Monday, December 28, 2009

Chicago Bears

Here are the 1967 Chicago Bears cards, including 3 future hall-of-famers. I got all but two of these cards (Roger LeClerc, Dick Butkus) back in 1967, so they are very scuffed up.

#25 Bears Team - Besides telling us that the 1966 Bears finished 5th in the Western Division with a 5-7-2 record, the back of this card says the Bears led the league in punting with 3558 yards (not one of the more coveted records!)

#26 Rudy Buckich - Although Buckich (here in his 13th season) is the quarterback featured on a card, Jack Concannon (acquired from the Eagles for Mike Ditka) was the starter in 1967.

#35 Gale Sayers - Sayers was the Bears leading rusher, and one of the best running backs in the league. A rookie in 1965, he was first-team All-Pro in each of his first 5 seasons, and led the league in rushing twice. His career was cut short by a knee injury, as he appeared in only 2 games in each of 1970 and 1971. Sayers was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

#27 Ron Bull - Bull won the NFL Rookie of the Year award in 1962 as a halfback. He switched to fullback with the arrival of Gale Sayers. Ron played for the Bears for 9 years, and finished his career with the Eagles in 1971.

#30 Dick Gordon - A rookie in 1965, Gordon played for the Bears for 7 seasons. His best season was in 1970, as he led the league in catches (71) and TDs (13). He also played for the Rams from 1972-73, the Packers in 1973, and the Chargers in 1974.

#29 Mike Ditka - Although featured on a Bears card, Ditka was traded to the Eagles for QB Jack Concannon prior to the 1967 season. Mike was the #1 draft pick for both the Bears and the AFL's Houston Oilers in 1961. He made the Pro Bowl 5 times, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988. After 6 seasons with the Bears and 2 with the Eagles, Ditka played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1969 to 1972.

#34 Mike Pyle - Pyle played his entire career with the Bears (1961-69) and was the starting center for each of those seasons.

#31 Roger LeClerc - Roger was the Bears' kicker from 1960 to 1966, and kicked for the Denver Broncos in 1967. In 1965, he led the NFL with 52 PATs. He also played occasionally at linebacker.

#28 Dick Butkus - One of the Bears' two first-round picks in 1965 (along with Gale Sayers), Butkus was a fixture at middle linebacker for the Bears from 1965 until a knee injury ended his career after 9 games in 1973. He made the Pro Bowl 8 times in his 9-year career, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979. Butkus was easily the toughest middle linebacker in NFL history. More on Butkus

#32 Bennie McRae - Bennie played 9 seasons with the Bears (1962-70), missing only 1 game during that time. He was the Bears' starting left cornerback from 1963-70. McRae finished his career with the Giants in 1971.

#33 Richie Petitbon - As a rookie in 1959, Petitbon was the Bears' starting "left defensive halfback" (cornerback). The following season, he took over the starting strong safety position and held it through the 1968 season. From 1969-1970 he was the Rams' strong safety. In 1971 and 1972, he played the same position for the Redskins, being part of coach George Allen's mass acquisition of ex-Rams.

#36 Bears Logo - George Halas was the owner and head coach of the Bears for decades - the Connie Mack of football!

Also check out the 1971 Bears.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Baltimore Colts

This Colts team is one year away from appearing in Super Bowl III vs. the New York Jets.

#13 Colts Team - The back of this card tells us that the Colts were on their way to the Western Conference championship in 1966, but "blew their chances", but that they did win the runner-up bowl. They also led the league in punting (which may be a dubious honor).

#23 Johnny Unitas - Unitas was the premier quarterback of the 1950s and 1960s. He's already played 11 years, and in 9 Pro Bowls! For some reason, he's wearing a helmet in this photo. I noticed that out of 160 player cards in the 1967 set, only 12 players are wearing helmets:

7 Giants
2 Saints (who are photographed in their 1966 Giants' uniform)
3 Colts
Weird obsession with the Giants! (Although I must admit, I like the look of the Giants' helmets.)

#21 Tom Matte - Matte is entering his 7th year. In 1965, he was the Colts' emergency quarterback, as both Johnny Unitas and backup Gary Cuozzo were out with injuries.

#18 Tony Lorick - Lorick led the Colts in rushing in 1966, his 3rd season in the league.

#14 Ray Berry - Here is the card for Colts' split end Ray Berry. The only problem is that it's been hijacked by Colts' cornerback #40 Bob Boyd. Ray Berry led the Colts in receiving in 1966, and had 7 TDs. This card tells us that Berry holds just about every Colts' receiving record.

#20 John Mackey - 1967 was Mackey's 5th season in the NFL. In his first 4 seasons, he made the Pro Bowl 3 times, and in 1966 was named All-League by all 3 news services (AP, NEA, UPI). ("All-League" was more elite than the Pro Bowl.) Mackey and the Bears' Mike Ditka were the premier tight ends of the time.

(No offensive linemen or linebackers, due to 3 defensive backs being featured)

#22 Lou Michaels - This 10-year pro was the Colts' kicker and starting defensive end. He was the 4th highest scorer in the NFL in 1966. (He would soon be replaced at DE by rookie Bubba Smith.)

#16 Ordell Braase - Braase (pronounced BRAY-see) was the Colts' other starting defensive end. In 1966, he made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his 10-year career.

#15 Bob Boyd - Boyd was one of Baltimore's starting cornerbacks. In 1966 (his 7th season), he was named All-League by UPI.

#19 Lenny Lyles - Lyles made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 1966, his 9th season. He began as a kick returner, and eventually moved up to starting cornerback.

#17 Alvin Haymond - Haymond's main responsibility was returning punts, but the back of this card tells us that he won a full time job (must have been at safety) in 1966. No matter, in 1968 he was traded to the Eagles for running back Timmy Brown.

#24 Colts Logo - And here we have the Colts logo card, chock full of history:
Doesn't that last paragraph just make you proud to be an American and/or a football fan? ;/

So there are the 1967 Colts. I got all these cards in 1967 except for Michaels and Lyles, so those 2 cards are in much better condition.

Next time: Chicago Bears

Friday, December 4, 2009

Atlanta Falcons

Here are the Falcons players with cards for 1967. This is only the Falcons' 2nd year in the league, so some player photos still show them in their previous team's uniform.

#1 Falcons Team - Some teams pose their players in numerical order. The Falcons chose not to.

#4 Randy Johnson - The back of this card tells us that Randy was the Falcons bonus pick in the first round of the college draft. He was the Falcons' first starting QB. After Johnson's tenure, the Falcons essentially "borrowed" Bob Berry from the Vikings until Steve Bartkowski came along as the Falcons' first "good" starting QB.

#2 Junior Coffey - Coffey led the team in rushing in its inaugural 1966 season.

#11 Ernie Wheelwright - Ernie was obtained from the New York Giants. After his playing career, he appeared in various TV shows and movies, including "The Longest Yard". This is one of the few 1967 cards I didn't get back in 1967, so it doesn't have the scuffing that is seen on many of these other cards.

#3 Alex Hawkins - Hawkins played split end and flanker (1960's terminology for wide receiver).

#6 Billy Martin - Martin's position is listed as "End". One thing that annoyed me about these cards back then was that the player's position wasn't always clear. Tight ends, split ends, and sometimes even defensive ends were all listed as "End", offensive AND defensive tackles were listed as "Tackle", and cornerbacks and safeties were both listed as "Defensive back". In Billy Martin's case, it is revealed on the back that he's a tight end.

#5 Lou Kirouac - Ahh, the good old days... when kickers also played another position, and weren't just some lightweight ex-soccer player. Some were even hulking linemen, like Lou Kirouac! As you can see, Lou formerly played for the Colts.

#7 Tommy Nobis - Remember my "positions" rant in the Billy Martin section above? For some reason, back in the day I took it upon myself to document that Nobis was indeed a middle linebacker. For good measure, I also wrote his #60 on the card. ... Kids!
I didn't like Nobis in the early 1970s. I think it was because he was always considered a better middle linebacker than the Eagles' Bill Bergey (which was probably true). I mean, nobody could dispute Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, or Willie Lanier, but ... Tommy Nobis?

#9 Marion Rushing - Here's a non-descript outside linebacker. Look how clean his uniform is! (It almost looks like a Cardinals' uniform.)

#8 Jerry Richardson - Jerry led the Falcons in interceptions in 1966. Was he a cornerback? A free safety? Who knows?

#10 Ron Smith - Smith led the league in kickoff returns in 1966, and also led the Falcons in punt returns. I suppose that's "code" for "I'm not a starting defensive back". Smith (along with Ernie Wheelwright) is 1 of the 2 Falcons cards that I got many years after 1967.

#12 Falcons Logo - Each team's cards wrap up with a logo card. The back of these cards include interesting tidbits about the team, such as:
(click to enlarge)

I've included the back of the team card as a 1-time sample. The left side always has a short summary of the previous season, and the right side has a referee signal.

Here is the back of a typical player card. In 1967, no player stats appeared on the card backs. All player cards have a rub-off quiz on the left side, with the right side containing biographical information, followed by a summary of the player's previous exploits.
Every card has a blank area below the biographical information. This is where some cards note which players made All-League or the Pro Bowl. A few (like Fran Tarkenton) have a "traded" note here.

Also check out the 1971 Falcons.

Next time: Baltimore Colts

Welcome to my 1967 football card blog!

1967 was when I began collecting football cards. I started almost by accident, as the usual corner store where I bought baseball cards stopped selling them before the last series was issued. I went around the block to another corner store (which I had never been to before) seeking baseball cards. They didn't have any, but they did have the 1967 NFL cards.

So, what's a boy to do? I ended up with most of the cards that Fall. In the 1980s, I trimmed about a dozen cards off my want list at card shops, and now I have all but 2 (Don Meredith, Bart Starr) [as of 3/19/10] of the 198 cards in the set.

Anyway, I started this blog to post my football card collection, and to reminisce on certain teams and players. I also have all but a few of the '68, '71, and '72 cards, which will be the topics for other blogs.

Even though I began collecting football cards in 1967, I didn't actually follow pro football until near the end of the 1970 season. Super Bowl V was the first one I watched, but thanks to the magic of NFL Films and ESPN, I can probably now recite the starting lineups for the all the teams in Super Bowls I thru VI !

Aside from a few Eagles cards from the mid-to-late 1970s, I haven't collected any football cards after the 1973 set. These vintage cards do bring back some good memories, though.

Prior to 1973, only about 10 players per team were featured on football cards each year, usually at least one player from each position group: quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, defensive back, kicker. The cards were issued in 2 series of about 100 cards each.

From 1964 to 1967, the Philadelphia Gum Company issued the NFL cards, while Topps issued the AFL cards. After 1967, Topps regained the NFL license and issued a combined NFL/AFL set, as they had done prior to 1964. The Philadelphia cards were grouped alphabetically by team, meaning the card sequence was all the Atlanta cards, followed by all the Baltimore cards, then Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, etc.

I'm going to include all the cards for a team in one post, so it won't take forever to complete the series.

In 1967, the cards were arranged alphabetically by team. Within each team, there was a team photo card, followed by 10 players (alphabetically), and ending with a team logo card. I'm going to present the players not alphabetically, but by position (QB, HB, FB, WR, TE, C, G, T, K, DE, DT, MLB, LB, DB, P).

I'm also not going to scan the card backs, except for the team logo cards, which include some interesting information about each team. I'll include a sample back for a player card and a team photo card, in the first post only.

First up: Atlanta Falcons