When I first started this blog, one of my first features was a card tournament to coincide with everybody's favorite bracket, March Madness. I did it first in 2016 with football then repeated in 2018 with baseball. It's been a couple of years, but I want to revive the Madness. This year, we'll turn back to football. Here's how it works: I created a bracket of all NFL teams. Teams will match up with a randomly chosen card from my collection. I will choose the better of the two cards and the winner will advance to next round. I'll judge on criteria such as card design, player, card backs, or whatever else I choose.
Here is our beginning bracket:
Round 1 Matchup: Los Angeles Rams vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
1988 Topps 1000 Yard Club #1 Charles White vs. 2019 Absolute #162 Gardner Minshew
Interesting match-up here. We have an old school insert against a shiny base card rookie. Design-wise, 1988 1000 Yard Club is pretty good. It's recognizable. It has always reminded me of money. I like the backs that show a game-by-game record of the player's 1000 yard achievement. 2019 Absolute is one of my favorite Absolute designs in recent years. I like the laces running up the left side. The rookies were chromified, while veterans weren't in the retail version I bought that year. Minshew was a flash-in-pan success as a rookie, while White was a career back-up. White's best season was by his 1374 yard effort in 1987. Since that was a strike year, it appears that White took advantage and played with replacement players to be the Rams' feature back that year.
Round 1 Matchup: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Indianapolis Colts
2007 Topps #212 vs. 2009 Score #310 Austin Collie
I'm not over the moon about either of these designs, but I give the advantage to Score here. It doesn't wow me, but I have a pretty big dislike for 2007 Topps. There's no denying that Gates had a far better career than Collie, but Collie gets extra points for being arguably the greatest receiver in BYU history. As for the photo on the cards, I prefer Collie's to Gates's. The angle of picture on Antonio Gates's card isn't the best. In fact, because of the difficulty of reading the foil name on the black border and the way Gates has his number obscured I didn't realize at first that it was Antonio Gates. In short, the Chargers are represented by a bad card of a legendary player. The Colts have a decent card of a player I like who had a short-lived NFL career.
Round 1: Atlanta Falcons vs. Buffalo Bills
1992 Ultra #4 Darion Conner vs. 1991 Score #623 Thurman Thomas
We have two early 90s cards here. If we were talking base card design here, 1992 Ultra would win over 1991 Score any day, but the Score card is the Team MVP subset. I like art cards, so this is a draw. In terms of player quality, Thurman Thomas is out of Darion Conner's league. This one isn't too difficult a choice.
Round 1: Denver Broncos vs. Dallas Cowboys
2008 Upper Deck First Edition #46 Jay Cutler vs. 2018 Donruss #76 Ezekiel Elliot
Two players that have had decent careers, but that I don't care much for. The first card is pretty nice-looking card. 2008 Upper Deck has always been pretty good to me, and I like the First Edition even more than the original. I like the "First Edition" banner on the side and the words are easier to read here than they are in foil on the regular cards. I like the ball in the air and Cutler just still finishing his follow-through. The second card is probably my favorite Donruss design in recent years. I like the waves at the bottom of the card. If I had to choose, I'd take Zeke over Smoking Jay, but I'd take the Cutler card between these two.
So there is the first day of this tournament. We have 12 more matchups in the first round in the coming days.