now for what you really want to see: some cards!  Beginning with one of the weakest teams in the Super Bowl Era, the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans.

1. Steve McNair, QB (1995 Skybox Impact RC)
"Air" McNair was a top-five draft pick from a small school, which in and of itself sets him apart as a quarterback.   Fellow small-school prospect Carson Wentz can only hope his NFL future matches McNair's career.  He led the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance, and came a Kevin Dyson yard short of winning it.  In 11 years with the team, he passed for over 27,000 yards and 136 TDs.  Tack on 36 rushing TDs and an MVP award in 2003, and McNair is arguably the most successful QB in franchise history.

2. Warren Moon, QB (2012 Topps Rookie Reprint)
If McNair was the most successful, Warren Moon was the most prolific QB in franchise history.  Moon spent 10 years with the club, passing for a franchise record 33,685 yards and 196 TDs in the famous Run 'n' Shoot offense.

3. Earl Campbell, RB (1991 Score)
For a guy I never saw play, Earl Campbell ranks pretty high on my list of all-time favorite players.  He rushed for 8,574 yards for the Oilers and was a nightmare for would-be tacklers.

4. Eddie George, RB (1996 Pinnacle RC)
Eddie George spent 10 years in Tennessee, eclipsing 10,000 rushing yards in that time.  This card is interesting to me.  Pinnacle is definitely one of my favorite brands of the 90s, and I like the gold pyramid at the bottom.  I like the inside the stadium setting of this card, but the women's restroom sign to Eddie's left is a bit weird.

5. Chris Johnson, RB (2010 Topps 1000 Yard Club)
Johnson was a tough inclusion here.  One on hand, he only spent six years with the franchise.  On the hand, he is one of only seven players in history with a 2,000 yard season.  Six years put him third on the franchise career rushing list.  But his flash-in-the-pan status almost kept him off the list.  This card was hard to resist putting in as well, because it's the 1000 Yard Club insert detailing his 2K year on the back.

6. Bruce Matthews, OL (1993 Fleer)
Matthews spent his entire 19-year career with Houston/Tennessee, logging starts at every position along the offensive line.  He was named to 14 Pro Bowls and the 7 1st-Team All-Pro teams.  He is also one of the 1st-team guards on the 1990 All-Decade Team.  I don't know why, but I love the 1993 Fleer set.  It's one that I will never complete, mainly because I don't have a big enough desire to complete it, but I have a whole stack of them.  It's a design I have long loved, with its transparent block lettering and sometimes awful centering.  I'm finding that I'm a big fan of the old Fleer, and this set is one of the best.

7. Mike Munchak, G (1991 Pinnacle)
Munchak spent all 12 of his NFL seasons with Houston.  During that time, he was named to 9 Pro Bowls and 2 1st-Team All-Pro Teams.  He is also a member of the 1980s All-Decade Team and the Hall of Fame.  To boot, he also manned the franchise as the head coach from 2011-2013.  But we won't hold that against him.  It's fitting that one of the few teams with three running backs in the Franchise 9 has two of the game's greatest offensive linemen.

8. Elvin Bethea, DE (1978 Topps)
Bethea spent 16 years with Houston, earning 8 Pro Bowl nods in that span.  According to, Bethea has a career approximate value rating, good enough for 8th on the franchise list.

9. Keith Bulluck, LB (2008 Upper Deck)
Rounding out the Houston/Tennessee Franchise 9 is Keith Bulluck.  For 10 seasons, Bulluck was the model of consistency for the team.  He may not be the sexiest pick, but ranks 3rd in franchise history in tackles, 3rd in fumbles forces, 18th in sacks, and 15th in interceptions.  He did a lot of everything for a decade, and never received the credit he deserved.

Well, there it is.  The first of 32 Franchise 9 pages.  I hope you enjoy looking as much as I have enjoyed creating the lists and will enjoy filling in the holes.