George Blanda, Bears, Oilers, and Raiders Quarterback and Kicker

September 27th, 2010  |  Published in Player Deaths

Most NFL fans have heard by now that George Blanda passed away today. The first notice I read was on the San Francisco Chronicle web site. The news is sad for me: I was a Raiders fan in the late 60s and 70s, so I watched Blanda play on many Sunday afternoons. I remember well his heroics in 1970, especially the game against the Browns, which I watched with my grandmother. She jumped out of her seat when he kicked a 52-yarder in the waning seconds to win the game.

The sports pages and TV shows will undoubtedly cover Blanda’s career in detail over the next few days, so I won’t attempt to do that here. Instead I’ll just show you his cards. He played for 26 years, so he appeared on a lot of them. I have most of them, but I am missing a couple from the end of his career. Pick any thumbnail image to see a larger version.

1954 Bowman George Blanda rookie football card1955 Bowman George Blanda football card1956 Topps George Blanda football card1957 Topps George Blanda football card1958 Topps George Blanda football card1960 Fleer George Blanda football card1961 Fleer George Blanda football card1961 Fleer Wallet Picture of George Blanda1961 Topps George Blanda football card1962 Fleer George Blanda football card1963 Fleer George Blanda football card1964 Topps George Blanda football card1965 Topps George Blanda football card1966 Topps George Blanda football card1968 Topps George Blanda football card1969 Topps George Blanda football card1969 Topps 4-in-1 George Blanda1971 Topps George Blanda football card1972 NFLPA Iron-On George Blanda1972 Sunoco Stamp of George Blanda1972 Topps George Blanda football card1972 Topps George Blanda Pro Action football card1973 Topps George Blanda football card1975 Topps George Blanda football card

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Q is for Quarterbacks

December 11th, 2009  |  Published in ABCs of Vintage Football Cards

Card companies love quarterbacks, and quarterbacks appear on more than their share of vintage cards. This isn’t surprising, since quarterbacks are typically the most recognizable members of their teams. Even considering that, at times the card companies have gone a little quarterback crazy. As I wrote in other posts, the only two Packers in the 1953 Bowman set are quarterbacks, and there are four Bears quarterbacks in the 1957 Topps set.

One set that isn’t quarterback crazy is the 1935 National Chicle set. Only 2 of the 36 National Chicle cards are quarterbacks. In 1935, football was still primarily a running game, with rushing attempts outnumbering passing attempts 2.5 to 1, and rushing yards exceeding passing yards 1.5 to 1. By 1948, when the next major football card issues were released, these ratios had changed dramatically, and total passing yards for the league had surpassed total rushing yards. Football cards reflected this shift: the 1948 Bowman set, for example, includes 17 quarterbacks for 10 teams. The black-and-white “Pitchin'” Paul Christman card shown here is from the 1948 Bowman set.

As the passing game emerged, quarterbacks also became more photogenic. On nearly all old quarterback cards, the quarterback is holding the ball, and in most cases, he’s ready to pass. He’s often straining to throw it past imaginary defenders: running, jumping, and otherwise contorting himself. Sometimes an artist would even enhance the contortions. Check out John Huarte’s 1965 Topps card–he looks like a puppet!

Quarterbacks also have lots of stats, of course, and fans love stats. I actually remember being disappointed as a kid when I turned over a lineman’s card and didn’t see any stats. Quarterbacks have relatively long careers, also, and that makes for plenty of material for the backs of the cards.

Interestingly, it seems that the card companies were more apt to put unproven quarterbacks on cards than players from other positions. In 1957, for example, Topps printed a card of Cardinals quarterback Paul Larson, but not one of Lamar MaHan, who had been the Cardinals’ starting quarterback for three years. McHan remained the starter in 1957, and Larson threw just 14 passes. In 1960, Fleer printed another card of Larson, this time with the Raiders. The Raiders’ starting quarterback in 1960 were Tom Flores and Babe Parilli, but they did not appear in the 1960 Fleer set. Larson appeared in only one game, and he did not throw a pass.

By contrast, defensive players (see D is for Defensive Players) and offensive linemen usually had to play well for a few years before the card companies would put them on cards. I suppose that the card companies, in order to maximize sales, simply printed cards of players with the greatest name recognition. Quarterbacks might be well-known right out of college, while other players in other positions needed to play in the pros for a while before becoming household names.

To query the Vintage Football Gallery for all of the quarterbacks from your favorite team, just use an address of this form: This works for other positions, as well.

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O is for Oddball

November 21st, 2009  |  Published in ABCs of Vintage Football Cards, Oddball

To a card collector, “oddballs” are collectible items that have some characteristics of cards–small size, two dimensions, pictures of players, team logos, and so on–but are not traditional trading cards. Some examples are coins, bottle caps, cap liners, discs, stamps, stickers, patches, pins, and playing cards. Many of them came on or in packages of food. Some were regional and featured a particular team.

I distinguish oddball items from inserts (see I is for Inserts), though some inserts also fit the description above. Why? Well, since inserts came in packs of cards, most of them are familiar to collectors, and there are enough of them to group them into a category of their own. Oddball items are the unfamiliar, the hard to categorize, the things that go under “miscellaneous.” They have brand names you might never have heard of, like Glendale and Drenks and Salada.

Any number of items can be considered oddball, and I’ll list just a few here. I don’t collect many of them–you have to draw a line somewhere–so I’ll mostly provide links to other places. The only oddballs I have in my collection are playing cards and stamps, which aren’t too far removed from trading cards.


Raymond Berry 1964 Wheaties StampI am familiar four sets of vintage football stamps that were not inserts, and there are probably more. You can see 1964 Wheaties Stamps, 1969 Glendale Stamps, and 1972 Sunoco Stamps in the Vintage Football Card Gallery, and there is also a set of 1972 NFLPA Wonderful World Stamps, which I don’t yet have. Each of the sets had an accompanying album into which you could stick the stamps. A 1964 Wheaties stamp of Raymond Berry is pictured here.


1976 was the year of the disc. Five sets of football discs were printed that year: Coke Bears Discs, Crane (potato chip) Discs, Buckman Discs, Saga Discs, and Pepsi Discs.

1976 is newer than I typically deal with, and I have never had much interest in the discs, so I don’t know a lot about them. I assume that the same company printed all of them, since I don’t know of any others printed before or since 1976. A friend sent me a couple of Crane Discs once; they’re about the size of a beer coaster. Pictured here is one of them, Charley Taylor.

The PSA registry shows all of the players in the disc sets, and you can see lots of examples on eBay.

Playing Cards

I initially included playing cards under Oddball items, but there are enough of them that I thought they deserved their own category. See P is also for Playing Cards for a list of vintage playing cards that picture NFL and college football players.

Other Oddballs

As I said at the top, I don’t own many oddball items, and my knowledge of them is limited. Here are a few more, along with links to the set compositions and some examples. As I learn more about them, I’ll give these oddballs sections of their own. If I am missing your favorite, let me know and I’ll add it here.

Oddball Set Set Composition Examples Notes
1962-63 Salada Coins PSA Set Registry eBay Attractive plastic coins, came with Salada Tea.
1963 Nalley’s Coins (CFL) ? eBay Cool plastic coins of CFL players, distributed in Nalley’s Potato Chips.
1964 Nalley’s Coins (CFL) PSA Set Registry eBay Mo’ Nalley’s
1963 Rich Dairy Cap Liners (Bills) PSA Set Registry PSA Set Registry Creepy, floating Bills’ heads.
1965 Coke Caps ? eBay More floating heads.
1966 Coke Caps ? eBay Still more floating heads.
1969 Drenks Pins (Packers) PSA Set Registry eBay Distributed in Drenk’s Potato Chips
1972 NFLPA Iron Ons SGC Set Registry eBay Sometimes called “fabric cards.” To card collectors, everything’s a card.
1972 NFLPA Vinyl Stickers SGC Set Registry eBay I never much liked the big heads on little cartoon bodies concept. See the George Blanda sticker above.
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Trivia Question #4

October 26th, 2009  |  Published in Trivia Questions

Here is the latest trivia question.

Question #4: What do the four players pictured on these 1958 Topps football cards have in common?

Scroll down slowly; the answer is after the sponsored links. For more information on a card, click on it or hold your cursor over it.

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Answer: All of them were out of football in 1959, but each of them came back to join an AFL team in 1960. Carmichael went to the Broncos, Blanda and Waller to the Oilers, and Wells to the Patriots.

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Trivia Question #1

October 18th, 2009  |  Published in Trivia Questions

I pick up bits of trivia here and there, and I thought I’d pass them on via a quiz. The questions will be about the players, not the football cards, so you don’t have to be a card collector to answer them. (You can probably find some of the answers on cards, though.)

So here we go, Question #1: What do the five players pictured here have in common? Scroll down slowly; the answer is after the strategically placed sponsored links.

For more information on a card, click on it or hold your cursor over it.

Sponsored Links

Answer: They share the record for the most touchdown passes in a game, with 7. Nope, no Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning! Source: NFL Passing Records page of

  • Sid Luckman, Chi. Bears vs. N.Y. Giants, Nov. 14, 1943
  • Adrian Burk, Philadelphia vs. Washington, Oct. 17, 1954
  • George Blanda, Houston vs. N.Y. Titans, Nov. 19, 1961
  • Y.A. Tittle, N.Y. Giants vs. Washington, Oct. 28, 1962
  • Joe Kapp, Minnesota vs. Baltimore, Sept. 28, 1969
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