Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friday Night Mall Show: Vintage Football, Pt. 3

A little yin and yang is the theme of today's Vintage Football post.

This first card is of a player who made an indelible impact on the NFL landscape during the 1980's (and somewhat into the '90s), and is widely considered among the top five most impactful defensive players in league history.

1983 Topps, #133

Although I'm a card carrying fan of the Buffalo Bills, I grew up in a New York Giants household.  For whatever reason, I didn't adopt the Giants as my team as I did with the Mets and NY Rangers, for instance.  While the Giants were boring and won games (and Super Bowls), the Bills were flashy and exciting and...well...lost Super Bowls.  Including to the Giants when I was 10.  Lucky for me, I wasn't really hypnotized by football at that time, and wasn't even rooting for the Bills yet.  [Ed. Note:  The Buffalo lightning bolt hit me midway through the middle of the 1991 season, in case you were wondering.  And I've been Bills-crazy since then.]

Regardless of all that, I still take interest in the Giants and root for them to do well each year, for the sake of my father, uncles and grandfathers.  Speaking of my old man, one of his treasured possessions back in the day was the NFL Films video about LT's prolific career, appropriately titled LT.  Needless to say, that particular VHS got a mighty good workout during football season.  It's a great video, by the way, so if you're a Giants fan you oughta scour eBay for a copy.

Also, my best buddy growing up was a complete and total Giants and LT fanatic.  He even chose the name Lawrence for his Catholic confirmation name.  [Ed. Note: Mom wouldn't allow me to use 'Cornelius' in honor of Cornelius Bennett, even though it was a name from the Bible.  In retrospect, I guess she did the right thing. But, it sounded good when I was 12.]

For those reasons, and that fact that he was a complete and total maniac on (and off) the field, I regard Taylor as a cardboard immortal.  Thus, any time I have a chance to get one of his cards, I jump at it.  I have a few nice vintage LT cards, including the '84 and '86.  But, this one is his second-year card, which is pretty neat.  One of these days I'll add his rookie to the collection.

While Lawrence Taylor spent his Sunday afternoon's making life miserable and painful for quarterbacks, this next player spent his career making bullies chase after him in vain.

1978 Topps, #100

Fran Tarkenton made guys like Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones cuss and complain.  If you were gonna hit and/or sack the former Georgia Bulldog, you were gonna have to work you butt off to do it.  Sideline to sideline, backwards and forwards, Tarkenton scrambled and escaped his way to one of the most impressive careers ever crafted by a pro quarterback.  He's top ten all-time in passing yards (47,003) and touchdowns (342), and also racked up 3,674 rushing yards with 32 additional scores.  A cool fact from Wikipedia: Fran set an NFL quarterbacking record by scoring a rushing TD in 15 different seasons.

In addition to these awesome exploits, I must admit I have a soft spot for ol' Fran since he was the losing QB on three occasions with the Vikings of the '70s.  As a Bills fan, you can't help by empathize with that.

This isn't Tarkenton's best card by a long shot, but it happens to be the first one that I ever pulled the trigger on and purchased.  I look forward to obtaining more of his 1970s issues in the future.

Tomorrow, a former QB great who now makes up one half of the best NFL color analyst team on the radio...


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