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Vintage Reilly: Rick Has his Own Football Card

December 18, 2009

All right Dr. Emmett Brown, dust off your flux capacitor, it’s time for a trip in the way back machine. Actually only about four years, but whatever. As you probably know, Reilly has a pretty cush job. One where he only has to scribble out some nonsense once a week, and occasionally send everyone into a panic by appearing on Sportscenter. And it gets difficult sometimes combing through all the other terrible sports writing out there, so I’ll take a page from the Rick Reilly handbook on mailing it in, and take the easy way out: it’s vintage Rick time. This article is from August 2005.

Trade You Eight Reillys For A Vick

That headline seems a little silly now, doesn’t it? But I’d probably still make that trade.

Are you an avid collector of sports memorabilia? If so, what you’re going to hear next is going to make you take up a new hobby, perhaps sword swallowing. I now have my own football trading card.

I hate to break it to the guy, but even in 2005, I don’t think trading cards counted as sports memorabilia anymore. I used to collect cards like it was my job when I was little, and can remember when finding the hot rookie card meant something. You’d hang onto it, and if the guy ever made it to the Hall of Fame one day, it would be worth a fortune, just like your dad’s two dozen Mickey Mantle rooks that your grandmother threw away. Then they started “inserts” and packs started costing $6 a pop, and your regular, old rookie cards became worthless because they didn’t have pieces of the guy’s hair embedded into them. It was the beginning of the slow, death groan of baseball cards. Anyway, I digress. Reilly has a football card. Congratulations, you’ve secured your spot in irrelevancy on a piece of cardboard.

Sadly, this is true. Donruss has a series of cards called Fans of the Game, and this year they asked me if I’d like to be on one. They said my picture and my alltime favorite team (the extinct Los Angeles Rams) would be on it. This is a sickening trend in trading cards: putting nonathletes on them and causing 10-year-old boys everywhere to puke up their Skittles.

So then why’d you say yes if this is such an awful thing? Were you paid handsomely? I bet you were paid handsomely.

Last year, for instance, Topps put out a series of World Treasures that included Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana. The only card signed by the Pope went for $10,400 on eBay last weekend.

In fairness, a signed picture of the Pope probably is worth a lot of money. I can’t remember the last time the Pope went around signing autographs.

I broke the news about my card to my 16-year-old daughter while trailing five feet behind her at the mall. “Rae, your dad is going to have his own football card!” I yelled up.

I love how Reilly is obviously excited about having a football card, but has to make it kind of seem like he hates the idea because deep down he knows it’s lame and is only going to make people hate him more. And maybe, just maybe, he has a nagging feeling that some smart ass is going to start a blog four years later and randomly decide to berate him for it.

And she whispered back to me, “Dad, you promised to keep a gap between us at the mall! In case my friends see me!”

His daughter, I must say, certainly has the right idea here. Rae, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be caught dead in a mall with your father either. Would you like to become an honorary board member of FireRickReilly?

“There is a gap between us!”

“No! A Gap store.”

Holy shit. What an awful joke.

O.K., the kids weren’t impressed. But when I was a boy, my collection of baseball and football cards were my life. I’d put them in three shoe boxes according to worth–KEEP, FLIP, and KNIFE.

Keeps were any Ram or totally cool player, like Joe Namath (who wound up being both). Flips were ammunition for lunchtime games of Match It, which you could play as long as the nuns didn’t catch you and match you with the school paddle. And the Knife cards were doomed to be thumbtacked to the door of the bedroom–laundry room my brother, John, and I shared. He could stand 10 feet away and flip his pocketknife so that it stuck in the door. I can remember his sticking the Baltimore Colts’ John Mackey in the right eye, a feat so amazing that Mackey remained pegged to the door for nearly a month, a hapless one-eyed Jack.

And then, 37 years later, my brother is waking me out of my daydream with a phone call.

“Guess what I just bought on eBay!” he says. “Your football card!”

Why would you ever buy their own brother’s card (or anything from their family for that matter) on eBay? Seems odd. Then again, this is the same guy who gives Rick a lot of column ideas (#13), so he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.

“Oh, crap,” I moan.

“Guess how much I paid?”

“Please don’t tell me.”

“One cent!”

“One cent? Who sells anything for one cent?”

Anybody selling anything that you’re associtated with, that’s who. I wonder if Rick’s been over to eBay lately, because it’s not much better now. There are some big bargains to be had on Rick Reilly books.

“Well, he got me for $3 shipping.”

So between my brother and my kids, a good bit of the glory was gone by the time a box of 750 cards came. Secretly, it was a minithrill, except there were no stats or cartoon on the back of my card. You know? Like, on the old cards, they’d have Jim Taylor’s yards per carry, plus a funny drawing of him getting pulled through the water by a fish with the caption, Jim once caught an 800-pound marlin!

Of course, what were they going to put on mine? My adjectives per paragraph? And maybe a drawing of me, sitting stubble-faced at a laptop, with a bottle of Dewar’s and a blank balloon over my head? Rick’s drinking tends to worsen with writer’s block!

Only two in this paragraph. You need to work on your stats, man.

I autographed 250 cards and sent them back, and Donruss sprinkled them among the other 1,000 they printed and put in packs of NFL cards. Can’t you see some kid paying $2.99, hoping for Michael Vick (worth as much as $1,600 signed) and getting me instead? No wonder there’s so much youth violence today.

You’re right. That would totally suck. It gets even more boring than usual the next few grafs, so I’ll skip ahead. Suffice it to say, his autographed card is worth more than some guy’s from CHiPs (not sure what that is, and I refuse to google it), about $200 less than Tony Danza, and the same as Ryan Moats (I bet that changed after Moats’ awesome fantasy day earlier this year.) So now he has a bunch of cards at his house. I think you’re caught up.


With 500 cards to get rid of, I went to Denver’s hot new watering hole, Elway’s, and started handing them out to perfect strangers. “Hang on to that,” I told them. “That could be worth seven or eight cents someday.”

Your false self-deprecation is unbecoming, my friend.

And every person looked at me and said the same thing: “Will John Elway be here tonight?”

These are some good people. These are some people I would like to meet.

So far, I’ve gotten one (1) card in the mail to sign. From Jeff Majeski of Fairmont, Minn. I called him up. He said he has some great signed cards, including a Joe Montana, which he keeps in a safe. Others he puts under the glass on top of his desk. “You’re in my bottom drawer,” he said, sheepishly.

Something awful should happen to Jeff Majeski. Yeah, yeah. I know he keeps it in the bottom drawer, whatever. Asking Reilly for an autograph only fans the flames though.

Hey, beats the Knife box.

I guess it does. But I have a solution to this. Here’s a picture of Reilly’s card. (Isn’t that an incredibly boring card? Plus it’s like a stock photo of him. I’ve seen that thing all over the place). Now, we can all print it out and tape to something sturdy that we don’t really care about and throw knives at it. How’s that sound? Great? Awesome!

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