I've just gone through what has been the strangest 24 hours of monitoring sports news during my entire work career.
I'm sure as a casual fan, it must have been wild to catch updates about this league postponing and that tournament canceling as you went about your day, working or running errands or whatever.
Now imagine your job is to stay on top of sports news and to disseminate that news as quickly as possible and that was me. Within 10 minutes of each other last night, the local ECAC college hockey league canceled its playoffs and the NBA suspended its season and my head was spinning. Throw in all the other sports cancellations and delays that you've all heard about, and then add the stuff that we care about only locally -- like state basketball and hockey championships being scrapped -- and it was quite the whirlwind of erasing a whole lot of stuff that had been so important for so long.
Maybe none of it really matters, I thought, if we can just cancel everything just like that.
But you can't cancel this blog. And you can't cancel memories. And fortunately I have a lot of those. Half of this blog -- if not more -- is memories.
In fact, I've discussed quite often my favorite baseball card when I was a kid -- the '75 Steve Yeager and the '75 Cey, the '77 Fisk and the '74 Garvey -- you're all familiar with that stuff.
But what about football? What were my favorite football cards?
I really only collected football as a kid three years, 1976, 1977 and 1979. Outside of that, the '75 Alan Page was a definite favorite of mine. But from those three years, you have to go directly to 1977 for all-time favorites. Namely, this card:
You couldn't make a more impressive card as far as I was concerned. It appealed to me in many ways.
First, the colors used with the Cowboys that year really appealed to me. Maybe it was my fascination with McDonald's at the time, I don't know, but they really stood out. Then add the All-Pro bar. It would be many years before I realized that the All-Pro mention doesn't even come close to the stature of a baseball All-Star, but it sure looked equally as impressive to me.
Then, there's the man himself. I didn't know who Drew Pearson was. But all that facial hair and that well-coifed afro made me certain that he was something special. And then there was this:
Something about that pose, it made him seem like he was seated on a horse. He's probably just sitting on a bench but, he sure did look like he was five feet in the air on the back of a horse. (This was a common perception for me, I though the same thing looking at Fisk's 1976 Topps card).
This was the best-of-the-best of the 1977 Topps NFL cards for me. But Pearson had company.
Another Pearson -- no relation -- had my admiration. He didn't look nearly as cool as Drew, but he was posing underneath that Cowboys banner, so that was good enough.
Then there was Billy Jo DuPree, groomed like Drew Pearson, also an All-Pro, definitely a Cowboy, and also with that awesome name. In a weak moment, I'd rate the DuPree card above the Pearson card and then scold myself.
The Cowboys were my favorite team at the time, because of those three horsemen, as well as cards from Harvey Martin and Golden Richards and this great Efren Herrera kicker card.
As I've said before, I didn't give a single thought to so many of the NFL cards showing players without helmets or with no logos. I just figured that's the way things were in the NFL. I didn't watch it much at that time, so you could get a lot past me.
But it made enough of an impression as a set that it remains my favorite football set, and is the only one I'm interested enough in to try to complete.
Even though I had just a passing knowledge of the game, I knew which teams were good, and those Cowboys and Raiders cards just naturally seemed more impressive than the others.
Steelers, too, definitely Steelers. These were the toughest cards to get. They were so much better than everyone else.
And they had Rocky Bleier, who was my favorite player for like a day back then. I don't know why he stopped becoming my favorite player. I actually could have kept him as my favorite player for the next 40 years and it would be a good choice. The Vietnam story and all that, that was someone to admire.
Plus, those 1,000-yarder logos were as great as the Rated Rookie logos that '80s kids get so excited over. I barely knew what 1,000 yards meant, but it sure did look like something worth celebrating.
All of these cards came in a Twitter trade from Coop-a-loop. It made quite the dent in my '77 football want list and there were so many memories in these cards.
Just look at these cards. A dude named Sam Adams, the future "Hunter," a future NFL broadcaster and the NFC championship game (I rooted for the Rams).
More All-Pros! So many cool names and looks. And there's my favorite team once I soured on the Cowboys, the Oilers! Wonder what happened to them.
All of the checklists that I received are gloriously unchecked. It's amusing that it was perfectly OK to create checklists in this fashion at the time (with team leaders ON THE BACK!) and no one complained. Also check out the number of Colts available compared with the number of Chargers.
Today, I notice the weirdness of '70s football cards. The phantom player in the background.
The card in which Darden looks like a baby bird being fed.
And then I see the fearsome trio of Sistrunk, Carr and Eller and I remember what pulled me in about football and those '77 cards at the time. They were static shots of a sport that moved so quickly I could barely process it at the time.
This wrinkled representation of Super Bowl XI shows the first Super Bowl I ever watched. I can't tell you anything that happened other than that the Raiders won and the Vikings lost and I watched the game on a black-and-white TV in what was the "rec room" in our house at the time (the same place I saw my first World Series game, in 1975).
These cards are full of memories that I'll have for the rest of my life and that's why cards from this time are the most important ones for me -- far more important than anything I buy of current cards.
Who knows when those current players will start playing again so current card makers have something to put on current cards. But I have my memory cards and those will never be canceled.