Player Deaths

John Guzik, Rams and Oilers Linebacker

February 3rd, 2012  |  Published in Player Deaths

John Guzik, who played linebacker from 1959 to 1961 for the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Oilers, passed away on January 22. Guzik was a first team All-American guard at the University of Pittsburgh, but his pro career was shortened by injuries. There is an interview with Guzik and a summary of his career on the NFL Former Players blog.

Guzik never appeared on a regular issue football card, but he did appear on the 1959 and 1960 Bell Brand Rams cards pictured here. These scarce cards were distributed regionally in bags of Bell Brand potato chips and corn chips; you can read more about them in my article about regional sets. You can see that Guzik switched from number 60 to number 65 in 1960. He apparently gave number 60 to rookie Jerry Stalcup, who had worn number 60 at the University of Wisconsin.
John Guzik 1959 Bell Brand Rams football cardJohn Guzik 1960 Bell Brand Rams football card

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Greg Cook, Bengals Quarterback

January 27th, 2012  |  Published in Player Deaths

Greg Cook, a quarterback with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1969 to 1974, has passed away. Cook was an American Football League Co-Rookie of the Year in 1969, but he suffered an injury during the 1969 season from which he never fully recovered. He led the AFL in passer rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt, and yards per completion in 1969. After the 1969 season, he appeared in just one regular season game, in 1973.

Pictured here are Cook’s rookie card, a 1970 Topps, and his 1969 Tresler Comet Bengals pre-rookie card. Cook also appeared on several other cards in 1970, all of which showed the same image as his regular-issue Topps card. You can see all of Greg Cook’s football cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.
Greg Cook 1970 Topps rookie football cardGreg Cook 1969 Tresler Comet pre-rookie football card

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Clarence Self, Cardinals, Lions, and Packers Back

January 24th, 2012  |  Published in Player Deaths

Clarence Self 1948 Leaf football cardClarence Self, a back from 1949 to 1955 for the Chicago Cardinals, Detroit Lions, and Green Bay Packers, passed away on January 21. Self played college football at Wisconsin, and he still holds the school record for kickoff return yards in a game, with 178.

Self appeared on one football card, the 1948 Leaf card pictured here, while still at Wisconsin. It is one of the scarce high-numbered cards in the set. 1948 Leaf cards were printed on two sheets, one holding cards 1-49 and the other holding cards 50-98, and Leaf apparently printed the second sheet in much smaller quantities. The Self card is number 78.

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Joe Paterno’s Brown University Football Card

January 22nd, 2012  |  Published in Brothers, Player Deaths

Joe Paterno 1950 Topps Felt Back rookie football cardJoe Paterno did not play professional football, but he was a quarterback and defensive back in college, at Brown University. He appeared on one football card, the tiny 1950 Topps Felt Back pictured here. The image on the card resembles the one in a photo on the Sports Illustrated web site; my guess is that they were from the same photo session.

According to the Sports Illustrated page, Paterno’s record as a quarterback was 15-3 over two seasons, 1948 and 1949. He also intercepted 14 passes in his college career, still a school record. (He shares the record with Greg Parker.)

One of Paterno’s teammates at Brown was his brother George, who played fullback. George Paterno led the team in rushing in 1949, with 480 yards. From 1976 to 1999, George was a broadcaster for Penn State football. He passed away in 2002.

You can see all of the 1950 Topps Felt Back cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

Mike Current, Broncos, Buccaneers, and Dolphins Tackle

January 17th, 2012  |  Published in Player Deaths

Mike Current, a tackle for 13 seasons with the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Miami Dolphins, has passed away. According to his page at bucpower.com, Current started 105 consecutive games for the Broncos and played in a total of 169 AFL and NFL games. Current was elected to the AFL West All-Star team after the 1969 season.

The cards pictured here are Current’s rookie card, a 1970 Topps, and his last card, a 1976 Topps. You can see all of Current’s cards and stamps in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.
Mike Current 1970 Topps rookie football cardMike Current 1976 Topps football card

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Houston Antwine, Patriots and Eagles Defensive Lineman

December 27th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Houston Antwine, a defensive lineman from 1961 to 1972 for the Boston/New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, passed away last night, according to the Boston Globe web site. His wife passed away today. Antwine was an American Football League All-Star six straight seasons, from 1963 to 1968.

Antwine appeared on numerous football cards and stamps during his career. The cards pictured here are his rookie card, a 1964 Topps, and his last card, a 1970 Topps. You can see all of Antwine’s cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.
Houston Antwine 1964 Topps rookie football cardHouston Antwine 1970 Topps football card

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Clyde Conner, 49ers End

December 24th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Clyde Conner 1957 Topps rookie football cardClyde Conner, an end for the San Francisco 49ers from 1956 to 1963, passed away on December 12. There is an article about Conner on the San Francisco Chronicle web site. Connor’s best season was 1958, when he caught 49 passes for 512 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The card shown here is Conner’s rookie card, a 1957 Topps, issued in his second season. He would appear on several more cards in his career, and on at least one team issue photo. You can see all of Clyde Conner’s cards in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

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Bill “Red” Moore, Steelers Guard

December 23rd, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Bill "Red" Moore 1948 Bowman football cardBill “Red” Moore, a guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1947 to 1949, passed away on December 14. The Beaver County (Pennsylvania) Times web site has a report.

Moore appeared on one football card, the 1948 Bowman card pictured here.

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Glen Holloway, Bears and Browns Guard

December 22nd, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Glen Holloway 1973 Topps football cardGlen Holloway, a guard from 1970 to 1974 for the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns, passed away on December 20. The Corpus Christi Caller Times web site has a report. Holloway also played one season for the World Football League’s Shreveport Steamer, according to the article.

Holloway appeared on one football card, the 1973 Topps card pictured here. He also appeared on a 1972 Sunoco stamp.

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Bill Stits, Lions, 49ers, Redskins, and Giants Back

December 20th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Bill Stits, who played in the NFL from 1954 to 1961 for the Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins, and New York Giants, passed away on December 5. At various times in his career, Stits was a defensive back, running back, punt returner, and kick returner. He intercepted six passes and recovered a fumble in his rookie season in Detroit, and he made the Pro Bowl that year.

The cards pictured here are Stit’s rookie card, a 1954 Bowman, and his 1956 Topps card. He also appeared on two 49ers team issue photos, in 1957 and 1958. I don’t yet have his 1957 photo, but can see his 1958 photo in the Vintage Football Card Gallery.
Bill Stits 1954 Bowman rookie football cardBill Stits 1956 Topps football card

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Harley Sewell, Lions and Rams Guard

December 19th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Harley Sewell, who played guard from 1953 to 1963 for the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams, passed away on December 17. The Austin Statesman web site has a report. Sewell was selected for the Pro Bowl four times while with Detroit, and he played on the Lions’ NFL Championship teams of 1953 and 1957.

The cards pictured here are Sewell’s rookie card, a 1953 Bowman, and his last card, a 1963 Topps. The 1953 card is evidence that Sewell was highly regarded coming out of college, because it was unusual in the 1950s for a player, especially a lineman, to appear on a card in his rookie season. The 1963 card pictures him still with the Lions, but he played for the Rams in 1963. He also appeared on a 1959 Topps card and a 1962 Post Cereal card.
Harley Sewell 1953 Bowman rookie football cardHarley Sewell 1963 Topps football card

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Nolan Luhn, Green Bay Packers End

November 30th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Nolan Luhn 1948 Bowman football cardNolan Luhn, an end for the Green Bay Packers from 1945 to 1949, passed away on November 27. The whiotv.com web site has a short report.

To my knowledge, Luhn appeared on just one football card, the 1948 Bowman card pictured here. 1948 Bowman cards with numbers divisible by 3 were short-printed, and Luhn’s card, number 9, is one of the scarcest cards in the set. See my 1948 Bowman virtual uncut sheet page for details.

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Lenny Lyles, Colts and 49ers Back and Kick Returner

November 21st, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Lenny Lyles 1967 Philadelphia rookie football cardLenny Lyles, a back and kick returner from 1958 to 1969 for the Baltimore Colts and San Francisco 49ers, passed away on November 20. The Louisville Courier-Journal web site has a report of his death and a recent photo. Lyles was a Pro Bowler in 1966, and he played in Super Bowl III, which the Colts lost to the New York Jets.

The card pictured here is Lyles’s rookie card, a 1967 Philadelphia, issued in his tenth season in the NFL. He also appeared on a 1968 Topps card, a 1969 Topps card, and a 1969 Glendale stamp.

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Tom Watkins, Browns, Lions, and Steelers Running Back and Kick Returner

November 1st, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Tom Watkins, running back and kick returner from 1961 to 1968 for the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and Pittsburgh Steelers, passed away on October 29. Watkins led the NFL in yards per punt return in 1964, and in yards per kickoff return in 1965. Watkins is a member of the Iowa State University Athletics Hall of Fame, and there is a summary of his football career on the Iowa State web site.

Watkins is pictured here on his first two football cards: a scarce 1961 National City Bank Browns card and a 1965 Philadelphia card. The 1965 Philadelphia card, though it came four years later, is considered his rookie card because it was produced by a major card company. Watkins also appeared on a 1966 Philadelphia card and a 1968 Topps card. His 1968 Topps card has him with the Rams, but he actually played for the Steelers that year.
Tom Watkins 1961 National City Bank Browns football cardTom Watkins 1965 Philadelphia rookie football card

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Greg Gantt, New York Jets Punter

October 27th, 2011  |  Published in Player Deaths

Greg Gantt 1976 Topps football cardGreg Gantt, punter for the New York Jets in 1974 and 1975, passed away on October 26, according to al.com. Gantt apparently was also the Jets’ backup kicker, because he scored an extra point in 1974.

At Alabama, Gantt led the SEC in punting for three straight years. He still holds the school records for single season and career punting average. Unfortunately, he is most famous for having two punts blocked and returned for touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a 17-16 loss to Auburn. The game was nicknamed the Punt, ‘Bama, Punt game.

Gantt is pictured here on his 1976 Topps football card. It was issued the year after his last NFL season–not an unusual occurrence.

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