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Some cards from that sport I don't see how they're going to play

Well, it looks like we're actually going to have some baseball games to watch pretty soon. I've learned over the last five months to never plan on or expect anything, but I don't think even MLB can screw up at least starting the season in a few days.

I even can see how they can pull it off, too, which is not something I could visualize a couple months ago. But watching other sports take place, as well as seeing baseball games performed in other countries, gives me confidence it can happen, for at least a few weeks anyway.

I can see it for some of the other sports getting ready to play, too, basketball, even hockey.

Then there's football.

I don't see any way they can pull that off. We're only seven weeks out.

Well, maybe the NFL, just because the NFL doesn't care about anything except the NFL. It would play in the middle of nuclear annihilation, I'm quite convinced. But college football, no matter how insistent some coaches have been, you can't tell me that's going to happen. Maybe I'm overestimating some parents, but we're going to tell them their 20-year-old pride-and-joy is going to be piling on top of other 20 year olds multiple times a game with a contagious, deadly disease floating in the air, and mom and/or dad is going to be cool with that?

I can't process that.

Another reason I'm having difficulty visualizing football this fall is because that sport is so much about the spectacle. It's that way for just about any playing level. I never experienced peewee football, but for high school, any level of college, even semipro versions and especially the pros, football is not played without hoopla.

I can visualize baseball in the park with just infield chatter and the crack of the bat. I can see a pick-up game of hoops on the city court with only a handful of admiring fans. I've witnessed teenagers playing hockey in a nearly empty and frozen rink. But football?

No matter what, football always has a crowd. A crowd of fans, of course, but also the biggest assemblage of players and coaches anywhere. And then there are bands and cheerleaders and assistants, and assistants to the assistants, and a whole bunch of officials, and the chain people and the clock operator and the media types and the announcers and the broadcasters and TV cameramen from around the world and ...

Yeah, it's not happening. I don't see it.

I hope I'm wrong, because as much as the NFL has become mostly an annoyance in my life over the last 20 or so years, I still like watching it. And I still like the memories of those teams when I was a kid. And I still am fond of the sets I collected back then.

Recently, Bo of Baseball Cards Come To Life sent me 210 cards from the 1979 Topps football set.

Since I casually collect football, I don't like working on more than one football card task. I'm trying to finish up the 1977 Topps football set right now and I shouldn't be taking on anything else.

But the opportunity was just too good. I really like the '79 set a lot. The classic design, the memories of buying cello packs of the stuff. So, yeah, let's get started on this thing!

I was 14 when this set came out. It meant so much to me that when the stack of cards arrived from Bo, I was able to pull out several of the cards that I knew I had back then, guided by the memories deep in my brain. I hadn't thought about those cards in decades, yet I knew instantly which cards I owned:


There you go, I owned each and every one of those in 1979. I adored that Cliff Branch card. And with the exception of Branch, Brian Sipe and Randy Grossman, I probably couldn't have told you much about any of the other players (nor can I now). But I know exactly what their 1979 cards look like!

The '79 football set arrived during that time when it was still cool to put cartoons on card backs. I love studying the cartoons and the one that amused me the most appeared on the back of a card of the Jets' Lawrence Phillips:

That's your advice for the day, folks. Load up on bread if you're having tummy issues.

Here are a few more favorites:

Ricky Bell's brother was Archie Bell of Archie Bell and the Drells, known world over for the late '60s No. 1 song, "Tighten Up". ("This is the music we tighten up with.") Ricky Bell, sadly, died five years after this card came out and was the subject of a TV movie in the early '90s.

I like the cartoonist's idea of what a strong fashion design looks like.

Also, apparently Gary Weaver designed clothes for Hollywood Henderson as well!

One of my favorite design elements from the '79 set is with the All-Pro cards in which the football transforms from plain, old brown to a combination of yellow-and-red (for the NFC) or yellow-and-purple (for the AFC).

Unfortunately, there were no All-Pros in what Bo sent but that doesn't mean there weren't downright stars. All of the above players were significant players of my formative football-rooting years, a few that have been long forgotten.

Here are a few more. Once again, 1979 football was so awesome it didn't need logos.

And a few more notables.

Plus some "cult-status" guys.

Players who went on to coach, broadcast or act.

I didn't collect any football cards during the '80s and '90s, or really anything after the '70s ended, so I don't know if the '70s phenomenon ...

... of punters and kickers looking so fantastic on their cards continued. They looked like superstars.

You probably won't see a want list for '79 football up instantly. I need to figure out where I'm going to store these cards since I have so few binders devoted to football.

I think I'm just about done with accumulating Buffalo Bills cards (except for pre-1990 cards) and once I'm officially tackling '79 Topps that will probably be it for me and football cards. The other '70s set that brings up the nostalgies in me is the '76 Topps set (talk about the football as a design element!), so, who knows, maybe I'll give that a run.

But then I'll be finished with that sport, which may or may not be a thing again until 2021.


Trevor P said…
What a great package! Some very cool players in this post.
Elliptical Man said…
Cool post.

I think a few of those were All-Pros, just not in 1978.

Voting for the Brian Sipe. No airbrushing required.
gcrl said…
that is a great group of cards that bring back some memories! i bought a lot of topps football packs in 1978 and 1979. the 1979 set confused me tremendously as most of the rams had their helmets untouched, but ferragamo and john cappaletti both had theirs without the yellow horns.
Cardboard Jones said…
Very cool! I love that set and am currently working my way through trying to complete it.
John Bateman said…
Throwing John Travolta name onto a football card is pretty cool. The cartoons are so genuine. TO gcrl I have had 1979, 1980 Topps football cards for years and it is cool to find out the issue with the airbrushing (or lack of) on those Ram Helmets.
Fuji said…
I hope everything goes smoothly for all professional sports. Honestly didn't think we'd see any in 2020 after things started to get shut down. I've enjoyed watching SJ Earthquakes highlights the past few days, but I can see where if one guy gets sick, things could get scary quick. High contact sports in general will be interesting to follow, hopefully avoid crazy flair ups, and end up being a positive thing for people during these interesting times.
I watched 5 minutes of the Dodgers game on MLB Network last night.

It was really weird. The stands were clearly empty, but when they showed the view of the pitcher pitching to the batter, there was a row of computer-generated people in the seats. No one moved (obviously), and they all had the same pose (funny) but were sitting right next to each other. No social distancing! Lol

It was also very odd (and unnecessarily contrived) that there was crowd noise, and that annoying organ music that prompts people to yell "charge!".
Johngy said…
I loved this set, but it was the last one I seriously collected at the time. I have since gone back and picked up later cards.
GCA said…
First set I ever collected of any kind! Shafer Suggs from the Jets was my set killer.

When you are ready for '76, I've probably got 85% of the set without some of the superstars available.
Commishbob said…
Fun post! Love the '79 set. The cartoons are among the best Topps has done I think.

As an aside...a friend of ours has a music studio on his property and, while he normally works with country artists, has engineered some tracks for Archie Bell through the years. I got to meet him once or twice.
Brett Alan said…
Love seeing those old cartoons. Although that Ricky Bell would be my favorite card ever if the cartoon said "Ricky's Brother Archie Dances Just As Good As He Wants!"
Bo said…
Glad you like them! I should really pay more attention to the backs. I have lots more of these if anyone else is building the set.
Card bubbles said…
A few more Bills coming your way soon
Mark Hoyle said…
This set evokes a lot of childhood memories. Remember putting this together from packs. Back when I opened packs. Still have all my 70’s football sets
bryan was here said…
I have a special place in my heart for the '79 football set. My uncle was out visiting for Thanksgiving one year and we had a tradition, on the Friday after, (before it was known as Black Friday) he would take me to the local card shop. One year he saw the complete set of '79s in their glass case for $16. (This was around 1983-84). He didn't have the cash on him right there, so he sent me a check for $16 so I could pick it up for him and when we wnt back to see the family at Christmas, we could give it to him then.
A couple years ago, he and I were talking at a family reunion and he asked me if I wanted his card collection. Of course I said yes. About a month later, I drove out to visit him and we loaded up my car with his collection. That set, still in the box with the stamp of my old card shop that I frequented so often during my growing up in the '80s, got me emotional. I saved that box even after I put the cards in the binder.
Sorry for my version of Homer's Odyssey, but I love the '79 Topps Football set.

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