Thursday, April 14, 2016


Offseason? What are you talking about, Adam? The season just began!

Well, I do realize that baseball is not the only sport out there. While hockey playoffs started last night, basketball playoffs are about to, and the first of golf's four Majors just wrapped up, football is definitely in offseason mode.

1999 Upper Deck Victory #83 Shannon Sharpe
Which is as good a time as any to show some contest winnings from Daniel at It's Like Having My Own Card Shop. He posted various groupings of four cards, and it was our job to figure out which one was different from the other three. Apparently, I did well enough to win a few Broncos cards, bumping my entire collection of football cards from maybe five binder pages to about seven.

I don't have a lot of football cards. Or many cards from any other sport. Hockey's a little bit higher, but when I say my collection is 99% baseball, that's rounding down. Still, it's an action-packed sport (perhaps too much so, say neurologists) and can make for some great cards. Here, Tight End and now-broadcaster Shannon Sharpe is evading a Washington defender.

Though the Broncos just won their third Super Bowl, most of these cards are from the late-1990s era of their first two wins. Shannon Sharpe was a key member during that period, and this is probably my first card of him.

Because there's only one game a week, and because it's rare to have a repeating matchup in a season (outside your division, anyway), football cards should be significantly easier to date than baseball cards. However, this Sharpe card has me a little bit stumped, because while the Broncos definitely played Washington in 1998, it was in D.C., and Sharpe is clearly wearing a home jersey here. Regardless, I'll go with Sept 27th, 1998, because that's the only possibility based on the copyright date and the new Broncos jerseys.

1991 Score #496 Simon Fletcher
1997 marked the year of the new logo and jerseys, leaving the old blue and orange in the history books. Denver is much more into the Broncos than any other professional sports team, and you still see quite a few of these jerseys around. Though they have similar colors to Washington, the Broncos are playing the Chiefs here, their longtime division rivals. I don't really remember anything about Simon Fletcher, but this was the only card that had the old jerseys, so here it is.

You've probably noticed by now that I'm dancing around using the actual team name of Washington, and unless you're living under a rock, you've probably heard about the controversy around their team name. "Chiefs" seems to be fine, as do the "Braves". So the NFL isn't the only sport with Native American names. In fact, looking through the various native-themed logos of other teams, Washington's probably had the least offensive logos of them all, even since the early 20th century. But that name. Wow.

It's a bit of a relief that most of the team names in Denver are named after geology (Rockies, Nuggets) or various phases of water flowing downhill (Avalanche, Rapids).

But in the naming controversy, I have to side with the challengers on this one. Of course, the name of a football team is a drop in the bucket compared to the high unemployment, racial profiling, poor education, and general lack of opportunity that exist on Native American reservations (and among most minority groups in this country, for that matter). But an offensive NFL team name is just one consequence of the attitudes that led to all the other problems.

And while I think the name should be changed, I'm sure plenty of people on this continent could care less, and would rather have electricity and running water than a 32nd non-offensive NFL team name.

1999 Donruss #38 Ed McCaffrey
Anyway, yeah. Football. If you collected Donruss cards in 2001, you probably ran across the 1999 Donruss Retroactive insert set. Donruss didn't release a baseball set in 1999 or 2000, but in addition to their resurgence in 2001, they created an insert set using 1999's design and team assignments. Little did I know they actually released a football set in both years, whose design influenced their insert product in 2001. I thought they just made it up from scratch all this time.

These are the things we miss when we focus on just one sport.

There's a little bit of foil in the upper right, and while it's a good action shot, this one looks pretty overexposed to me. Perhaps it's just the printing. And more than the Chiefs these days, the Patriots have become one of the Broncos' main rivals, especially in the playoffs.

2000 Private Stock #30 Ed McCaffrey
Here's another one of my favorite Wide Receiver of the era, Ed McCaffrey. He's still well-liked here, and even has a line of mustards and condiments that you sometimes run across in local supermarkets.

Pacific didn't save their odd cards for baseball, as this premium card from Private Stock applies a bit of rotoscoping to McCaffrey's photo. If you saw Waking Life or A Scanner Darkly, you know what I'm talking about. And this card was printed before either of those movies were released. But there's a slight error on the back, as the paragraph refers to the Broncos winning Super Bowl XXXIII against Green Bay. Though they did win SB33, Pacific put one extra Roman numeral in there, since the Broncos' win against the Packers was in SB32.

1999 Bowman Chrome #114 Marcus Nash
I don't really remember Marcus Nash either, but the thing I tend to appreciate most about football cards is how they vary slightly from the baseball design. Topps' 1994 Football design replaced a home plate with an oval football shape. And this 1999 Bowman Chrome card replaces the black woodgrain (just now noticed that) in the baseball set with the color and texture of a football. The texture is just in the appearance; it's not actually raised. But how cool would that be?

I don't know if all players signed their team name and position on the football set, since on the baseball side it's just a facsimile autograph. And I don't have nearly enough football cards to compare. But this certainly stands out from the ocean of black borders that Bowman is known for.

1998 Playoff Momentum Hobby #74 Rod Smith
Rod Smith was another important member of the Broncos' first two Super Bowl wins, and he got this shiny Playoff card to show for it. It's thick, but there's hardly anything to differentiate the front from the back other than a couple logos, the card number, and the copyright date. Displaying this reversed in a binder page wouldn't obviously stick out like most other cards, although the back does have a slightly less eye-catching pattern in the silver border.

2000 SP Authentic #25 Terrell Davis
And now we come to Mr. Mile High Salute himself, Terrell Davis. He won the Super Bowl MVP award in XXXII, the first Bronco to have that honor, and followed that up with an excellent 1998 season with over 2,000 rushing yards. Sadly, his career declined quite rapidly after that, as he never really recovered from a serious knee injury he experienced in 1999. He got this textured SP card a couple years before his official retirement, but though his excellent career was cut short, he still walked away with two Super Bowl rings and legendary status in Denver.

Thanks to Daniel for these cards, as they certainly mixed things up around here!

1 comment:

  1. To clear up your confusion on the Sharpe card: the Redskins wear their white uniforms at home. If you look in the background, the crowd definitely seems pro-Washington. I think you have the right date.