Thursday night saw the crushing and horrifying end of my New Orleans Saints' season. I love Drew Brees more than most of my family, but last Sunday he proved you can't throw two pick sixes on consecutive passes and hope to win, and then three days ago he proved it is pretty tough to throw five interceptions and come out ahead. So now I will just ride out the season, root for the Giants, and enjoy not sweating every single down (not to mention cursing Roger Goodell with every breath I can muster).
So all this finality has me thinking what to show you this week. As it stands, I recently put together a bunch of Topps pages of old school vintage football cards from the 1970's. I know every single Topps baseball card design year like the back of my hand, but really, once you get older than 1982 or 1983, my recall for exactly what year a football card might be is a little fuzzy. I hope this little exercise helps me out (and you).
It seems in 1979 Topps had ribbons on the brain. The baseball cards got horizontal ones and the football here got stubby verticals ones. You will notice the helmet logos are airbrushed out. Topps didn't have the logos on cards until well into the 80's.
I don't remember owning any 1978 Topps football at all as a kid. I guess my brother and cousins hoarded their money that winter. I blame Jimmy Carter.
The 1977 Topps football seem to have a little bit of echo to the baseball design, in the sort of curling pennant look on the top border. I always liked the colors of these. Topps also released this set in Mexico with Spanish team names. Those are pretty trippy looking cards. I should get a hold of 9 of them and make a page.
When I worked in the card shop in Boston at the turn of the millennium, there was a box of 1976 rack packs in the store. As I was wont, when I was bored, I would open random packs around the store to amuse myself. I recall ripping a few of these, pulling the whale of the set to boot (the Walter Payton rookie). I am fairly certain most of these cards come from those packs. I am a big fan of the chunky cartoon football on the fronts of these.
This makes the third year out of five that there was pennant/ribbon looking graphics on the fronts of the cards. I guess when you can't show the actual team logos or wordmarks, you do what you can. Or perhaps they gave the football designs to the interns. Anyway, these are the cards from my birth year and I did not have nine of them to make a page until very recently.
I always thought the 1974 football design was so boring. Then a couple of years ago, I noticed that it is not just a plain little color border around the photo of the cards but they are actually goalposts. Realizing that fact (and boy, do I feel dumb for not seeing that earlier) change this from one of my least favorite designs to one of the top due to the impressive subtlety of that. Well played, Topps. Well played.
More ribbons?!? I know I am going backwards here, but that means almost half of the football designs in the 1970's had this. Screw this, let's look at the backs.
Football card backs in the 70's are all basically the same. A line of stats for most players, minus the offensive linemen or any defensive player without an interception, a little biographical blurb, and a cartoon. The football cartoons always tickled me, since the girth of a football player lends to a lot of caricature.
The 1972 set has some very dull design features and very hard to track high numbers. I do like the inclusion of some horizontal pictures, though. I am also puzzled by OJ's fu-manchu there. Perhaps he has an evil twin? Perhaps HE is the real killer?
The 1971 Topps football design is one of my all time favorites. I love the two tone borders that are prototypes for the 1975 baseball set. I love the font they use for the team names. I love the big, broad photos. And I love the wonderful little position icons. These were the first pages I ever put together of vintage Topps football cards. I did two pages so I could include at least one of all of the position icons. In fact, those pages are some of the first "Starting Nine" style pages I ever did.
The backs are great too, because they had full career statistics and very well written blurbs. They even got a little cartoon in there too.
1971 page 2:
This is the second page. I think the linebacker icon is my favorite out of all of them.
1971 page 2 back:
And let's look at the backs of these too, just for consistency's sake. Too bad we can't go back in time and mention that Bubba Smith would one day start in half a dozen Police Academy films.
The 1970 set looks like cameos or something. And more ribbon?!? That is five out of 10 for the decade. I sense echoes of the 1959 Topps baseball in this set for some reason.
I only have 2 years worth of 1960's cards, so I may as well include those here as well...
Hey look! Team logos. These look very retro even for 1969, like they were going for a 50's vibe or something.
The last year I have a vintage Topps page for. This design reminds me of a hockey look for some reason. Or maybe a time-release capsule?
So there it is. Vintage football pages back to 1968. I will need to collect back to 1955 to complete all the years. Perhaps I will have that done before next season. I do have all the Topps baseball designs in a nine-pocket page back to 1952. I have been threatening to show them all and the off season seems to be a good time to start doing that (especially with hockey out of the picture...). Look for those to begin sometime, um, soon.