I'm getting down to the nitty gritty in the collection of unopened packs I own, so here's a really bad set, 1990 Topps Football. To me it seems that Topps was still operating under its 1981 paradigm. How stupid could they be? Pro Set arrived a year earlier and was blowing Topps out of the water. Score was in the mix, too. Yet they thought they could still come hard and strong with a set 90% of which was comprised of guys standing around with their helmets off. Exciting.
Let's tear in.
Top to Bottom:
506 Buccaneers Team (Ugh, could I have gotten off to a worse start?)
236 Kevin Haverdink
524 Redskins Team
299 Chip Banks
479 Jessie Tuggle
292 Scott Davis (...who had apparently gone skydiving without a helmet before taking his seat on the sideline.)
520 Packers Team -- "A Bit of Packer 'Majik'" (More on this later.)
2 1000 Yard Club Christian Okoye
252 Jonathan Hayes
88 Jerome Brown (Solid DT.)
164 David Grayson
38 Vance Johnson
407 Vinny Testaverde (Yes!)
359 Jason Phillips
263 Neil Smith
274 Tim McGee
The Packers Team card raises the grade a full letter, but that ain't saying much. This might actually be the perfect time of year to reflect on the 1989 NFL season and the way it introduced me to the heart-breaking realities of sports fandom and, to a different extent, life in general.
Monday, December 25, 1989, Vikings v. Bengals. Playoff spots are on the line for four teams based on the outcome of this game, the last one of the regular season. Both of the teams on the field need the win to eke their way in. At home wait the Green Bay Packers, a team who has not gotten even a sniff of Lady Playoff's panties since 1982, and that doesn't count because it was the strike season. To find a real playoff appearance, you needed to reach back another decade to 1972, and to top that, the Packers' last real playoff victory was Super Bowl II. Suffice it to say, my lifetime was one without any Packer success to speak of. On the other side of the coin sat the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were hoping the Vikings would defeat the Bengals so they could back into the playoffs. Packers fans crossed their fingers that the Bengals could pull off some more Boomer Esiason magic and allow the Pack to win the NFC Central.
ABC television was smart enough to capture footage of the respective Monday Night Football parties. On the one hand, we got to see Tim Harris' house, where he was playing pool with the guys. Halfway across the country you had a sorry-looking group of Steelers and their families crowded onto a single couch, spilling things, wearing bad sweaters, and cursing at children. Well, maybe not the last one, but I knew which party I'd rather be at.
In the end the Vikings (an organization rated on my Vile-O-Meter just behind the KKK) came out on top, depriving me of experiencing my team in a meaningful NFL game for another few years. Still, it was a wonderful time to cheer on Don Majkowski and his magic mullet.
For more on another Christmas NFL miracle, visit Thorzul Will Rule and its Card-vent Calendar, to be updated sometime later today.