|1963 Topps #44 Dave "Deacon" Jones RC 1970 Topps #100 Roman Gabriel
Welcome to Nowbatting19's "Gridiron Greats" Page. On this page we will feature vintage football cards and maybe even a few "modern" issues as well. Football cards have been around for some time.
One of the most famous early football issues was by National Chicle in the 1930's. Bowman Gum, Leaf, and of course Topps also produced many football issues. Some can be quite valuable. For instance
Joe Namath's 1965 Topps rookie card easily fetches four figures in NM condition. Rookie cards of Jim Brown, Bart Starr, and Johnny Unitas (to name a few) can cost a few hundred dollars each depending
on condition. But in general, football cards, especially 1960's through 1980's Topps cards are pretty affordable. Here are some terrific football cards for your viewing pleasure! This page is dedicated to
my Uncle John Math, who worked as a long time NFL Scout and later Director of Player Personnel (Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers). Enjoy! Tim
| 1958 Topps #62 Jim "Jimmy" Brown (Rookie card)
One of the most desired cards from the 1950's is this 1958 Topps #62 Jim Brown rookie card. Brown set the standard for all great running backs, before and after. He had a short career but
became the game's all-time leading running back. Considered by many still as the greatest back EVER. Jim Brown quite football to pursue other interests, including acting. One of his best movies was
"The Dirty Dozen" starring Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and of course, Jim Brown. If you have never seen it you should check it out. If you are a football collector, a Jim Brown card is a "must have" in
your collection. For affordable alternatives to his 1958 rookie card, check out some of his 1960's Topps and Philadelphia Gum cards. Also Post cereal issued a Jim Brown card in their 1962 effort.
These cards were cut from cereal boxes and can be difficult to find in nice shape.
1976 Topps #148 Walter Payton (Rookie card)
One of the great running backs to top Jim Brown's all time records was "Sweetness," the great Walter Payton. Payton played his entire career with the Chicago Bears and broke about every record a
running back could have. He was marvelous to watch. It is sad he died so young but he did enjoy a long Hall Of Fame career and is remembered not only as a great back but a terrific human being as
well. This 1976 Topps #148 Walter Payton rookie card is one of the most expensive cards from the 1970's.
1962 Topps #1 Johnny Unitas
When I was a kid, the first football name I remember is Johnny Unitas. Johnny Unitas, during his career was considered by most to the be the best quarterback EVER! In fact, Topps Chewing Gum Inc. thought so highly of
Unitas that they gave him the number one card (card #1 to lead off a set, considered an honor) several times during his career. I think the 1960-1963 Topps cards all featured Johnny U. as the #1 card. This 1962 Topps #1
Johnny Unitas card is a beauty. The 1962 Topps cards featured black borders which showed the slightest bits of wear. Also notorious was Topps' centering issues; finding a well centered example is a big plus. This is my
favorite Johnny Unitas card.
1963 Topps #1 John Unitas
Here is another example of a #1 Johnny Unitas card, from the 1963 Topps set. The 1963 Topps set was numbered by teams. So card number one featured Unitas and the numbers in sequence after
that were Baltimore Colts players, then the next team, etc. The cards also featured bright colored borders, and again teams used the same colors. So they were easy to sort in a shoebox or wherever you
stored your collection.
1971 Topps #260 O.J. Simpson
Ok, ok. So I put an O.J. Simpson card on here. I didn't really want too either. But back in the 1970's there was one big name in football and that name was O.J. Simpson. Kind of like in basketball, "Dr. J." was the big name in hoops
when he first came on the scene. I am not going to go too much into Simpson. I do remember once driving back from the beach on Sunset Blvd. and O.J. was driving a Rolls Royce convertible with the top down and we followed him
home and said hi. He was a bit alarmed at first but we didn't ask him for anything. We just wanted to say hi to the "Juice." And he waved and said "hey fellas." But that was when he was O.J. During and after his football career,
Simpson dabbled in movies (notably "Mother, Jugs, and Speed," and "The Naked Gun"). Then the nasty business in Brentwood and "if the glove don't fit, you must acquit!" You all know the sordid details. Now he is almost a cartoon
character with all the trouble and antics he gets himself into. I can care less about him today. The 1971 Topps football cards are super colorful with red and blue borders. One of my favorite sets and maybe the best set issued by Topps
in the seventies. Btw, Johnny Unitas also led off this set as well as the #1 card. As for O.J., this is actually not his rookie card but his 2nd year card. Simpson's rookie card, which has plummeted in value was included in the 1970 Topps
2009 O.J Update: O.J is once again in the slammer. No, not for murder, but for supposedly trying to "steal" back some of his memorabilia. It's just too incredible for words. And while I believe the sentence he received was harsh for the
crime; it might be a fitting close to the one of the most absurd, unbelievable, surreal, horrific, and just plain ridiculous sports sagas of all time.
1970 Topps Super Glossy #9 Bart Starr
Bart Starr is beloved by Packers fans, playing his entire career with Green Bay and winning Championships along the way with Ernie Lombardi's great Packers teams. He may even be more beloved than Brett Favre, who is currently
contemplating another comeback with the Vikings now. Phooey on that. Starr was near the end of his career when this card was issued in 1970. The 1970 Topps Super Glossy cards were inserted in packs of regular 1970 Topps
football cards, one per pack. These are wonderful cards and affordable. I think this graded 1970 Topps Super Glossy #9 Bart Starr card cost me about $10 or $15. To me a bargain when you consider it costs about ten dollars to
have a card graded to begin with. Starr's last card is in the 1971 Topps set.
1962 Topps #88 Roman Gabriel (Rookie card) SP
Roman Gabriel was the star quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams during the 1960's and early 1970's. This is his rookie card from the 1962 Topps Football set. The card was also short-printed so it
is a fairly expensive card, especially in high grade. Note the smaller black & white photograph; it is not Roman Gabriel but Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle of the New York Giants (number 17).
The error was never corrected.
1972 Topps #343 Joe Namath Pro Action (In Action)
While this may not look like much of a card (note that there are no team logos on the player's helmets; Topps airbrushed them out probably due to licensing) this is actually one of Joe Namath's most expensive cards. The one card
everybody wants of "Broadway" Joe is his 1965 Topps rookie card but that card is very scarce and expensive for most. Namath's 1970's Topps cards are very affordable, his last two cards from 1972 and 1973 sell for about
$20-$25 each in NM condition. However this 1972 Topps #343 Joe Namath "Pro Action" card was included in the scarce high number series and as such is fairly expensive. A PSA 8 NM-MT graded example sells for
1962 Post Cereal #184 Francis Tarkenton
At one time, Fran Tarkenton was the all-time passing leader, surpassing even the great Johnny Unitas. Tarkenton was famous not only for his aerial assaults, but for his scrambling abilities as well. So was Archie Manning, but
Manning (now Sr.) had the misfortune of playing for some very bad New Orleans Saints teams in the 1970's. Tarkenton led the Vikings to 4 Super Bowls but never won a Championship. This doesn't change the fact that he is a Hall
Of Fame quarterback. Tarkenton's rookie card is considered his 1962 Topps card (#) but also issued the same year was this 1962 Post Cereal #184 Francis Tarkenton card on the backs of Post Cereal boxes. Post also
produced baseball trading cards from 1961-63, but only issued these NFL cards in 1962. The set included many stars like Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, etc., and also included many short printed cards which are in some
cases even more expensive than the star cards. The above card, professionally graded by PSA as MINT 9 is hand cut from the box. It is very rare to find hand cut Post cereal cards in high grade; most likely this card was cut more
recently from an uncut box panel. Most kids cutting these out in 1962 would not have done a MINT cutting job and then to have no wear on it from handling, etc. There is no way some kid cut this out. Anyway an expensive card in
high grade like this; the seller is asking close to a thousand dollars for this PSA graded example.
1935 National Chicle #9 Knute Rockne
One of the most popular (and expensive) football cards ever is this 1935 National Chicle #9 Knute Rockne of Notre Dame fame. The 1935 National Chicle football set is considered to be the
first mainstream football trading card set issued. "Win one for the Gipper!!!"
1965 Topps #122 Joe Namath (Rookie card) SP
Ok, back to "Broadway Joe." When you look at Joe Namath's career passing statistics you may wonder why he is in the Hall of Fame, especially when compared to today's QB numbers. But Namath was instrumental in
bringing the American Football League some legitimacy and with the help of players like Namath, George Blanda, and Jack Kemp the AFL eventually merged with the NFL. It certainly didn't hurt Namath that the underdog
upstart New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts for the 1968 Super Bowl either. Namath was the first to pass for over 4000 yards (4007 in 1967) in a season (14 games) and took part in one of the greatest QB duels of
all-time in 1972. On September 2 versus Baltimore, Namath and Colts QB legend Johnny Unitas combined for 872 passing yards! Namath threw for 496 yards with 6 touchdowns in the Jets win. Namath's career was cut
short by serious knee injuries. He would sometimes have the fluid drained from his knees during halftime so he could continue play. Granted, Joe Namath did get the media attention and in fact revered in it. But the bottom line
is he was a winner and is deservedly enshrined in the Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
This is Joe Namath's rookie card (above 1965 Topps #122). Because it is his rookie card plus a short print, it is very expensive. Expect to pay a few hundred bones for a nice mid-grade example. NM and higher graded
cards sell for well over $1000. For an affordable alternative, try a 1972 Topps #100 or 1973 #400 Joe Namath. You can pick up a nice NM graded example for around $25 or less. The 1973 Topps Joe Namath is
his last regular card.
1948 Leaf # 'Slingin' Sammy Baugh (RC)
Football great, Sammy "Slingin" Baugh. One of the first quarterbacks to capitalize on the use of the passing game, Baugh was an All-American and Hall Of Fame quarterback for the Washington Redskins. In 1948 Leaf Gum
produced a very nice football set, similar to their baseball (All-Star Gum) and boxing (Knockout Gum) issues of the same year. Check out the football helmets back then; can you imagine the kind of game it was back in those days? It
must have been brutal. Obviously so as the helmets and game have changed since then.
1969 Topps #26 Bryon Piccolo (Rookie card) 1969 Topps #51 Gale Sayers
In 1965, Gale Sayers rookie season, he had 2272 all-purpose yards, including 1374 yards rushing and a record 22 touchdowns. On December 12, 1965 Sayers made a record 6 touchdowns in a single game. In his
career Sayers average 5 rushing yards per carry and is the all-time leader in kickoff return yardage (30.56). Injuries cut short his career (Sayers only played 6 NFL seasons), however he was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first
year of eligibility (1977). His number, #40 has since been retired by the Chicago Bears. This is a beautiful Topps card of Sayers from 1969 (above right). Also included in the 1969 Topps set was the only regular card of Bryon
Piccolo (above left), Sayer's friend and teammate. Piccolo died of cancer and his friendship with Sayers was the inspiration for the movie "Brian's Song" starring Billy Dee Williams as Sayers and James Cann as Brian Piccolo.
Chicago loves Gale Sayers. I had the opportunity to see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field a couple years ago and Gale Sayers threw out the first pitch and got a standing ovation. He also sang "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"
during the traditional 7th inning stretch, but to be honest Gale Sayers can't carry a tune. This guy, though was was one of the all-time great running backs and punt returners.
1973 Topps #300 Dick Butkus
1955 Topps All-American #37 Jim Thorpe (Carlisle)
One of the all-time classic football sets is the 1955 Topps All-American set. Included in the set is a card of sports legend
Jim Thorpe who happened to be an American Indian Native. His real name was "Wa-Tho-Huk" ("Bright Path"). While
his career included Olympic Gold Medals, Major League Baseball, College and NFL Football and even basketball,
Thorpe's life after sports was anything but a "Bright Path." He died in 1953, nearly penniless. Today he is remembered
as one of the Greatest Athletes Of All-Time. Check out the back of this 1955 Topps All American #37 Jim Thorpe card:
"Most experts agree that Jim was not only the greatest football player, but the greatest athlete of all times!"
1955 Topps All-American #37 Jim Thorpe (back of card)
1955 Topps All-American
| 1972 Topps Football Posters Joe Namath
As a bonus to football card collectors, Topps included these full color mini posters in packs of Topps football cards. Roughly four times the size of a regular card, these posters were mostly pinned or
taped to walls, so finding nice examples can be somewhat challenging. A very fun issue to collect.
1962 Kahn's Weiners Fran Tarkenton (Rookie year)
1974 Topps #150 John Unitas
You will see alot of Johnny Unitas cards on the Football Page because he was one of my favorites. This is his last regular card from the 1974 Topps Football set. The crew cut was gone, but he still had
his hair neat. I think I picked up this card for a few bucks; it's not a GEM MINT 10, PRISTINE, or the Holy Grail, but it's still a terrific Johnny U. card. And for five bucks, who's complaining?
1950 Bowman #103 Charley Conerly
Are these beautiful cards or what? Like their baseball counterparts, the early Bowman Gum Football cards were full color drawings (from actual photographs) that are improvable today.
You can add the shiny glitz and foil of new issues and all it is is a boring piece of cardboard, much like all the same auto vehicles you see on the road nowadays. Boring. Old sports cards are
like classic cars, 50's T-Birds and '57 Chevy's, 1960's Corvettes and Mustangs. There is a reason people pay a lot of money for vintage cards (& cars). Nostalgia is one reason. Another is that
they are simple and innovative at the same time. Back then card manufacturers were competing against each other to make the best possible product. Same with the auto makers. If they
made a car that sold thousands of units is was a hit. If kids were buying packs of gum to get the latest cards it was a hit. Now it is more about making a profit than about making something
special. A real shame. Thankfully we have these old cards to remind us of what we had and are capable of.
My favorite Charley Conerly story was when he was fighting in WWII a rifle was shot out of his hands. Conerly said "Damn. I don't like that...," picked up his weapon and went right back
to fighting. Conerly exhibited this same attitude on the gridiron as a member of the New York Giants and was part of the greatest games ever played, the 1958 NFL Championship vs. the
Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas. Charley Conerly was a true hero and a member of Pro Football's Hall of Fame.
1959 Bell Brand L.A. Rams #5 Tom Wilson (Back view)
While many collectors know of the Bell Brand Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cards that were issued in Bell Brand Potato Chip packages in 1958, 1960-1962, few know that Bell Brand also issued cards of the Los Angeles Rams
Football team in 1959 and 1960. The 1959 cards are very similar to the 1960 Bell Brand LA Dodgers cards. The 1960 Bell Brand Rams cards have bright yellow borders. Both the 1959 and 1960 Bell Brand LA Rams cards are
fairly tough to find.
I just have a hard time understanding why the city of Los Angeles does not have a football team. I mean, we have 2 baseball teams (Dodgers, "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim"), 2 basketball teams (Clippers, Lakers), 2 hockey teams
(Kings, and Ducks if you consider Orange County part of L.A (it's not)). We even have soccer teams here. But no Pro Football teams. At one time we had the Rams, Chargers, and Raiders. We even had a USFL team at one time. It
comes down to greed. An owner wants the city to kiss his ass (See Al Davis), build a new stadium on taxpayer money, and live off the fat of the land for the rest of his life. In fact Al Davis screwed the City Of Irwindale out of 10
MILLION Dollars just for the privilege of considering the Raiders in Irwindale. Needless to say, Al Davis packed up the team, took his 10 million and moved back to Oakland where he has been a miserable wretch for the rest of his
stinking life. Can you say "Scum Bag?" The NFL calls him a "Hall of Famer." I say he is SHIT. I say the same thing about Georgia Frontiere. May they both rot in hell. Oh well. At least we have these old cards to remind us that
we once did have NFL teams play here...
1933 Sport Kings Gum #4 Red Grange 1933 Sport Kings Gum #6 Jim Thorpe
In 1933, Goudey Gum Company of Boston MA produced a set of colorful cards called "Sport Kings Gum." This 48-card set featured baseball players (Ty Cobb, Carl Hubbell,
Babe Ruth), Boxers (Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney), athletes (Babe Didrickson), hockey greats (Howie Morenz, Eddie Shore), Aviators (James Doolittle), Golfers (Ben Hogan,
Bobby Jones), surfers (Duke Kahanamoku), even "Tarzan" Johnny Weismuller (swimming). Also featured were some early gridiron cards like the above Red Grange and Jim
Thorpe cards. Knute Rockne also has a card in the set. These cards are extremely popular today.
1967-68 Aamco Transmissions Postcard Johnny Unitas
This is a scarce advertising postcard for Aamco Transmissions featuring Johnny Unitas. These large (6" x 9") full color postcards feature a prominent athlete (the only ones I am aware of are
Wilt Chamberlain (Basketball), Roger Maris (Baseball) and Johnny Unitas (Football) using a sales pitch seemingly for Aamco owners or managers. If that is the cause you can understand why these
postcards are so hard to come by. The date on these is approximate; Maris is pictured as a St. Louis Cardinal with whom he played for from 1967 and 1968. These are great collectibles but expect
to pay a premium; the above example currently seen on eBay (September 2010) has a $195 "Buy It Now" price tag!
Note Johnny U's uniform number (19); my favorite number!
1970 Topps Super Glossy #28 Bob Griese
1963 Hartland Plastics John Unitas
Most collectors are familiar with the beautiful baseball statues that were produced by Hartland Plastics in the 1950's through 1960's. Hartland also produced football players, Cowboys & Indians and
more. This 1963 Hartland Plastics John Unitas is just a beautiful piece; I saw it on eBay and it was pretty expensive (over $600!). These are made from a mold and are hollow so they were not
meant to be played with. You can imagine that kids would, of course, play with them and surviving original examples (Hartland produced reproductions in the 1990's) are quite expensive today.
1961 Fleer #166 George Blanda
While soon to be retired (I hope, for his sake) Brett Favre is known as the "Iron Man" of Football with his record 297 consecutive game streak, George Blanda ("The Grand Old Man") is one of only 2 players to have played
in four different decades. Blanda made his professional football debut with the Chicago Bears in 1949 and played until 1958 when he retired (due in no small part to his conflicts with Bears' owner George Halas). Upon the
emergence of the American Football League in 1960, Blanda came out of retirement to play quarterback and kicker to the Houston Oilers. He guided them to two consecutive AFL Championships. After setting numerous passing
records as a QB for the AFL, Blanda was signed by the Raiders in 1967. He went on to play for the Raiders from 1967 to 1975, winning another AFL Championship in 1967. George Blanda's last game was on January 4,
1976. He kicked a 41 yard field goal and an extra point in a 16-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Blanda was 48 years old. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio, and was also ranked in the top
"100 Greatest Football Players" "The Sporting News" poll in 1999. In all, Blanda's career spanned 26 seasons. George Blanda died on September 27, 2010 at the grand old age of 83.
While Topps Chewing Gum football trading cards are the most popular from the mid 1950's through the 1980's, other football cards were produced by Bowman, Leaf, National Chicle, Philadelphia Gum, Post Cereal, and Fleer
(Frank H. Fleer). Fleer sneaked in some terrific cards beginning in 1960 with the emergence of the AFL. This is a great card of George Blanda, from the 1961 Fleer Football set.
1968 Topps #49 Paul Warfield (Back view)