It’s been a really hectic few weeks for me. It’s all been a good kind of hectic but it has definitely kept me off of the blog lately. I have been able to jump on YouTube a couple of times for some breaks but haven’t been able to just sit down and enjoy some old junk wax. I started writing a weekly article with Bags Unlimited a few weeks ago and have one other surprise in the works that I can’t reveal for a few more days. This one coming is huge for me personally and I can’t wait to talk about it. Even now as I’m finally sitting down to take a trip down memory lane, my mind is partially off in the distance planning and thinking about my next project. While that’s good for me personally and is giving me a chance to reach more people, it has no doubt made the blog suffer recently. For that I apologize and hope today’s old school football set will help make some amends.
But before we get to the football cards, let’s talk about football itself. I miss playing football as a kid. I didn’t get a chance to play football in high school for several reasons. Maybe they are excuses more than reasons but it just wasn’t meant to be for me. I really enjoyed playing the sport and I think I know the sport and played just good enough to have been able to make some additional memories in high school. But I experienced a major head injury when I was a 3 year old and since that day, any hit I take beyond a normal tackle has resulted in splitting headaches. I was able to play when I was young but I almost always had a headache at the end of the game. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t very good for me but what did we know about head injuries in 1985?That’s not the only reason I didn’t play high school football. I was also a non-imposing, solid 5’9”, 165 lbs in high school. At my high school (Mitchell-Baker), that wasn’t going to translate into football player unless I ran about a 4.5/40 or better. That wasn’t happening either. My high school won the state title in 1989 and 1992 and was 52-3 during that span. We had a 6’8 QB that went on to play basketball at NC State. We had a pair of inside linebackers that were both 6’5, 250 and were brothers. Our running back was an absolute monster and we had two DB’s that would knock a player’s chinstrap off with their unbelievable hits. I just wasn’t blessed with the size, strength or speed to hang with that type of athlete. I tried, believe me, but our high school team was built like a junior college team.Let me give you a little perspective. In 1992, we were 14-0 when we met up with Washington County in the State Championship, who was 14-0 as well. That team called their home field “The House of Pain” and had a linebacker by the name of Takeo Spikes (Auburn), a running back named Robert Edwards (Georgia) and his brother Terrance (Georgia) who played wide receiver. All three of these players dominated in the SEC and made appearances in the NFL. Mitchell-Baker beat that Washington County team 27-10 and the game was never really close. We had 6 AJC All-State players on that team with 4 of those being 1st teamers. As much as I was the Barry Sanders of my front yard on Saturday’s with my friends; those friends weren’t 6’4, 280 pound linemen chasing me either.I had one moment in high school that made me think I could have fit in but it was short lived. It was a major moment for me though. I was in a P.E. class and we were playing flag football on the practice field. Most of the students in the class were average dudes like me, but for the importance of this story, our starting QB and one of our DB’s was also in my class. Our P.E. teacher was one of the coaches and the head coach was there watching. During the game, I ran about a 12 yard inside slant and caught a touchdown from the starting QB and I was being covered (loosely) by the starting DB. So technically, in my high school career, I caught a TD pass from our QB who lost 2 games ever as a starter. So I guess I knew how to play but I would have never been able to sustain that over a full game or especially a full season.Now that I’ve covered how good my high school team was, I will tell you about the undefeated team that I did play on. This team was made up of 2 players; me and my cousin Dusty. In 1990, we started a tradition of playing football at my Granddaddy’s house on Christmas night that lasted 4 consecutive years. Our opponent was Dusty’s brothers, Corey and Jared, who were my age. Dusty was 2 years older than us but he was also the smallest of all 4, so the teams were matched up pretty evenly. For those years, the meal and gifts took an absolute backseat to that football game. We would only get socks and fruiters from the grandparents anyway.The field was about 20 yards long and the same width or shorter. There was a slightly raised concrete driveway that represented one end zone. At the other end of the field was a dirt driveway that was in total darkness. Both end zones presented major hazards for us as kids. The sidelines were boxwood bushes that we would plow into on one side of the field and the other boundary was protected by a dogwood tree and a big saw grass (pampas) bush. If those obstacles weren’t enough, there was also a water meter and surface rock in the field of play. The ground was usually hard from the cold and there were pitfalls all around us but we weren’t fazed. I guess I should also mention that there was a lone flood light on one corner of the house that lit the field, very poorly.Dusty and I won that first matchup and to be honest it was a bit of a surprise. Jared actually played on his high school team and Corey was a short rock of a running back that was a nightmare to tackle. Turnovers and field obstacles all met in the perfect storm to lead us to victory that night. In ’91, we would win again and we started bragging during the middle of the year. In ’92, Corey and Jared started practicing plays in the front yard on Thanksgiving and Dusty saw them, which gave us even more ammunition to pick at them about. We won again, even though Corey and Jared wore matching bandanas like Rico Suave. By ’94, I had grown a little bigger (beefier) than the others and was becoming harder to bring down. We won in ’94 rather handily and the series fell apart after that.We still gather for Christmas and even today, we talk about striking up what we call “The 5th Annual”. We are all too old and would probably break something if we played but I look back on those days so fondly. We spent a lot of time playing football together, whether in the yard or on Nintendo. We also all collected cards as well and 1990 was a pretty solid year for Topps Football. We strived to collect all the players that we used on Super Tecmo and we would emulate them in the yard. So when my buddy Shane Salmonson found this box of ’90 Topps at his LCS for $4 and offered to pick it up for me, I didn’t hesitate on having him snag it.In classic Topps fashion, ’90 Football came with 36 packs per box and a stick of bubble gum that has now become a white powdery unknown substance. The packs were a whopping .50 cents per pack and there were 15 cards per. The insert in the set was the “Special 1,000 Yard Club” glossy card. The wax packs were some of my favorites as they had the generic QB with bright and bold colors about to make a pass. This pack just SCREAMS 1990. The design was decent with a white border and green striped box in the top left of the card. The player name was at the bottom with the team name and position and the Topps logo was in the bottom left corner with a football inset. The back of the card was a varying pinkish red color with black type for the stats and player info. They were nothing special but they are very nostalgic.My main guys in 1990 were Bo, Christian Okoye, Randall Cunningham, Barry Sanders and David Fulcher based on my Tecmo teams. But I liked a wide range of players back then. That was the NFL of my youth and I recall a laundry list of players that were “favorites”. Let’s see what this 27 year old box held.
There were some big names found in the All-Pro group, which is not a big surprise. Jerry Rice, Sanders, Reggie White, Okoye, Joe Montana and LT led the way with this group. I also pulled my David Fulcher card here.
The big get in 1990 was this Jeff George rookie. The Falcons traded George (or the pick) to the Indianapolis Colts for Andre Rison. That worked out for the Falcons a lot more than the Colts. The long term big get in this group was obviously a very young looking Junior Seau.
The big names here are obviously Deion Sanders and Troy Aikman, but Dave Meggett and Steve Atwater made pretty good names for themselves at the pro level. Rodney Peete didn’t exactly pan out but wasn’t terrible either.
Aikman and Montana were the headliners in this group. Flipper Anderson made an appearance in the Record Breaker set and 1,000 Yard Club. He was a very underrated receiver in the late 80’s. And of course, Kevin Butler is a Damn Good Dawg from UGA!
I pulled my other favorites here with Cunningham and Bo. I also added Ickey Woods and Thurman Thomas who made noise on Super Tecmo. I was always a fan of Warren Moon and would like to add an auto to the PC one day.
These were THE GUYS back in the late 80’s. They were sack masters and ball hawks for their teams and Dent is was a huge part of the ’85 Bears Championship. I was always partial to Joey Browner because of his great first name but he was a very good NFL player.
1,000 Yard Club
This is really a who’s who of offensive studs in the NFL in 1989. It’s easy to forget John Taylor and Roger Craig when you have Jerry Rice but this insert set highlights just how prolific the 49’ers were back in the day. They had 3 representatives who reached 1,000 yards.
In late 80’s and early 90’s Topps fashion, they had 4 cards on the box bottom. These were the players of the week for Weeks 5-8. I remember how good Jerome Brown was when he was lined up on the opposite end of the line from Reggie White. Brown lost his life, along with his 12 year old nephew, in a car crash in 1992 at the age of 27. In additional bad news, his son Dunell was sentenced to 25 years in prison for second degree murder in 2012. He was also 27.
Oh and I didn’t forget about my buddy Scott Berger!
This was a pretty sweet trip back to the NFL that raised me. I would have loved to have played fantasy football back then too! I will forever be a fan of this NFL era and there are so many true stars that we will never see again like these found here. As for the set, there really isn’t anything fancy about the design and the box includes a ton of kickers and offensive linemen that water it down. But the Super Rookie’s of Deion and Aikman were very sweet and a Junior Seau Draft Pick card is always nice to add. If I ever started one of those autographed set quests, this would be on my short list. Overall, I would give the set a “4”. The price is nice and the stars are abundant. The design was a little behind Action Packed, Pro Set and Upper Deck by 1990 but I like that they stuck with the wax pack a little longer than the others. And a price of $4 is just icing on the cake!
What say you about 1990 Topps Football?