Friday, July 22, 2016

Going Off to Summer Camp

We're in the thick of baseball season - the All-Star break is over, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony is coming up this weekend and trade rumors are flying around in such a constant stream that they are almost palpable.  In short, baseball is pretty much the only game in town when it comes to sports fans right now.

That said, the NFL has something to say about that.

The off-season is almost officially over for our gridiron heroes, with many team training camps set to officially kick off in the next week or so; for my Chicago Bears, that official date is July 27th.  Honestly, my football fandom is no where near as fervent as my love for baseball and this development kind of snuck up on me.  It wasn't until I saw this tweet come across my feed, courtesy of the Bears Twitter account:

Now, during the Cubs' lean years of a few seasons ago, I might have actually been aware - not so much when they're the best team in baseball.

At any rate, this sudden realization seems like as good of an excuse as any to show off the latest additions that I've made to my Chicago Bears All-Time Roster Collection.  Remember, I'm so crazy that trying to collect one card of everyone who's played for the Cubs over the last 130+ years isn't enough to occupy my time - I'm chasing the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and NASCAR too.  I'll definitely never get bored with my collection!

It's appropriate that these two singles from Topps 50th anniversary set in 2005 feature pre-season shots, seeing as we are just about to begin that pre-season again 11 years later.  Of course, we shan't be seeing anymore Topps football sets, which is a major bummer.  Curse you exclusive licensing deals!!

Both of the players above were pretty disappointing draft picks.  Mark Bradley was a member of the best Bears team of my lifetime - the 2005 squad which made the Superbowl; however, Due to a season-ending injury he only started 8 games. From there, he couldn't stay healthy and bounced around the league.  Meanwhile, Airese Currie spent nearly all of his two season career in the NFL on injured reserve, getting into only a single game during the 2006 campaign before his release.

Here's a 2009 Upper Deck card that I won on Listia without emptying all of my store credit because Jarron Gilbert is another long-forgotten and barely there Chicago Bear.  The inflation on Listia is crazy lately, am I right?

Gilbert was drafted by the Monsters of the Midway in third round of the 2009 draft out of San Jose State.  Despite gaining widespread internet notoriety for a YouTube video showing him jumping out of a swimming pool, his entire Chicago football career amounted to four games played, with no starts and a singular tackle.  After a couple more seasons of waiver claims and practice squads, Gilbert was completely "drained" of chances.

Unfortunately, great athletic ability doesn't always translate.

I guess if internet famous made you a great football player, the NFL would currently include such megastars as Rebecca Black, the Fine Brothers and, my personal favorite, Llamas With Hats roaming the backfield.

Alright, here we go; we've got some actual star power here in Mike Richardson, a cornerback on the only Superbowl champion squad to come from the Windy City.  I'm actually fairly embarrassed to say that there was a Superbowl Shuffler left unrepresented in my Bears collection for so long - any longer and I might have had to turn in my Chicago sports fan card.  this one came out of a quarter box at my LCS.

Of course, this square, over-sized oddball didn't come from Topps or Upper Deck.  As you can see from the Golden Arches in the upper left, these were distributed through local McDonald's "restaurants" after that storied season.  They originally came with colored tabs on the bottom, as you can see by the perforation, which featured special offer coupons.  I hope someone got themselves a free Big Mac out of "L.A. Mike" back in 1986.

No - not that Big Mac!  Jeeze.

Speaking of the 1985 Bears, here's another guy who had previously eluded my grasp.  Well, only partially, seeing as I had a card of him during his time with the Washington Redskins lying around. However, it almost felt disrespectful not to have a card of Wilber Marshall in a Bears uniform. Thankfully, a dollar store repack, of all things, corrected that issue.

I mean, it was the only useful card out of all of these, but c'est la vie

1986 Topps is easily in my top five favorite football sets of all-time.  I love the simulated gridiron as a background and, in general, one doesn't see many green bordered sets in the trading card world, regardless of sport.  Major creativity points on this one.

Also, again, RIP Topps football  :(

These next two cards also came out of that same quarter box as the Richardson.  They might not feature Chicago Bears uniforms, but both of these players did eventually blow into the Windy City, trust me.  Neither one lasted very long, so there aren't any cards that depict them wearing the orange and blue; so, these will have to do.

As you can see, Archuleta was a 2001 draft pick out of Arizona State as a safety.  After a few productive seasons in St. Louis, he was signed to the largest contract for a safety in the NFL history by the Redskins - six years for $30 million.  After some attitude problems, his bloated contract was traded to Chicago in 2007 where he promptly failed to live up to it - 15 games with only ten starts and one interception.

Meanwhile, while Archuleta was simply a disappointment on the field, Byron Morris was a disappointment in life.  "Bam" played in the NFL from 1994-99, including one season with the Bears ('98), but was much more known for his legal issues than hit football prowess.  After being caught in possession of marijuana and cocaine on multiple occasions during his career, Morris pleaded guilty in August 2000 to two counts of federal drug trafficking and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Say no to drugs, kiddies.

On that note, we've reached the end of my recent additions to the Bears All-Time Roster Collection.   It was only a few cards, but progress is progress and every little bit helps.

I'm slowly chipping away

In the meantime, while NFL camp might be gearing up, don't think for a second that my focus will be shifting.  Baseball is still (far and away) my first love and the Cubs are the class of the league.  Not to mention, with my roster-based baseball card collection and the impending MLB trade deadline being just around the corner (August 1st), I'll have to be as vigilant as ever.  Heck, the Cubs have even made one trade already.

Sorry Bears, you'll just have to wait until after October to catch my interest :)

1 comment:

  1. I think the Bears are going to be a legit contender this year. Actually... the NFC North in general will be tough. I followed Gilbert for a year, bc I'm a fellow SJSU alum... but never saw that cool video. Thanks for sharing.