Monthly: June 2018

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1963 Packers: At Their Peak

Topps football cards 1963 nil

Coming off the greatest season Vince Lombardi would every coach, the Packers found going for the 3rd straight title difficult.  The eventual champion Chicago Bears handed the Packers their only loses of the season and one tie versus the lowly Detroit Lions gave them a final record of 11-2-1.  The loss of Paul Hornung for the entire season due to gambling issues certainly took away one of the Packers most potent offensive weapons.  As a matter of fact, because of the suspension Hornung was not issued a card for that year, nor was Alex Karras of the Lions, who was also suspended for the entire season.

This custom 1963 Packer set reinstates the “Golden Boy” and offers 17 other Packer RetroCards who were absent from the regular set that year.  Zeke Bratkowski, Jerry Kramer, Hank Gremminger, Tom Moore, Ron Kostelnik, Bobby Jeter, Dan Currie, Willie Davis, Dave Robinson, Bob Skoronski, Jess Whittenton, Dave Hanner, Ken Iman, Norm Masters, Elijah Pitts, Marv Fleming, and Earl Gros are the subject of this attractive set.  Get it here!

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Chuck Howley: Right Place, Right Time

Topps, Philadelphia cards, 1965 tallboys
Great defensive players seem to know how to be in the right place at the right time on the football field.  Chuck Howley had that special intuition and his knack for anticipation mixed with his speed made him indispensable on the Cowboys first Doomsday Defense.  One of the great play makers of his day, Chuck Howley played in 191 games over 15 seasons.  He was a seven-time All-Pro, a six-time Pro Bowler and has the dubious distinction of being the only Super Bowl MVP chosen from a losing team. Strangely, he is not in the NFL Hall Of Fame and is on a short list of players from his era who should be in the Hall.
A five-sport athlete at West Virginia, he was the 7th player taken in the 1958 draft by the Chicago Bears.  In 1959 he badly hurt his knee and retired.  By 1961, Cowboy coach Tom Landry caught wind of Howley’s recovery and took a gamble, trading a 2nd and 9th pick to obtain him. The gamble quickly paid off and Howley was an instant starter in 1961, missing only 4 games in the next 12 seasons. His speed was ideal for the weak side linebacker position but he was so athletic, he could play the strong side, cover speedy receivers, and rush the quarterback.
The Cowboys finally made it to the Super Bowl after the 1970 season and although the Cowboys lost a game they should have won, Howley managed to win the MVP award in what was labelled as the “Blunder Bowl.” Howley explained, “It was one of those kind of games when I was in the right place at the right time, all the time.  Even when I made mistakes and was out of position, I was in the right place.” He was in consideration for a consecutive MVP for Super Bowl VI but that prize went to the venerable Roger Staubach.
As his career wound down, so did the old Cowboy regime.  He retired after the 1972 season but Tom Landry convinced him to join the taxi squad in 1973 to mentor some of the young linebackers and retired for the third time at the end of the 1973 season.
His exclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is troubling but he is one of several fine players from the 1960s and 1970s that RetroCards will be featuring over time.  Check out Chuck Howley RetroCards that can be found in many Dallas Cowboys team sets.
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1963 Eagles: No Escaping The Cellar

Topps 1963 football cards

The 10-4 record of 1961 showed that their 1960 Championship was no fluke.  But by 1962, the franchise had dipped to last place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-10 record.  Injuries decimated the offense as Sonny Jurgensen struggled with the separated shoulder he suffered in the prior season’s Playoff Bowl.  Receivers Pete Retzlaff, Bobby Walston , and Dick Lucas all sustained broken arms and Howard “Hopalong” Cassidy, acquired to bolster the receiving corps, when down with a broken leg. Ted Dean’s broken foot crippled the offense further.  Timmy Brown and Tommy McDonald continued to thrill, but the Eagles still lost the final nine games.  1963 started with QBs Jurgensen and King Hill staging a joint holdout for more money leaving the team in a state of low morale as they stumbled to a 2-10-2 record in 1963.

This RetroCard set is expanded to include some key players on this underachieving team: Don Burroughs, Ted Dean, Howard Keys, Dick Lucas, Ray Mansfield, Jerry Mazzanti, Mike McClellan, George McKinney, Bill Quinlan, Nate Ramsey, Bobby Richards, Theron Sapp, Ben Scotti, Jim Schrader, Jim Skaggs, J.D. Smith, and John Wittenborn.  Get it here!