Saturday, November 25, 2017

Otto Stowe: Outspoken And Out Of A Job

Topps football cards 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, custom cards that never were
One of the flashier players in the NFL in the early 70s was wide receiver Otto Stowe who got himself a Super Bowl ring as a member of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins.  Born in Chicago, Illinois and having left Iowa State as the all-time leader in receptions and yards, Stowe entered the NFL as a 2nd round pick of the Dolphins in 1971.

Used as the main back up to Paul Warfield, Stowe had productive second year (he caught 6 passes for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns on a Monday night game) and looked like he had the tools to be a star receiver.  Not seeing an opportunity to start in Miami, he requested a trade at the end of the Dolphins undefeated 1972 season. 

The Cowboys, who had been trying to replace the aging Bob Hayes and the retired Lance Alworth, traded the productive Ron Sellers and a 6th round draft choice for the speedier Stowe.  It looked like he had found the perfect home in 1973, catching 22 passes for a league leading 6 touchdowns in what was looking like a Pro Bowl season.  Stylistically, he had one of the leading afros in the NFL and, while with the Cowboys, he modeled suits for Hart Schaffner & Marx.  Unfortunately, he broke his ankle in the 7th game in 1973 and was lost for the rest of the season.

The feeble NFL Player's strike that started in training camp of the 1974 season put everyone in a bad mood and Stowe, who was one of the last of the veterans to cross the line, was soon singled out.  His ankle had not fully healed and he had a difficult training camp running on the rock-hard Thousand Oaks training camp surface.  He was also out-spoken about the way the Cowboys had treated Calvin Hill, who left to sign a contract with the WFL.  Receivers coach Mike Ditka said Stowe "was not applying himself" and was traded to the Denver Broncos on October 6, 1974 for a draft choice. "I hated to see that man go.  He could have helped us win the Super Bowl," said All-Pro tackle Rayfield Wright.  Cliff Harris and Mel Renfro considered him the "best receiver on the team."  Rookie Drew Pearson, who was mentored by Stowe, was also sad to see him go.

Still hampered by the ankle injury, Stowe had a disappointing 1974 season in Denver, catching only two passes.  Somehow, he was still in demand and was traded to the Rams at the beginning of the 1975 season but he announced his retirement on August 18, 1975.

RetroCards pays tribute to this underrated player who, like many other talented and overlooked players, didn’t have any sports cards in his entire career.  RetroCards has created a few and there are more to come so stay tuned.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1965 Philadelphia Style: Series II

Topps, 1965, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Colts, NFL, AFL, Update cards

Continuing our focus on 1965, RetroCards releases another batch of top NFL players that did not have cards in the original 1965 set.  Series Two includes:

Y.A. Tittle, Joe Schmidt, Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson, Gene Hickerson, Bill George, Frank Gifford, Billy Ray Smith, Andy Robustelli, Lou Groza, Dave Kopay, Alvin Haymond, John Reger, Roy Jefferson, Walt Rock, Jackie Smith, Jack Pardee, John Wooten, Karl Kassulke, Joe Scarpati, Brian Piccolo, Joe Don Looney, and Bob Toneff.

The next set in this series focuses on AFL All-Stars and fan favorites.  Order here!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

1965: Adding To An Already Great Set

Topps football, custom cards that never were, NFL, AFL

By 1965 the NFL had begun to fully realize the product they had.  Unlike baseball, football was the perfect sport for television.  Seeing the broadcast ratings increasing for both the NFL and AFL, the NFL approved expansion for a team in Atlanta for 1966.  A merger with the AFL began to make sense, if only to drive down the out-of-control salaries that had escalated in the war between the two leagues.

Two NFL league founders, Jack Mira (Giants) and Curly Lambeau (Packers) had passed away during 1965 but an exciting crop of rookies like Gale Sayers, Bob Hayes, and Dick Butkus pointed the league in new and exciting directions. The Packers were still the class of the NFL and recent expansion teams like the Cowboys and Vikings began filling stadiums, while the AFL made football even more compelling with their pass-first philosophy.

As most collectors know, in the mid 60s two different companies handled the release of football cards and for a short period, the Philadelphia Gum Company made classy looking cards exclusively for the NFL. RetroCards plans for seven series (24 cards each) that will add to the already sharp-looking 1965 set that originally had a mere 198 cards.  Series one fills in the gaps with great players like:

Sonny Randle, Gale Sayers, Lenny Lyles, Leroy Kelly, Dave Wilcox, Ordell Braase, Paul Martha, Del Shofner, Pat Richter, King Hill, Dick "Night Train" Lane, Bucky Pope, John Mackey, Dick Butkus, Ernie McMillan, Milt Plum, R.C. Owens, Tommy Wade, Ron Vander Kellen, commissioner Pete Rozelle, plus card featuring the NFL Championship, Pro Bowl, and Playoff Bowl games, and a wrapper card.

Series two will feature another 24 NFL stars and fan favorites, while series three and four will feature AFL All-stars. Order here!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Cardinals Of 1963: Earning Respect

Topps, custom cards that never were

The Cardinals had moved from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960 after years of failure and losing money.  1962 was a down season for the Cards and they posted 4-9-1 record after going 7-7 in 1961.  Despite the losing record, Sonny Randle caught 16 passes for 256 yards in a single game and John David Crow scored 17 touchdowns. Rising stars like Larry Wilson, Jackie Smith, and Bobby Joe Conrad turn some heads.  

A new stadium was in the works for St. Louis and Cards finished with a strong 9-5 record in 1963. Injuries to backs Crow and Prentice Gautt forced veteran Joe Childress into the starting lineup along with converted defensive back Bill Triplett. The Cards found a solid quarterback in Charley Johnson who led the team to a 9–5 record, nearly making the playoffs, earning them some much needed respect.


This RetroCards set features 18 players that didn’t have cards in 1963: Dale Meinert, Ken Gray, Mike McGee, John Symank, Luke Owens, Ken Panfil, Jackie Smith, Buddy Humphrey, Larry Stallings, Jerry Stovall, Joe Robb, Bill Thornton, Bill Triplett, Jimmy Burson, Ed Henke, Mal Hammack, and Bill Stacy. Get your custom set here.