View Full Version : Football Cards at Football Practice - CONTEST ENTRY

09-22-2010, 03:44 PM
Football Cards at Football Practice
by CamaroDMD


When I was in the fifth grade, I played flag football for my elementary school team. I got out of school at 2:40pm and practice started at 3:15 at a local park a few blocks away. Between the school and the park was a small locally owned convenience store. My friends and I would stop there each day on the way to practice and buy a pack of football cards along with a piece of candy. They had a couple different types, typically Upper Deck, Skybox and Topps products. My favorite was the 1994 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice and that’s what I almost always bought.

I would open my pack right there in the store to see what I got. I remember one day in particular, I pulled a base Randall Cunningham and was really excited when I saw it, then I flipped to the next card and it was Emmitt Smith! It was a great moment for a nine year old. We would then proceed to the park where practice was to begin. Usually, we had a few minutes prior to practice for my friends and I to look at what we had gotten in our packs and made any trades that we wanted.

Typically, the trading was pretty straight forward. We all liked different teams or players and we tried to work on our collections. I recall one trade being particularly exciting. 1995 Upper Deck had just been released and we all bought a pack to see what they were. Upon opening my pack, I pulled a Dan Marino predictor. I thought it was a good pull; trouble was I didn’t collect Marino but I wouldn’t let it go for nothing. But, I was in luck. One of my teammates had pulled a Joe Montana trilogy header card and I was a huge Joe Montana collector. Unfortunately, I had made that fact very publically known in past trading. At the age of nine, we were just starting to learn that the more someone wants something…the more they are willing to pay. My friend took full advantage of this. I offered him the Marino in exchange for the Montana and he quickly turned it down. I then offered him the entire contents of my pack from that day. I recall it didn’t have any other significant cards, there was a common Electric Silver parallel but that was it. Again, he turned it down. So I asked him what he wanted. After a moment of thinking, he said he would trade it for my whole pack today and for my unopened pack tomorrow. Well, unopened packs were like gold to us, the possibilities were endless. It was a hard spot to be in. Finally, I told him I would do that if I also kept the Marino predictor. He agreed, and I went for a day without a pack of cards.

It was times like this that made collecting truly a joy for me. It was an opportunity for friends to come together and enjoy the hobby. It almost feels like I came from the final generation where trading just for fun happened. Today, sports cards are full of amazing products. This includes game used, autographed, and whatever else the companies can dream up. But with this great leap in quality, I think some of the purity has been drained from the cards. When I traded with my friends before football practice, it was just about the players and teams we liked. For the most part, the most valuable card we ever pulled was worth no more than five dollars. So, value wasn’t an issue. The cards were basically worthless and as a result it was just about what we liked. Today, trading has a lot of “value” associated with it and that takes out some of the joy in my eyes. I'm glad I grew up in a time when the cards were greatly overproduced and thus worth next to nothing. That allowed me to have great childhood memories of trading with my friends after school. In all honesty, what eventually pushed me from this hobby for nearly a decade was this change to ultra-low numbered cards and high values. The simple joy of collecting and trading for players solely because we liked them was gone.

09-22-2010, 10:51 PM