Retro Review – A Fashionably Great Set!

I have never claimed to be any sort of fashionista. Let’s go ahead and get that out of the way. This has become an even more accurate statement since I hit the age of 40. I choose comfort over style every time my wife lets me. That doesn’t mean that I always look like I’m thrown away but I am a shorts and t-shirt guy 90% of the time. I do try to match when I can but my days of having to have something that is “hot” or a current fad are behind me. I am who I am at this point and you can take me or leave me. “The clothes don’t make the man” has become a quote I hold near and dear at this point in my life.This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a time when I wanted to be with the “in crowd”. I remember having to have the right design on my Trapper Keeper and having to have fancy batting gloves that made me stand out. Yeah, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, your humble blogger was just like all the other teens wanting to be seen as popular. If you are 30, you probably saw the tail end of the fads I am talking about. If you are younger than that, you probably didn’t get to experience these except in the ironic or hipster sense. By that, I mean the way that old fads come back around and are seen as a novelty or gimmick. People my age lived these fads and they were a part of our life and culture. Let’s go through a few of them.

Fanny Packs
These were also called Belly Bags by some folks. These were actually fairly functional as a clothing item for a kid because you could put some of your toys or collectibles in them instead of your pockets. I remember carrying Nintendo games in mine because we would trade at school. These came in all shapes and sizes and could be extremely generic or could have some cool design from Bugle Boy. There were Ninja Turtles, Alf, Sports Teams and even music groups like the one in the photo. There was also a style that came with wearing them. You could wear them on your hip or on your back or slung across your shoulder if you didn’t want to wear it like the old folks did. I still occasionally see these in my travels and my wife even got one for our last trip to Disney World; again, for the functionality. The fanny pack gets a bad rap in today’s society in my opinion.

The only thing that could come in a wilder design than your fanny pack was the classic JAMS Shorts we all had in the late 80’s. These were the shorts that all kids had, whether they wanted them or not. They came in the wildest designs you can imagine. When you have the time, just google JAMS Shorts and see just how nutty we were as kids. My particular favorites came in a cargo style because again, I needed that pocket space for all of my toys. You could put on any shirt you had in your closet and it would match and not match the shorts at the same time. But fortunately, these weren’t the only options when it came to cool shorts back in the day.

These were especially sexy on the chicks but guys would wear these as well. I think I had the exact pair that is pictured above. Wearing these was as close to feeling naked in public but not getting arrested as you could feel. As I got older, they shifted to boxers or something I slept in but in the early days, these were standard going out shorts. You could play basketball, go swimming and even go to the local Wal-Mart all in the same day and never have to change your shorts!

Converse All-Star’s
The key to the JAMS and the Umbros was being able to match them up with Converse All-Stars, or Chuck Taylors. These have been around since the 20’s but by the time the 80’s rolled around; we were wearing every color in the rainbow. The brighter they were, the better. I owned them in neon orange, neon green, yellow and red as I remember. I may have owned others but I remember these specifically. I also remember feeling cool when I saw Ferris Bueller wearing them on his day off. They phased out of the NBA in the early 80’s but they continued to be hot commodities to the general public. I would have never worn them playing basketball though because they gave your ankles less than zero support. Once basketball became a heavy part of my life, I had to find something a little more supportive.

Reebok Pumps
In 1989, I was 12 and starting to play basketball daily. A new shoe hit the scene that year called the Reebok Pump. This was an athletic high top that you could inflate using a small basketball designed pump on the tongue of the shoe. You could put these on and pump them up until they were really snug on your ankles. I suppose it was for support but many people used them in an effort to jump higher. Dee Brown famously pumped his reeboks right before a dunk when he won the slam dunk contest in 1991. Well, they didn’t make you jump any higher but you couldn’t tell me that back then.

Tight Roll Jeans
Of course, if you owned sweet looking sneakers, you didn’t want a pair of jeans covering them up. So our answer to that was the tight roll. Trust me when I say that this was an art form. There were people who were famous at my school for their ability to tight roll jeans. I was ok but I was never a Jared McKenzie when it came to the tight roll. If we were going to a party, you might even ask one of the legends to tight roll it for you! This was especially crucial if you were wearing acid wash jeans. I have tried to tight roll my jeans in the recent past and I really suck at it now.

Duck Head
Along with the pants and shoes, you had to find a shirt to wear. I probably owned 10 of these shirts in various colors. The cool thing about the shirt was that it matched every design of the Duck Head shorts that were also very popular at the time. I had so many different shades of their shorts but this shirt is all I needed. I’d be willing to bet that there is at least a 12 month stretch in my teens where I wasn’t seen without wearing something made by Duck Head. This is one of the fads I look back on and want to take back. The pastel colors of Duck Head have not aged well.

Wind Suits
When I wasn’t wearing JAMS, Duck Head or Tight Rolled Jeans, I was sporting a wind suit. This was more of a fall item that we wore to football games and to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving. The wind suit was extremely comfortable and came with matching top and bottom. I wasn’t old enough to match that up with a girlfriend and for that I am thankful. I would not want any photos floating around out there of Dub and an old flame in matching wind suits. This picture may look silly to you but trust me; these things were HUGE when I was about 14.

Starter Jacket
When fall turned to winter, I jumped out of the wind suit and got a little warmer with a starter jacket. This jacket was one of the most amazing innovations in clothing since the loin cloth. They had them for all sports, with team colors, logos and league insignias. I remember having a Falcons jacket for a while but the most popular in my high school in the early 90’s was the Charlotte Hornet Starter Jacket. Remember, the Hornets were established in 1988 and by the time I got to high school, they had Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning and Kendall Gill. I saw that purple and teal every where I went! I couldn’t find a soul wearing a red and yellow Hawks jacket but there were tons of these. I remember football players wearing them a lot on the sideline too when it was snowing. I’m telling you, this was a great jacket!

Cell Phone
While not a clothing option, I think it’s important to remember the old cell phone from my youth. I remember Zack Morris having one of these on Saved by the Bell and kids were losing their minds! This phone was bigger than the phone in our home but you could take it anywhere and call from it. The first cell phone I had was the bag phone in my vehicle but this beautiful piece of technology was all the rage when I was too young for phones. Now my 10 year old daughter can text her friend. When I was 10, it took me 2 minutes to dial the rotary at my house. I guess it could be worse. I think Scott Berger used to have to be patched through to an operator like Andy Griffith. I kid because I care!By now you may be asking what any of this has to do with sports cards. Well, you are about to find out that this information is extremely pertinent to the box I am ripping. In 1991, a football card product hit the scene that hammers at the 90’s clothing scene. Pro Line produced a 300 card base set with NFL players in somewhat of a “glamour shot” style without the manufactured haze. They were all wearing some form of workout or casual gear with their team logos on them. They were either holding a football or leaning against weights or just standing on the stairs of the stadium. The set is also known as the first football set to include random autographs in packs.The cards were full bleed on the front and had a nice gloss – but not too much- balance. The backs of the cards included another inset photo and only a quote from the player. There were no statistics or even player information. There were a couple inserts that included Payne Stewart and Santa Claus and these could be found as autographs as well. Pulling a Santa auto might be as fun as unearthing a ’91 Donruss Elite. There was also a “Wives Set” that included 7 player’s wives. Who can forget that Jennifer Montana card? I collected these pretty heavily back in ’91 but I am about to take my first stab at ripping a full box. Now you see that the above discussion about clothing was necessary to prepare you for the styles you are about to see.

I knew right away I was going to enjoy this as I pulled this Webster Slaughter in the first pack!

I also pulled this Marcus Dupree pretty quickly too! Remember the “30 for 30: The Best That Never Was”?

The Wives
The full Wives Subset was in the box. From top left we have; Jennifer Montana, Babette Kosar, Janet Elway, Michelle Oates, Toni Lipps, Stacey O’Brien and Phylicia Rashad.

Retired Players
The retired players in the set are in this photo. Orenthal James Simpson is the top left. There are some autos floating around out there in unopened boxes of “Juice”. I always loved this Walter Payton card.

All of the coaches are present in this set. I only took a photo of the legendary coaches. One of these is a rookie card of one of the greatest coaches ever!

I pulled 10 legendary quarterbacks along with many other not so legendary guys. Steve Young is still a fresh face in this set and Troy Aikman is FEELING THE BURN! I’m always happy to add another Randall Cunningham (QB Eagles) to the PC.

Running Backs
The stable of running backs available here take me straight back to Super Tecmo Bowl. This list includes Christian Okoye, Barry Word, Ickey Woods, James Brooks, Roger Craig and others.

Wide Receivers
There were some solid wide receivers in 1991. My personal favorite was Andre Rison but Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin and Andre Reed were amazing! I had to include Ed McCaffrey here too. Steve Largent was technically done playing but I felt like including him with the wide receivers.

There is a lot of defensive talent (and ferocity) in this photo. I remember David Fulcher dominating the Bengals defensive backfield and Ronnie Lott is an all time legend. The defensive line had Howie Long, Bruce Smith and Derrick Thomas. Meanwhile, the linebackers included LT, Seau and Kevin Greene! This was 90’s football at its finest!

Pro Line was the licensed carrier of Zubaz in the NFL and the cards did not disappoint. There really isn’t much to say. Just peruse the cards!

The Autograph
I was fortunate enough to pull an autograph. I can’t really find the insertion ratios but in 1992 they advertised one per box. Perhaps 1991 was the same. This was an autograph of Philadelphia Running Back, Keith Byars. The interesting part about Pro Line Autographs is that they are autographed on the back of the card as opposed to the front. The authenticity is a stamp in the lower right corner too as opposed to a statement from the company as is customary now.This set brings back a lot of memories for me. 1991 was a great time to be a football fan. There were some awesome video games, highlight tapes were very popular and there were some true legends playing in the league. I missed one card from building the entire set with this box. I missed Card #42, Cleveland Gary, somehow. I’m sure I can pick it up on the Bay for next to nothing. I also love the autograph cards in this set. The box was $20 shipped and really pretty hard to beat on value. It can be quirky to some and I get that but it was indicative of the time we lived in. Card companies were looking for something different and they found it with this one. I have to give this one a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. Very cheap box, superstars, Zubaz and an autograph? What else do you need from a box of football cards in 1991?


Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

5 thoughts on “Retro Review – A Fashionably Great Set!”

  1. Oh man… I can’t help but cringe when I see those zebra pants. My buddy and his motorcycle buddies all wore them. I’m so glad I didn’t ever buy into them. Now fanny packs… that’s another story. I was big into wearing one while skiing. I’d throw my walkman, tissue, and some snacks into mine and fly down the slopes with my head held high… like I was the coolest kid in town. This past year, two of my students rocked fanny packs to school. Couldn’t believe my eyes. Thank goodness… none of my students are wearing those zebra pants. Yet.

    P.S. Cool box break. That Byars is sweet! Solid NFLer.

    1. Hopefully the Zubaz stay in the past. I like when 90’s trends make a comeback but that one can stay where it is.

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  2. I remember visiting my cousins in Birmingham and Duck Head was popular. Of course I got a couple of things. When I got back to West Virginia and wore them into public, I was ridiculed mercilessly. I never wore them again. That brand never “made” it to WV. I don’t remember seeing another person wearing the brand.

    1. I guess it was just a southern fad. Somebody on twitter said they hadn’t heard of it in Vermont either. Wish it had been a Florida thing only….

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