Heisman Highlight: Billy Sims


Heisman Highlight

Name: Billy Sims
Position: Running Back
College: Oklahoma Sooners
Class: Junior
Winning Year: 1978 – 44th Award
Official Heisman Profile: Click Here

Interesting Notes: Sims was a man possessed his junior year, setting the Big Eight single season rushing record at 1,762 yards on 7.6 yards per attempt…rushed for more than 300 yards in three consecutive games…won a host of national awards in just his first full season after injury-riddled freshman and sophomore years…had fewer first place votes than Penn State QB Chuck Fusina but finished ahead in total points by dominating the second place votes…was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1995.

1981 Topps #100

Featured Card: 1981 Topps #100. Sims may have set the news presses on fire in 1978, but he has evidently lost some of his luster after 30 years. There are relatively few copies of his rookie card listed on eBay and not one breaks the $50 mark. Interestingly enough, there are a few autographed copies available, which is not the case for many Heisman winners. With a vast majority of listings falling under $10 shipped, this would be a great card to add to or kick start a Heisman winners rookie card collection.

NOTE: You can find all of my Heisman Highlight Features by clicking the post banner above.


HOF Spotlight: Pete Pihos


Tom Fears
Name: Pete Pihos
Position: End
Pro Career: 1947 – 1955
Team Affiliation(s): Philadelphia Eagles
College: Indiana
Induction Class: 1970
HOF Profile: Click Here

Brief Bio: Pete Pihos may have been the very definition of versatility. Drafted in 1945 but unable to play until 1947 due to military service, Pihos made an immediate impact on both sides of the ball once he hit the field. A second-minute man, Pihos was an excellent receiver and defensive end. As football become a platoon-style game, Pihos was positioned as a receiving specialist and thrived. The Eagles won three straight divisional championships and back-to-back NFL championships with Pihos catching the ball. In 1952, the Eagles were in desperate need for a defensive end and Pihos aptly filled the roll, winning All-NFL honors. Pihos then switched back to receiver and was the league leader for the final three seasons of his career. He was never a blazing speedster, but what he lacked there he more than made up for in moves, brains, and toughness. Pihos missed just 1 game his entire NFL career.

Career Stats: 107 games played; 373 receptions; 5,619 receiving yards; 61 receiving touchdowns; 1 punt return TD; 1 fumble recovery for TD; 2 INTs.

1948 Leaf #16

Featured Card: 1948 Leaf #16. Making an immediate impact on the field, there is little wonder why Leaf picked up Pete Pihos in its 1948 set. Despite not being one of the all-time “big names,” Pihos obviously still catches collectors’ attention. There are quite a few copies of his Leaf rookie card available on eBay, ranging in price from $15 to $225. Interestingly enough, there are currently no graded copies of the card listed, which seems a bit odd for a vintage rookie card, especially of a hall of famer. Pihos does have another official rookie card, 1948 Bowman #63, and several other vintage cards available.


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

Product Review: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter


Wait a minute. Something doesn’t look right. Isn’t Allen & Ginter a baseball set? Aren’t I reading a football card blog? Did banks get tired of buying each other and opt to start buying and merging sports card blogs? I’m confused.

The answer to those burning questions would be: Yes. Yes. Not yet. So to clarify, I will remind you all that I already posted a disclaimer about this one. I got caught up in the moment and bought a box of baseball cards. I wasn’t able to enter Gint-a-Cuffs III, so I figured I might as well do a box break review. This is that review.

2011 Topps Allen and Ginter box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 24 8-card packs for a total of 192 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $82, which translates into a reasonable $0.43/card ratio. Allen & Ginter is a rare breed. It appeals to set collectors with its large base set, short prints, and variants, but it also appeals to hit collectors (though certainly not as much as a super high end set) with its red ink autos and DNA relics. So $0.43 is just about right: low enough for set collectors to buy in bulk but not so low that it thwarts all mojo collectors.

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter pack
If you get around Blogland, you’ve seen this olde tyme guy a lot by now…

The Breakdown:
Base Cards
   Total: 127 (3 duplicates)
   Rookie Cards: 13
   Short Prints: 12
   Base Minis: 6
   A&G Ad Back: 6
   Black Border Parallels: 3
   Portraits of Penultimacy: 2
   World’s Most Mysterious Figures: 1
   Animals in Peril: 2
   Step Right Up: 2
   Uninvited Guests: 2
   Hometown Heroes: 18
   Floating Fortresses: 3
   Baseball Highlight Sketches: 4
   Minds That Made the Future: 3
   The Ascent of Man: 4
   Base Code Card Parallels: 3
   N43 Box Loader: 1
   A&G Captured Mini Relics: 3

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
Click each image for a full-sized scan

1st Down, Design: I love it. Other folks have mentioned they don’t particularly care for the A&G design this year and that it’s slowly been going downhill over the past few years. This is my first real look at A&G, so I guess I haven’t been jaded by even better sets, because I really like this design. The painted feel of the photos is great and the overall design is very clean. I also really like the logo placement and what Topps did for the non-MLB base cards. I do admit the player name placement could be better. The last names just sorta hang out there. One thing I’m not a fan of is the horizontal cards. They just seem awkward and don’t fit the feel of the set as well, especially the ones that have an action shot. The card backs are interesting. Maybe A&G has always done this, but I was amused by the lack of any graphics and having all statistics in word form.

2nd Down, Inserts: Where to start? I guess the minis. These are cool, espcially since they have the old cigarette feel to them, especially once you add the Ad Backs. The various inserts were all very interesting subjects, I’m just still not sure how I feel about non-sports cards in my sports card box. One thing I need help from an avid A&G fan is about the mini vs standard sized inserts. Other than base cards, all of my minis were from different sets than my standard sized inserts. Is that common? Do they separate inserts so that this group is only available as minis and that group is only available in standard sized? I also really like the A&G relics. I find it really cool that the actual relic swatch is embedded on a mini card which is then encased inside a standard sized card. Cool stuff. I’m also digging the plaid Upton relic. For more information on that, go read Night Owl’s post. Overall, these are pretty cool inserts. Even if I do have my doubts about sponges being a part of the “ascent of man”. It probably doesn’t help that I believe in intelligent Creation…

3rd Down, Collation: Solid. Out of 127 base cards, a mere 3 were duplicates. I tend to hate duplicates, but that really isn’t a bad ratio at all. And one of those was from my favorite team (Pedro Alvarez), so I really can’t complain (although I’d rather have a duplicate of Neil Walker or Andrew McCutchen). I feel like I got all of the short prints, minis, relics, and various other inserts I was supposed to get, so that is another plus. Really, this was one of the best collated boxes I’ve seen in a long time. Hopefully this box is indicative of the entire product run.

4th Down, Overall Value: Well, it certainly helps that this is one of the most popular products of the year across any sport. As I said, there are a lot of pieces to lure in a lot of different types of collectors. You’re getting a very nicely designed product with some rather nice “chase” cards for a decent enough price. One factor that probably goes unnoticed in these product reviews more than it should is the fun factor. This product was just fun to open. I never knew if the next card was going to be a base card of Chase Utley, a mini parallel of Wee Man, or a very colorful card of a fish. Not every card appealed to my tastes in collecting (where are the Emmitt Smith A&G minis?!?), but each one has a cool factor. Considering this is a HOBBY (which a lot of people seem to forget on a daily basis), what more could you ask?

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN, PAT GOOD As I mentioned above, maybe it’s just because I haven’t had prior experience with the Allen & Ginter line, but I loved this product. There were very few items that made me question the folks behind the scenes and it was just a blast to open. I got thrashed for saying the Big Time inserts in 2011 SAGE were nice because they were colorful and reminded me of my childhood for some reason, but I’m going to play a similar card here. Even if these cards were worthless (and I’m not sure how many people are storming eBay looking for cards of old wooden ships), this product would still have a fair amount of value in every pack. It’s well designed. It’s spontaneous. It’s fun. It deserves the TD and PAT.

NEXT UP: 2011 Score

Heisman Highlight: Earl Campbell


Heisman Highlight

Name: Earl Campbell
Position: Running Back
College: Texas Longhorns
Class: Senior
Winning Year: 1977 – 43rd Award
Official Heisman Profile: Click Here

Interesting Notes: Campbell had a very successful four year rushing career at Texas…eclipsed the 100-yard mark in 18 college games…was a four-time All Southwest running back (the first to do so)…won every region of Heisman voting except his home base…was the first overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft…broke several rookie records with the Houston Oilers…had a very successful NFL career…was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1990.

1979 Topps #390

Featured Card: 1979 Topps #390. Earl’s Heisman victory, #1 overall pick status, and successful NFL career have obviously kept him in the collecting limelight. There are a lot of current listings on eBay with a huge range of prices. There are actually TWO token higher than anything listings right around $2,000. There are a large number of copies available in the $25-$50 range. There are a handful of auctions starting at just $0.99 and the lowest BIN listing carries a $5.25 + 2 S/H. So yeah, there’s a wide range.

NOTE: You can find all of my Heisman Highlight Features by clicking the post banner above.

HOF Spotlight: Hugh McElhenny


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.

Heisman Highlight: Tony Dorsett


Heisman Highlight

Name: Tony Dorsett
Position: Running Back
College: Pittsburgh Panthers
Class: Senior
Winning Year: 1976 – 42nd Award
Official Heisman Profile: Click Here

Interesting Notes: Dorsett set numerous NCAA rushing records including most yards gained, most seasons gaining 1,000 yards, most seasons gaining 1,500 yards, most rushes, most yards rushing, and most yards gained in a season…led Pitt to a national title over Georgia as a senior…rushed for 6,082 yards in his four-year career…joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1977 and won Rookie of the Year honors and played in the Super Bowl alongside Roger Staubach, Heisman Winner of 1963… was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1994.

1978 Topps #315

Featured Card: 1978 Topps #315. Tony’s successful NFL career with one of the league’s most popular teams has kept him in the minds of many fans and collectors. Despite his rookie card being 33 years old, there is still a lot of activity on the secondary market. There are tons of listings on eBay with a wide range of prices and a pretty clear grading preference. The token much higher than anything else listing carries an asking price of $325 (+5.95 shipping) but it looks like the most popular range is $30-$40.

NOTE: You can find all of my Heisman Highlight Features by clicking the post banner above.

Product Review: 2011 Donruss Elite


Here is a pop quiz for you: What has two thumbs, buys football cards, and then waits well over a month to post a review? THIS GUY. I don’t know what my deal is recently. Other than all of the time constraint complaints I’ve listed before, there really is no excuse for this. The lockout is over. The release calendar is heating up. This is when I should just be gearing up, not slowing down. I’ll work on that. While I do, here is a review of 2011 Donruss Elite:

2011 Donruss Elite box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 20 5-card packs for a total of 100 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $93, which translates into a reasonable $0.93/card ratio. Donruss Elite has been one of the more stable products in terms of price and expectations. It seems like it has always been the quintessential mid-shelf, pre-season release. In an NFL off-season full of so many uncertainties, it was nice to have a familiar product to open. The only problem is now half of the players have the wrong team logo on their cards…

2011 Donruss Elite pack
AD…as in “Advertising Demon”…he moves products

The Breakdown:
Base Cards
   Veterans: 86 (0 duplicates)
   Rookies (#/999): 4
   NFL/Team Logos (#/999): 3
   Hit List (#/999): 1
   Craftsmen (#/999): 1
   Power Formulas (#/999): 1
   Legends of the Fall (#/999): 1
   Rookie Aspirations Die-Cut (#/85): 1
   Craftsmen Jerseys (#/299): 1
   Power Formulas Jerseys (#/299): 1
   Turn of the Century Rookie Autographs (#/499): 1
   Rookie Aspirations Die-Cut Autographs (#/49): 1
   Printing Plate (1/1): 1

2011 Donruss Elite2011 Donruss Elite
Click each image for a full-sized scan

1st Down, Design: In a word: retro. I’m not talking about the faux retro that has been all the rage the past few years, I’m talking about mid- to late-90s awesomeness. Maybe that’s not retro to very many collectors, but it definitely takes me back to a simpler time. But not simpler cards. When I peeled back the wrapper of the first pack and saw this year’s base design, I may have actually said out loud, “That’s actually pretty cool.” It definitely reminds me of a lot of sets in the 90s that had bold player images on top of a shiny silver backgrounds (that still don’t scan well appreantly). I still think the Panini brethren could have built in some logos or team colors on the card front as they are still terribly sterile, but at least the base design is solid. The card backs are…well, they’re Panini card backs. I swear one day they’re just going to say “Eff it, let’s just copy and paste the card backs for all our products this year” because they’re definitely moving in that direction. One side note, I still don’t understand the idea behind making base rookie cards completely different than the base veterans. I’m cool with some sort of “rookie” designation, but the entirely different design just seems odd to me. It takes most of the box until I figure out if I’m pulling base rookies or some special serial numbered insert, especially when I’m only pulling 4 RCs in an entire box.

2nd Down, Inserts: In a word: meh. The whole “let’s cut the player out of a great action shot and put him on a designed background with a whole bunch of lines and shapes” is starting to get trite. It’s actually getting to the point where I don’t like pulling basic inserts. And that makes me sad. Really sad. Because there was a time when I LOVED inserts. But that was before pack-inserted autographs, jersey swatches, and ultra low numbered parallels took the Hobby Throne. I’m also not sure what the point of serial numbering everything out of 999 is. Granted, this comes from a guy who used to be stoked to pull a card #1596/3100. The times they are a-changing. But not always for the best. Panini did an alright job here, and their insert concepts seem to be getting better, but it’s still pretty glaring when your insert doesn’t have the jersey swatch or auto sticker…even though there is a convenient slot waiting for them. I also don’t really get the NFL/Team logo cards. Let’s just make it glaringly obvious there is a better version of this card out there that I’ll never pull. I will say the Legends of the Fall backdrop is cool. I’m a sucker for awesome sunsets. The rookie Aspirations are a nice set. Pretty basic design and die-cut. I like that.

3rd Down, Collation: In a word: adequate. I didn’t pull a single duplicate, which was good. Granted, I would be livid if I had some with just 100 cards in a box. I also got all of the “hits” I was told I’d get, so that is a plus. My only concern here would be the lack of true rookie cards. Like it or not, the RC still rules the day. And in a product where I’m only pulling 4 RCs, there’s just not a lot of ruling going on. I’d rather them not serial number the crap out of the product and just print more rookie cards. Maybe they wouldn’t be worth as much that way, but when most of them are selling for less than $2, I don’t think it really matters. So called quality is not always preferred to quantity. Ask the folks who buy Score.

4th Down, Overall Value: In a word: solid. I didn’t pull that one showcase card, but I feel like most people don’t. If every box supplied a showcase worthy gem, we’d need an awfully large showcase. But I would say I’m fairly happy with the results. I don’t expect that I’ll be able to recover my entire $93 on the secondary market, but it was certainly fun opening a product that reminded me of younger days. I also have some very nice cards to put into team lots now, so folks don’t wind up getting 25 lame base cards for $5. I try to add value to each lot, and these will certainly help.

RED ZONE RESULTS: FIELD GOAL I don’t know what else to give this box. I already admitted earlier this year that I’ll probably be more generous with my red zone results this year than in the past, so this is par for the course I suppose. It’s also becoming tough to give incredibly unique final results in this template. Maybe if I had a 0-100 scale I could be more specific, but for now, this product gets lumped in with the rest of the boxes that could survive in the Big Ten. A lot of potential, a little flash, definitely some hype, but at the end of the day, it just settles for a field goal so it can get back on defense.

NEXT UP: 2011 Score