Yesterday I added Littelfuse “Three Cheers for the #1 Linebackers” playing cards to the Vintage Football Card Gallery. These are the oddest of the oddballs: the numbered cards picture famous NFL linebackers, and the face cards picture electrical fuses! (I believe the idea is that Littelfuse fuses are line backers, too–and they’re excellent, so they’re #1.)
Eight NFL and AFL linebackers are pictured in the deck: George Connor, Bobby Bell, Sam Huff, Ray Nitschke, Dick Butkus, Bill George, Chuck Bednarik, and Joe Schmidt. Three of the eight are Chicago Bears. The Bears undoubtedly have had great linebackers, but Littelfuse is based in Chicago, and that might also have influenced the player selection. Each player appears on four cards: Dick Butkus is pictured on all of the 5′s, for example, and Ray Nitschke is on all of the 8′s.
There is no year printed on the cards themselves, and I couldn’t find a year for them on the internet. I emailed the company to see if they could tell me, and they sent a quick reply. They said that their best guess was the early 1980s, but that there were “only a few old people left to ask.” Judging by the player selection, my guess is that the cards are actually from the 1970s, or possibly even the 1960s. The youngest player in the deck, Bobby Bell, finished his career in 1974, and the top linebackers of the 70s–Ted Hendricks, Jack Ham, and Jack Lambert, to name three–are not included in the deck. If you happen to know what year the cards were distributed, or if you can narrow it down for me, please let me know.
For sake of completeness–and for my electrician friends out there–I scanned in all of the fuse cards, too. If I get a few more, maybe I’ll create a Vintage Fuse Card Gallery.
You can find lots more playing cards with football themes on eBay.