Most Valuable Football Card Tops $10,000

October 14, 2007

By Dan Hitt (Beckett)

The hobby’s most valuable football card sold on eBay recently for a whopping $10,101.51 and most collectors have never even heard of the card. No, it’s not the 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski RC. No, it’s not the famous 1952 Bowman Large Jim Lansford SP RC. It’s not even a card of a Hall of Famer or a modern-era signed rookie or “1/1” card.

It does feature a football player, but a guy practically no one has ever heard of. In fact, the real identity of the player (John Dunlop of Harvard) wasn’t even known until just a few years ago since his name and any other identification were inadvertently left off of the card.

This most valuable card hails from a set recognized as the first football card release ever issued. It was sponsored by the Mayo Tobacco company, released around 1894 and included 35 players from one of three Ivy League schools (Harvard, Princeton and Yale), at the time a hot bed of American football.

Mayo also released a number of other trading card sets around that time, some featuring baseball players and some including a variety of other subjects, like boxers or actors. But there are a number of reasons why this card is the most important of all Mayo singles. Being the first exclusively football card set ever issued, it carries a special significance for collectors. Many of the players featured in the set were the top players in the country at the time. Many were All-Americans and several were awarded that honor more than once. But this single card is also much scarcer than the other 34 players in the set.

It could be related to the fact that since the player’s name and school were left off, many were likely thrown out over the years or at least buried within collections of non-sport cards. The real reasons will never be known, but the card is legitimately rare.

This copy is just the second single card we’ve seen sell publicly in the past 15 years. There have been private sales and sales of complete sets that included the “anonymous” card, but just one other public transaction.

Andy Szoke of Bangor (Pa.) Coins and Collectibles was the delighted seller of the card and filled us in on the story behind it.

He had recently returned from a trip to Africa with a commitment to help the Alice Visionary Foundation Project fund the purchase of a new vehicle for a local village there. He began to go through some old collections his store had bought over the years and found a group of old cards to sell to benefit, in part, the charity. He singled out this particular card to sell individually since he thought it interesting that it was missing the player’s identification. The other cards he had from the set were bundled in lots.

Szoke reports that he began receiving e-mailed offers almost immediately on the Dunlop card. Those offers to end the auction early quickly grew to as high as $8,500. That tipped off Szoke that something exciting was going on so he researched the card on and found that we book the single at $12,000-$18,000 (for a card in excellent condition). He couldn’t believe his luck in discovering such a valuable card nestled among stacks of otherwise mundane trading cards.

Although the condition of the card appears to be poor with at least one major crease, the overall appearance is clean, but the scarcity is what elevated the final bidding to more than $10,000.

Former Giants tackle ‘Tex’ Coulter dies at 83

October 12, 2007

Former New York Giants tackle Dewitt “Tex” Coulter has died after a lengthy illness. He was 83. Jeff Coulter, of Kamloops, British Columbia, said Thursday that his father died Oct. 2 in Austin.

Coulter was an All-American on Army’s 1945 national championship team. He played left tackle for the Giants from 1946-52 and made the all-pro team in 1948 and 1949.

Coulter also played four seasons with Montreal in the Canadian Football League. He was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

He was a prep star at Fort Worth Masonic Home during the 1940s.

His wife, Ruth, died in 1997. In addition to son Jeff, he is survived by son David Coulter of Vancouver, British Columbia; daughters Ann McKinlay and Dena Coulter-Brown, both of Austin; and eight grandchildren.

A private memorial service is planned for Nov. 2 in Austin.

Cowboys QB coach back to work after five-game ban

October 12, 2007

Wilson, 48, is back at work after completing his five-game NFL suspension for buying and using performance-enhancing substances that he said were to try to “improve the quality” of his life after living with diabetes for more than 20 years.

His first game is Sunday’s hyped matchup of 5-0 teams against the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick, who didn’t miss a game when he got in trouble this season for something that could have affected the outcome of a game.

Belichick was fined $500,000 — five times more than Wilson was fined — but wasn’t suspended for violating a league rule that prohibits clubs from using video cameras on the sideline for any purpose, including recording signals relayed to opposing players.

“I have my personal thoughts, but I don’t think they really mean too much,” Wilson said Thursday. “The commissioner made his decision. … Personally, I thought I was treated pretty harshly. I deal with that, and what he wants to do with the Patriots and their situation, that’s his decision.”

Bengals’ Hall likely to get second start at cornerback

October 12, 2007

Leon Hall gets another chance. The rookie cornerback is expected to make his second start Sunday for the Cincinnati Bengals, whose defense is depleted by injury and suspension heading into a pivotal game at Kansas City.

Starter Johnathan Joseph, a first-round pick last year, will serve a one-game suspension from the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy, the result of his arrest for marijuana possession earlier this year.

Hall, the Bengals’ first-round pick this year out of Michigan, started the season opener when Joseph was recovering from a foot injury. Hall has been an extra cornerback on passing downs in the last three games.

It’s a critical game for Cincinnati (1-3), which can’t afford to fall farther behind in the AFC North. And the rookie cornerback knows he’ll be targeted when the Chiefs throw the ball.

“I hope so,” Hall said Thursday. “It’s a good thing to have them not throw your way, kind of a respect thing. At the same time, you don’t get to make interceptions and breakups. I hope they come after me and test me. I feel I’ve had a good week of practice.”

Hall leads the team with two interceptions — he picked off Tom Brady in a 34-13 loss to New England heading into the Bengals’ bye week — and has knocked down four passes, tied for second on the team.

Falcons’ Leftwich says ankle injury is ‘minor sprain’

October 12, 2007

For Leftwich, it’s a painfully familiar story.

Leftwich missed 15 games with injuries the last two years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, including 10 games with a bad ankle.

The good news for Leftwich this time: The injury is not serious, and it’s not the same ankle that shut down his 2006 season.

“It’s OK. It’s a minor sprain,” Leftwich said, adding the Falcons’ medical staff “didn’t want me to do anything further to it.”

Leftwich said X-rays on the ankle were negative.

“I took the rest of today’s practice off and we’ll see how it feels in the morning,” he said.

Leftwich, who was released by the Jaguars late in the preseason, signed with Atlanta on Sept. 18 and made his first appearance in last week’s loss to Tennessee

Raiders prepared to go without Burgess, Warren

October 12, 2007

The last two years, Derrick Burgess has been the Raiders’ most productive defensive lineman. But with a lingering calf injury that began nearly a month ago, the Pro Bowl end is lucky just to get on the practice field.

He’s not the only Oakland defensive lineman hurting, either. Gerard Warren, who leads the team with three sacks and has been a force in the middle since moving into the lineup in Week 3, hasn’t practiced since sustaining a thigh injury during a team drill last Thursday.

Missing two starters up front is not exactly the way the Raiders want to face a potent San Diego offense coming off its most productive game of the year.

“It is what it is,” Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday. “Guys will need to step up. We’re prepared to go without them. It looks like it’s going to go that way, so we’ll have guys step up just like we would for any of our positions.”

Burgess had 27 sacks over the past two seasons and had hoped to parlay that success into a new deal with the Raiders this past offseason. Instead, he has just one tackle in two games and has not played since leaving the fourth quarter of Oakland’s 23-20 overtime loss to Denver on Sept. 16 with the calf injury.

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Erasmus James was listed on Thursday’s injury report with a shoulder injury, one day after reportedly getting into a fight with teammate Chester Taylor in the locker room.

October 12, 2007

Miami Dolphins quarterback Trent Green returned to South Florida after undergoing tests in Kansas City for a severe concussion, his second in 13 months. Green was encouraged and feels good, coach Cam Cameron said Thursday, but the Dolphins are awaiting additional results from specialists.

“We just need to let some time go by here,” Cameron said. “They recommended some rest. They just all want to let the thing settle down and make sure we know what all took place.”

Green, 37, was knocked unconscious with a Grade III concussion, the most severe, in Sunday’s loss at Houston. He’s out indefinitely, and it’s uncertain whether he’ll play again.

Hurt in practice or fight? Vikings’ James has sore shoulder

October 12, 2007

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Erasmus James was listed on Thursday’s injury report with a shoulder injury, one day after reportedly getting into a fight with teammate Chester Taylor in the locker room. James, who has been out since a knee injury in Week 2 of last season, has been steadily working his way back into playing shape and was considered a candidate to be activated on Sunday against Chicago. But he was a surprise addition to the injury report, and coach Brad Childress said James missed a portion of practice due to a sore shoulder.

Several media outlets reported that James got into a scuffle with Taylor in the locker room after practice Wednesday, but it was unclear whether James was injured in the fight or during practice.

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (groin), safety Dwight Smith (hamstring) and linebacker Ben Leber (ribs) also were limited in practice with injuries.

Bucs fill RB need, add veteran Crockett

October 11, 2007

Crockett, 34, worked out for Jon Gruden last week and is familiar with the coach’s offense after playing for him in Oakland.

To make room on the roster, backup quarterback Chris Simms, slow to regain his form after missing most of last season following surgery to remove his spleen, was placed on injured reserve.

The Bucs lost Williams, the 2005 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, to a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago. Pittman started last Sunday’s game against Indianapolis, but was carted off during the second quarter with a badly sprained ankle that’s expected to sideline him six to eight weeks.

With Williams and Pittman out, fourth-year pro Earnest Graham becomes the starting tailback. Rookie Kenneth Darby, a seventh-round draft pick who began the season on the practice squad, and Crockett will back him up.

Crockett has appeared in 174 games with the Colts, Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars since entering the league as a third-round draft choice in 1995. He has 61 career starts and has rushed for 1,701 yards and 36 touchdowns.

With Cards job in hand, Warner ready to prove he’s good to go

October 11, 2007

Now Warner is back. The 36-year-old quarterback will start for the Arizona Cardinals against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, replacing young Matt Leinart, who is out for the season with a broken collarbone.

Even though he’s been playing behind Leinart, and helping the second-year pro without complaint, Warner believed all along that he was good enough to start.

“I think I’ve proven that through the preseason and even through the time that I’ve played in the regular season that a lot of people would see me as a starter,” he said.

Even though he wasn’t starting, Warner has seen considerable time on the field as the quarterback when coach Ken Whisenhunt goes to a “no-huddle” offense, a fact that Leinart didn’t like.

From the start, Warner showed a knack for grasping the offense Whisenhunt brought with him when he took the job this year.

“For whatever reason, it made sense to me,” Warner said. “It was easy to pick up for me, and I could visualize what I was supposed to do on a lot of plays. When you can do that early on in an offense, you can kind of take control of it and gain confidence in it.”

Still, as expected, Warner was on the sideline when Arizona opened the season. He did what he could to mentor Leinart and tried to stay ready if needed.

As he settled in to his role as veteran backup, it was easy to forget Warner’s unprecedented rise from obscurity to stardom not so long ago.

Warner signed with Green Bay as an undrafted free agent out of Northern Iowa in April 1994 but was released four months later. Three seasons with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League followed before he was signed as a free agent by the St. Louis Rams the day after Christmas, 1997.

He played 10 games in 1998 for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe, then saw action in the Rams’ final game of that season.

Then came an unbelievable 1999.