HOF Spotlight: Ollie Matson

08.06.2012

Ollie Matson
Name: Ollie Matson
Position: Halfback
Pro Career: 1952, 1954 – 1966
Team Affiliation(s): Chicago Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles
College: San Francisco
Induction Class: 1972
HOF Profile: Click Here
 
 

Brief Bio: A lone shining star in an otherwise dark abyss, Ollie Matson was often the sole bright spot for awful teams. Yet despite playing for just two teams with winning records during his brilliant 14-year career, and often being the opposing defense’s only target, Matson built an exceptional résumé. A quick-footed All-American who represented the United States in the 1952 Olympics, Matson was the number 1 draft choice of the basement dwelling Chicago Cardinals and was their supposed savior. When he was traded to Los Angeles for an unheard-of 9 players in 1959, he was once again labeled the potential deliverer for a fledging franchise. While Lady Luck was never Matson’s teammate, he competed to his fullest year in and year out and was a six-time Pro Bowl and All-NFL honoree.

Career Stats: 171 games played; 5,173 rushing yards; 40 rushing TDs; 3,285 receiving yards; 23 receiving TDs; 3,746 kickoff return yards; 6 kickoff return TDs; 119 passing yards; 595 punt return yards; 3 punt return TDs; 1 fumble recovery TD, 3 INTs

1952 Bowman #127

Featured Card: 1952 Bowman #127. Along with fellow University of San Francisco alumnus and 1972 Hall of Inductee Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson was featured on his rookie card before ever playing a down of professional football, something not nearly as common as today. There are not a lot of copies of this card listed on eBay, but prices range from about $50 to $499. Buying vintage can certainly be a lot of fun, especially for older collectors or football history buffs. Just always be aware of what you’re buying as lots of counterfeits and reprints do exist, especially for a legendary set like the 1952 Bowmans.

NOTE: You can find all of my Hall Of Fame Spotlight Features by clicking the HOF Spotlight banner above.

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HOF Spotlight: Norm Van Brocklin

02.06.2012

Norm Van Brocklin
Name: Norm Van Brocklin
Position: Quarterback
Pro Career: 1949 – 1960
Team Affiliation(s): Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles
College: Oregon
Induction Class: 1971
HOF Profile: Click Here
 
 

Brief Bio: Quarterbacks do not like to share the spotlight, especially amongst their own teammates. But that is just what Norm Van Brocklin had to do when he joined the Rams in 1949 as they already had future fellow HOFer Bob Waterfield. Despite splitting time with another great tosser, Van Brocklin won the NFL’s passing crown in 1950 and 1952 (he won a third in 1954 after he was given full time QB status). In 1951, Van Brocklin once threw 554 yards in a single game and later connected with another fellow HOFer Tom Fears for a 73-yard touchdown to give the Rams their only title since the their move to L.A. When “the Dutchman” was traded to Philadelphia in 1958, he again built a winning tradition and won the NFL championship in 1960, becoming the only man to defeat a Vince Lombardi-led team in a championship game.

Career Stats: 140 games played; 1,553 for 2,895 passing (53.6%); 23,611 passing yards; 173 passing TDs; 178 INTs; 11 rushing TDs; 22,413 punting yards (42.9 avg).

1951 Bowman #4

Featured Card: 1951 Bowman #4. The Bowman Gum company picked just the right year to give Norm Van Brocklin his rookie card as the great passer dominated opponents and helped lead his Rams to the NFL championship. As with a lot of vintage rookie cards, there is a wide range of conditions, grades, and prices from which to choose if looking to add this card to your collection. Current market prices generally fall between $150 and $300. There is one listing for a PSA 9 with a heart-burn producing $55,000 price tag. You definitely want to decide what your focus will be before you get too deep into building a HOF collection. There are lots of other Van Brocklin cards available, many of which will not break the bank.

NOTE: You can find all of my Hall Of Fame Spotlight Features by clicking the HOF Spotlight banner above.


HOF Spotlight: Y.A. Tittle

01.30.2012

Y.A. Tittle
Name: Y.A. Tittle
Position: Quarterback
Pro Career: 1948 – 1964
Team Affiliation(s): Baltimore Colts, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants
College: Louisiana State
Induction Class: 1971
HOF Profile: Click Here
 
 

Brief Bio: A model of perseverance, Y.A. Tittle played 14 years of professional football before he finally tasted the sweetness of consistent victory. Tittle compiled impressive personal statistics during his stints in Baltimore and San Francisco, yet championship caliber competition eluded him. When he was traded to the New York Giants in 1961, that all changed. Despite not winning the overall NFL championship, Tittle led the Giants to divisional titles in each of his first three seasons in New York. In all, Tittle was named the NFL’s MVP in 1961 and 1963, All-NFL in 1957, 1961, 1962, and 1963, and played in seven Pro Bowls.

Career Stats: 178 games played; 2,118 for 3,817 passing (55.5%); 28,339 passing yards; 212 passing TDs; 221 INTs; 999 rushing yards; 33 rushing TDs.

1950 Bowman #5

Featured Card: 1950 Bowman #5. Y.A. Tittle’s official rookie card coincides with his debut in the NFL as the Baltimore Colts were still in the AAFC for his first two professional seasons. This undersized (by today’s standard) set featured airbrushed colors on B&W photography. Current market prices are generally over $200 but only a few exceed $500. There is one PSA 9 listed for a staggering $40,000. One note of caution for this cards is that there have been reprints produced, so be sure you know exactly what you’re buying, especially if shopping online.

NOTE: You can find all of my Hall Of Fame Spotlight Features by clicking the HOF Spotlight banner above.


HOF Spotlight: Andy Robustelli

01.23.2012

Andy Robustelli
Name: Andy Robustelli
Position: Defensive End
Pro Career: 1951 – 1964
Team Affiliation(s): Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants
College: Arnold College
Induction Class: 1971
HOF Profile: Click Here
 
 

Brief Bio: Perhaps the epitome of draft sleepers, Andy Robustelli went from being a 19th-Round pick to a Hall of Famer. When the Rams didn’t have room for him as an offensive end, he went all out on the defensive side of the ball and became one of the greatest D-Ends to ever play the game. A superb pass rusher, Robustelli was named to seven Pro Bowls and seven All-NFL teams. In 1962 as a member of the Giants, he was awarded the NFL’s top player by the Maxwell Club, an honor typically bestowed upon offensive studs. Despite playing for the losing team in six championship games, Robustelli did taste success with his two league championship victories, including 1951 as a highly involved rookie. Robustelli recently passed away at the age of 85.

Career Stats: 175 games played; 22 fumble recoveries; 2 fumble recovery TDs; 1 receiving TD; 2 INTs; 2 INT TDs.

1952 Bowman #85

Featured Card: 1952 Bowman #85. As a member of the 1951 Champion L.A. Rams, Andy Robustelli didn’t have to wait long to get his official rookie card. The 1952 Bowman set was released with two variations, a large and small set. Based on current market prices, the large set seems to be the more popular amongst collectors. The prices for this particular card tend to run in the $50 – 150 range. As always, there is a token much-higher-than-anything-else listing with a sticker price $1,750 for a PSA 8. This card comes from one of the more desirable and recognizable vintage football card sets and would be a great addition to a HOF focused collection.

NOTE: You can find all of my Hall Of Fame Spotlight Features by clicking the HOF Spotlight banner above.


HOF Spotlight: Hugh McElhenny

08.08.2011

Tom Fears
Name: Hugh McElhenny
Position: Halfback
Pro Career: 1952 – 1964
Team Affiliation(s): San Francisco 49ers; Minnesota Vikings; New York Giants; Detroit Lions
College: Washington; Compton Junior College
Induction Class: 1970
HOF Profile: Click Here
 

Brief Bio: If ever there was a professional football player who “hit the ground running,” that player would be Hugh McElhenny. After rewriting the Pacific Coast Conference’s record book while at Washington, McElhenny was the first round draft choice of the 49ers. In his very first play from scrimmage, “The King” bounded down the field for a 40-yard touchdown. By the end of his rookie season, he had accrued the season’s longest run from scrimmage (89 yards), the longest punt return (94 yards), the top rushing average (7.0 yards per carry), an All-NFL recognition, and a unanimous Rookie of the Year honor. McElhenny continued his electrifying combination of speed and elusive moves in San Francisco for nine seasons and still had plenty in the tank for the expansion Minnesota Vikings in 1961. Two years later, McElhenny realized a life-long dream, playing for a championship team, when he joined the New York Giants. McElhenny retired after the 1964 season as one of only three players to amass 11,000+ all-purpose yards – well over six miles.

Career Stats: 143 games played; 5,281 rushing yards; 38 rushing TDs; 3,247 receiving yards; 20 receiving TDs; 920 punt return yards; 2 punt return TDs; 1,921 kickoff return yards; 1 passing TD; 1 INT; 11,375 all-purpose yards

1952 Bowman #29

Featured Card: 1952 Bowman #29. As an All-American and record setting college player, Bowman opted to include McElhenny right away in its 1952 set. The card comes in both a large and small variant, with the small being more scarce but seemingly less popular amongst collectors. Prices on the secondary market are a bit scattered with a fairly evenly distribution from $85 up to $425 with a pretty clear graded preference There are, of course, the absurdly expensive listings: a $2,750 SGC 96 (+$13 shipping!) and a $2,000 PSA 8. If you aren’t focused on rookie cards, McElhenny is also featured in numerous other vintage card sets as well as a smattering of junk wax era and very recent high-end sets, so there is something for anyone looking to build a football HOF collection.

NOTE: You can find all of my Hall Of Fame Spotlight Features by clicking the HOF Spotlight banner above.


HOF Spotlight: Tom Fears

07.11.2011

Tom Fears
Name: Tom Fears
Position: End
Pro Career: 1948 – 1956
Team Affiliation(s): Los Angeles Rams
College: Santa Clara; UCLA
Induction Class: 1970
HOF Profile: Click Here
 
 

Brief Bio: Originally a defensive back with ball-hawking skills, Rams coaches quickly switched Tom Fears to offensive end and the move paid in spades. Fears led the league in receptions each of his first three seasons and improved his statistics each year while setting new league records. In 1950, he broke his own record with 84 receptions on the season, caught a then-record 18 passes in a single game, and scored all three Rams touchdowns to beat the Chicago Bears for the Western Division crown. A year later, his memorable 73-yard sensation of a reception broke a 17-17 tie and won the NFL championship over the Cleveland Browns. Fears was never an especially swift runner but was an overly precise route-runner and, despite his last name, was utterly fearless when catching a pass in traffic. Fears was named to the All-NFL squad twice.

Career Stats: 87 games played; 400 receptions; 5,397 receiving yards; 38 receiving TDs; 1 FG; 12 PATs; 2 INTs; 1 INT TD

1950 Bowman #51

Featured Card: 1950 Bowman #51. By the time Tom Fears was featured on his own rookie card, he had already established himself as a dominate and premiere receiver in the NFL. Current eBay prices for this card generally fall just below $100, although there is a pretty clear grading preference. As always, there is a token high priced listing – a $1,750 PSA 9. Fears has also been featured in several other vintage sets, junk wax era HOF-focused sets, modern high-end insert sets, and even modern base sets as a Legends subject.

 

NOTE: You can find all of my Hall Of Fame Spotlight Features by clicking the HOF Spotlight banner above.


HOF Spotlight: Jack Christiansen

07.05.2011

Jack Christiansen
Name: Jack Christiansen
Position: Defensive Back
Pro Career: 1951 – 1958
Team Affiliation(s): Detroit Lions
College: Colorado State
Induction Class: 1970
HOF Profile: Click Here
 
 

Brief Bio: A small but crafty specialist, Jack Christiansen almost didn’t even play college football due to his size. Fortunately, he was coaxed onto the squad and was an instant star for Colorado State. His size also caused many NFL teams to doubt his value, but the Lions were quickly rewarded for drafting him. Twice in his rookie season, he returned two punts for touchdowns in the same game. Opposing teams quickly switched to the spread punt formation when facing the Lions and developed a don’t punt to Jack mantra. For as good of a returner as Christiansen was, his forte was as a defensive back where he wrecked havoc on passing schemes. Twice he led or co-led the league in interceptions and was name to six consecutive All-NFL teams and played in five consecutive Pro Bowls. With Christiansen in the defensive backfield, the Lions dominated the 1950s, winning four divisional and three world championships.

Career Stats: 89 games played; 1,084 punt return yards; 8 punt return TDs; 1,329 kickoff return yards; 46 INTs; 3 INT TDs; 7 fumble recoveries; 2 rushing TDs

1952 Bowman #129

Featured Card: 1952 Bowman #129. With such a strong rookie campaign, there is little doubt why Bowman opted to include Jack Christiansen in their 1952 football set. Fans still love this legendary set, which came in large and small variations. Current eBay auctions are fairly evenly spread from a low of $125 to a second highest $579, with a slight grading preference. There is the token excessively priced $5,000 listing – a small PSA 8.5. Christiansen also has several other vintage football cards as the hobby was finally starting to catch on in the 1950s. He has also been featured in more modern HOF-focused sets.

NOTE: You can find all of my Hall Of Fame Spotlight Features by clicking the HOF Spotlight banner above.