HOF Spotlight: Norm Van Brocklin


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: Bill Hewitt


Bill Hewitt
Name: Bill Hewitt
Position: End
Pro Career: 1932 – 1939, 1943
Team Affiliation(s): Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Phil-Pitt
College: Michigan
Induction Class: 1971, posthumously
HOF Profile: Click Here

Brief Bio: Of all of the original “iron men” of the gridiron, Bill Hewitt was perhaps the trickiest. He was consistently one of the fastest defensive ends off the line, giving him the nickname “The Offside Kid,” constantly foiled the opposition’s offensive schemes, and regularly devised trick plays of his own. Perhaps the most famous involved a jump pass from fullback and fellow HOFer Bronko Nagurski that Hewitt in turn lateraled to another end, Bill Karr, who would then race to the end zone. It was this play that lifted the Bears over the Giants in the first ever NFL Championship game in 1933. Hewitt was a force from day 1 in the league, winning All-NFL honors as a rookie. He went on to win the same honor four more times. Despite his standout play on both sides of the ball, Hewitt is perhaps best known for his stubborn refusal to wear a helmet. He only conceded for his final year in the league when a new NFL rulebook mandated he don the protective gear.

Career Stats: 101 games played; 103 receptions; 1,638 receiving yards; 23 receiving TDs; 3 passing TDs; 1 rushing TD; 1 fumble recovery for TD.

1985 Football Immortals #53

Featured Card: 1985 Football Immortals #53. Despite his stellar playing career, Bill Hewitt does not have an official rookie card, mostly due to his career ending in the pre-WWII era, long before football card sets were an annual expectation. There have been several HOF-focused, junk wax era sets produced, with this Football Immortals being one of the first. These cards are typically in the $1 bin or can be found in lots for very minimal prices. Hewitt does not appear to have been included in any of the modern cut signature or other various high-end legends sets, so your options are pretty limited for completing a HOF inductee collection.

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

I Got Id


This one is more courtesy of a buddy of mine, but I can’t say I totally disagree.

As many of you will recall, this past summer was one of turmoil for the NFL. Certainly not as bad as that of the NBA, but tumultuous nonetheless. Once the lockout broke and pre-season activities ramped up, news of player trades and signings was constantly streaming. The Eagles particularly seemed interested in building a team in three weeks and assembled what many dubbed a Dream Team of free agents and high profile trades in very little time. It seemed a no brainer that they would dominate the NFC East and run straight to the Super Bowl.

But then they started playing actual games. And sucked. And gave rise to this Pearl Jam/card pairing:

Title: I Got Id
Album: Merkin Ball EP (A-Side)
Correlation: You might need to be a bit of a Pearl Jam aficionado to get this one. “I Got Id” is already a bit of an odd song in that it only appears on this single EP and only features two actual Pearl Jam members (Eddie Vedder on vocals and Jack Irons on drums) as it was recorded with Neil Young during his Mirror Ball sessions (on which all members of Pearl Jam were heavily involved). The other odd part is that this song usually goes by a different title amongst the band and fans: I Got Shit. And THAT is where the correlation lies. The Eagles thought the 2011 season would be wildly successful after assembling what they thought was an all-star squad. But once games actually started, it turns out they just had shit. I suppose you could also argue that the unrequited love theme of the lyrics relates to the fans in that they constantly support and root for a team that just never pulls it all together for a championship season.

As a side session single during the height of Pearl Jam’s attempt to shy from the spotlight, there is no official music video for “I Got Id”. But here is a fan-shot live video from a Philadelphia show. This was actually filmed during the very last event in the famed Philadelphia Spectrum, so maybe a 76ers or Flyers card would have been more appropriate, but work with me here.

Oh, and if you’re an Eagles fan and this post angers you: feel free to submit an official complaint when you’re celebrating your first Super Bowl victory. Whenever that may be…

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.

HOF Spotlight: Greasy Neale


Greasy Neale
Name: Earle “Greasy” Neale
Position: Coach
Pro Career: 1941 – 1950
Team Affiliation(s): Philadelphia Eagles
College: West Virginia Wesleyan
Induction Class: 1969
HOF Profile: Click Here

Brief Bio: One of the overlooked coaching greats of all time, Earle “Greasy” Neale turned the second-tier Philadelphia Eagles franchise into an NFL perennial power in the 1940s. When Neale took over as head coach of the struggling Eagle club in 1941, it took just three years before they began finishing second place in the Eastern Division and just another three years before they won their first divisional crown. His offense was led by quarterback Tommy Thompson and future HOFers Pete Pihos and Steve Van Buren. His legendary “Eagle Defense,” the predecessor to the still popular 4-3 formation, was stifling and helped win two straight NFL championships via shutouts; the only team to ever do so. Before his NFL coaching days, Neale was a long-time college coaching great, taking his Washington and Jefferson squad to the 1922 Rose Bowl. He was also a gifted athlete and played on Jim Thorpe’s pre-WWI Canton Bulldog team and was an outfielder who batted .357 for the Cincinnati Reds in the infamous “Black Sox” World Series of 1919.

Career Stats: 66-44-5 coaching record (0.596 winning pct)

1990 Swell Greats #55

Featured Card: 1990 Swell Greats #55. As a coach in the 1940s, Greasy Neale never had a true rookie card and no actual vintage football cards at all. He does, however, have numerous modern cards from legends-themed sets, such as the 1990 Swell Greats pictured, that can generally be found for less than $5. If your collection is not football exclusive, Neale does have some baseball cards from his playing days with the Reds, including a few WWI-era postcards, as well as several modern cards from legend-themed sets such as the 1981 and 1992 Conlon Collection sets.

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

HOF Spotlight: Alex Wojciechowicz


Name: Alex Wojciechowicz
Position: Center, Linebacker
Pro Career: 1938 – 1950
Team Affiliation(s): Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles
College: Fordham
Induction Class: 1968

Brief Bio: One of the game’s last true ironmen, Alex Wojciechowicz was a dominant presence on offense and defense for much of his 13-year career. Wojciechowicz was a two-time All-American at Fordham and played alongside future HOF coach Vince Lombardi before becoming the Detroit Lions’ first draft pick in 1938. During his career, the Lions slipped from being a perennial power to a bottom dweller in the NFL, but Wojciechowicz played with the heart of a champion every game. He was one of the game’s greatest centers of all time with his singularly wide stance and was a defensive wizard with exceptional range for a linebacker. During the 1946 season, Wojiechowicz was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles and was a major defensive contributor to their championship runs in 1948 and 1949. Wojciechowicz may have been a gridiron terror on the field, but he was a fun-loving comic in the locker room and was a teammate favorite for many over his illustrious career.

Career Stats: 134 games played; 19 INTs; 1 INT TD

1948 Bowman #61

Featured Card: 1948 Bowman #61. Alex Wojciechowicz may have been in the winter of his playing career by the time his rookie card was released, but he was still playing championship caliber defense for a championship contender team in the Philadelphia Eagles. His 1948 Bowman rookie card carries a trivial Beckett value of $150 while current eBay listings range from $36.15 to $225. Oddly enough, there is no readily apparent grading premium as the only PSA graded card (a 6.5) is listed for $155 although the two more expensive listings appear to be raw. Wojciechowicz was not featured in the more colorful 1948 Leaf set but does have another vintage card with his 1955 Topps All-American. He has also been included in several junk wax HOF-focused sets and modern legends sets, including cut signatures, if those are more your style.

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

Draft Buzz


In line for tonight’s big NFL news: Who will be the 2011 #1 overall draft pick? Will Cam Newton be it? Will the #1 moniker go to a defensive player? Will the top draft pick ever play in the NFL?


No, this isn’t a reference to the still looming NFL/players labor conflict. This is a reference to a much simpler time. The 2011 NFL Draft, the 76th of its kind, stands in stark contrast with the 1936 NFL Draft, the 1st of its kind. Today, the Draft is huge and is surrounded by constant news coverage, in-depth analysis, and year-round predictions. The 1936 Draft was a little different. Yes, there were nine rounds, but there were also only nine picks in each round. It was not held in Radio City Music Hall, or even in New York City, and there was no television coverage. And with teams like the Pirates and Dodgers, the direct correlation to the modern Draft continues to fade in oblivion.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the 1936 Draft and the modern Draft is that rather than signing a huge contract with millions of dollars guaranteed, the #1 overall draft pick, the very first college player ever drafted, never even signed an NFL contract. The Philadelphia Eagles used the first ever draft pick to select Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago. Berwanger was a star multi-sport athlete for the Maroons and even won the first ever Downtown Athletic Club Trophy (renamed the Heisman Trophy the following year). But Berwanger indicated he had no desire to play for the Eagles and his rights were consequently traded to the Chicago Bears. Even Hall of Fame owner-coach George Halas was unable to convince Berwanger to play professional football. Berwanger went on to become a sports writer and eventually a manufacturer of plastic automobile parts.

There have been plenty of other top draft pick busts in the past 75 years. Will tonight’s #1 pick be a future Hall of Famer? Will he ever start a game? At least in 1936, the Eagles did not blow millions of dollars to find out like the Panthers may do tonight.