Friday, June 29, 2018

1963 Packers: At Their Peak

Topps football cards 1963 nil

Coming off the greatest season Vince Lombardi would every coach, the Packers found going for the 3rd straight title difficult.  The eventual champion Chicago Bears handed the Packers their only loses of the season and one tie versus the lowly Detroit Lions gave them a final record of 11-2-1.  The loss of Paul Hornung for the entire season due to gambling issues certainly took away one of the Packers most potent offensive weapons.  As a matter of fact, because of the suspension Hornung was not issued a card for that year, nor was Alex Karras of the Lions, who was also suspended for the entire season.

This custom 1963 Packer set reinstates the "Golden Boy" and offers 17 other Packer RetroCards who were absent from the regular set that year.  Zeke Bratkowski, Jerry Kramer, Hank Gremminger, Tom Moore, Ron Kostelnik, Bobby Jeter, Dan Currie, Willie Davis, Dave Robinson, Bob Skoronski, Jess Whittenton, Dave Hanner, Ken Iman, Norm Masters, Elijah Pitts, Marv Fleming, and Earl Gros are the subject of this attractive set.  Get it here!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Chuck Howley: Right Place, Right Time

Topps, Philadelphia cards, 1965 tallboys
Great defensive players seem to know how to be in the right place at the right time on the football field.  Chuck Howley had that special intuition and his knack for anticipation mixed with his speed made him indispensable on the Cowboys first Doomsday Defense.  One of the great play makers of his day, Chuck Howley played in 191 games over 15 seasons.  He was a seven-time All-Pro, a six-time Pro Bowler and has the dubious distinction of being the only Super Bowl MVP chosen from a losing team. Strangely, he is not in the NFL Hall Of Fame and is on a short list of players from his era who should be in the Hall.

A five-sport athlete at West Virginia, he was the 7th player taken in the 1958 draft by the Chicago Bears.  In 1959 he badly hurt his knee and retired.  By 1961, Cowboy coach Tom Landry caught wind of Howley’s recovery and took a gamble, trading a 2nd and 9th pick to obtain him. The gamble quickly paid off and Howley was an instant starter in 1961, missing only 4 games in the next 12 seasons. His speed was ideal for the weak side linebacker position but he was so athletic, he could play the strong side, cover speedy receivers, and rush the quarterback.

The Cowboys finally made it to the Super Bowl after the 1970 season and although the Cowboys lost a game they should have won, Howley managed to win the MVP award in what was labelled as the “Blunder Bowl.” Howley explained, “It was one of those kind of games when I was in the right place at the right time, all the time.  Even when I made mistakes and was out of position, I was in the right place.” He was in consideration for a consecutive MVP for Super Bowl VI but that prize went to the venerable Roger Staubach.

As his career wound down, so did the old Cowboy regime.  He retired after the 1972 season but Tom Landry convinced him to join the taxi squad in 1973 to mentor some of the young linebackers and retired for the third time at the end of the 1973 season.

His exclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is troubling but he is one of several fine players from the 1960s and 1970s that RetroCards will be featuring over time.  Check out Chuck Howley RetroCards that can be found in many Dallas Cowboys team sets.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

1963 Eagles: No Escaping The Cellar

Topps 1963 football cards

The 10-4 record of 1961 showed that their 1960 Championship was no fluke.  But by 1962, the franchise had dipped to last place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-10 record.  Injuries decimated the offense as Sonny Jurgensen struggled with the separated shoulder he suffered in the prior season's Playoff Bowl.  Receivers Pete Retzlaff, Bobby Walston , and Dick Lucas all sustained broken arms and Howard "Hopalong" Cassidy, acquired to bolster the receiving corps, when down with a broken leg. Ted Dean's broken foot crippled the offense further.  Timmy Brown and Tommy McDonald continued to thrill, but the Eagles still lost the final nine games.  1963 started with QBs Jurgensen and King Hill staging a joint holdout for more money leaving the team in a state of low morale as they stumbled to a 2-10-2 record in 1963.

This RetroCard set is expanded to include some key players on this underachieving team: Don Burroughs, Ted Dean, Howard Keys, Dick Lucas, Ray Mansfield, Jerry Mazzanti, Mike McClellan, George McKinney, Bill Quinlan, Nate Ramsey, Bobby Richards, Theron Sapp, Ben Scotti, Jim Schrader, Jim Skaggs, J.D. Smith, and John Wittenborn.  Coming Soon!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Tribute To Al McGuire: Series Two

Topps basketball

Part two of the spotlight on Al McGuire focuses on some of his contributions as an announcer and his knack for inventing new words and phrases for the sport of basketball.  His teams compiled an 295-80 record during his tenure at Marquette but many remember him for his back and forth banter with Billy Packer and Dick Enberg.  Some of his most memorable “McGuire-isms” are:

• air craft carrier – big man in the middle
• congratulate the temporary – live for the moment
• carnival gates are closed – the game is over
• white knuckled – close game
• french pastry – a showy move
• tailenders – walk on players
• cracked sidewalks – bad side of town
• dance hall player – short on talent, big on effort
• seashells and balloons – victory and happiness
• cloud piercer – a good jumping player

‘’I enjoyed only the game. I hated practice, recruiting, administration. Too many memos.’’  This was one of his quotes explaining the surprising retirement.  He announced the retirement in December of 1976 and Marquette struggled to make it into the tournament.  Once there, they played some of their best ball and completed a season only Hollywood could have written.  

A short list of Coach McGuires accomplishments:

• AP Coach of the Year 1971
• UPI Coach of the Year 1971
• USBWA Coach of the Year 1971
• NABC Coach of the Year 1974
• NCAA Champion 1977
• Regional Championships – Final Four 1974, 1977
• Pro basketball Hall of Fame

Series one focused on the earlier part of McGuires years at Marquette, while series two focuses on the glory days of 1973-1977.  Players in series tow include: Jim Boylan, Earl Tatum, Bo Ellis, Jerome Whitehead, Butch Lee, Lloyd Walton, Bernard Toone, Gary Rosenberger, and Ulice Payne.  Five more cards depict the Championship run of 1977 plus a coaching card featuring McGuire and assistant coaches Hank Raymonds and Rick Majerus. Coming soon!