Here we are, down the Final Four. One post will get us through both semifinal matchups to our championship round. So far, we've seen 56 cards through 28 matchups to get where we are now. Here is the course of the tournament so far.
Let's kickoff the Final Four!
Round 4: Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings
2019 Panini Playoff #173 Aqib Talib vs. 1990 Action Packed #152 Anthony Carter
Aqib Talib was a premiere corner for a span of about five years in the 2010s. He had a run of Pro Bowl appearances and All-Pro nominations to back up his play. Anthony Carter was no slouch, either. He made three straight Pro Bowls at one point in his career. Career-wise, Talib played in eight more games and bested Carter's career Approximate Value number 83-75. But Talib also had some off-the-field issues that sour my view of him a little. The player comparison may be really tight, but it doesn't matter too much because this one is all about 1990 Action Packed. Gold border! Embossed cards you can feel! I still remember my eight-year-old brain being blown when my mom brought me home a pack of this and I saw them for the first time. And there's even a box on the back designated for an autograph! It would have taken a lot bigger difference in players than this matchup provided for 2019 Playoff to beat Action Packed.
Round 4: Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Donruss #383 Da'Shawn Hand vs. 2019 Donruss #209 Randall Cunningham
It seems like we've seen a few 2019 Donruss contenders that have put up a fight, yet not overcome their opponent. Squaring off against Donruss from the year before seems to level the playing field a little. Design-wise, I think both are good, but not great. I like the waves on 2018; I like the semi-transparent, team-colored diagonals bars on 2019. One detail in 2019 that I had never noticed until this tournament was team name running vertically and ever so faintly next to the team logo. When we look at the card subjects, the winner becomes quite clear. One is a boring combine photo of a defensive lineman who has played in only 30 games across three years. The other is the classic flying Eagles wings helmet on uber-athlete QB Randall Cunningham. I was a huge Randall fan as a kid, and he wins easily to help 2019 Donruss get over the hump and the Eagles advance to the finals.
And we are down to two! As you read this, I'll be going under the knife to repair the ACL that I tore while playing basketball with my kids on Presidents' Day. I'm using my Spring Break to recuperate--and to write out the thrilling conclusion to this tournament.
Vikings. Eagles. Monday!