I don’t remember how or when I got this set, but it was in my original collecting days back in the mid-1990’s. None of these players were in the Hall of Fame at the time, of course, and it can be a bold claim to say that even the best players at any given time will one day be inducted. This set, though, has a pretty amazing track record. More on that later, though. First off, a look at the card design and a guy who was clearly one of the best from the moment he stepped on the field.
Each card features a solid action shot that focuses on the subject player. The player’s name and the company logo highlight the front with a little gold foil. The “Canton Bound” bottom border is a little cheeseball, but this was 1994, after all. The back features a portrait they had to squeeze into the left side, another action shot, and the requisite stats and info on the player. In keeping with the 90’s cheesy design cues, the second letter of the player’s name is a different case and color, because, again, 1994. Overall, a pretty typical design for the time. What really distinguishes this set, though, is the checklist.
When they called these guys future HOF’ers, they pretty much nailed it! Montana, Rice, Emmitt, Barry, BRUUUUCE, Reggie… Of the 25 players, 21 now have busts in Canton, and not all were sure things in 1994. Bettis had only one year under his belt, Seau and Kennedy were still in the fairly early stages of their careers, and Steve Young had really only been an established star for a few seasons.
Only one player in this set never really belonged in the discussion. Foster had just one spectacular year, and 1994 was his last season. Sterling Sharpe’s career ending injury might have also ended his HOF chances, but he got high praise from his brother Shannon (HOF Class of 2011), who said “I’m the only pro football player that’s in the Hall of Fame, and the second best player in my own family.” A few more years as Brett Favre’s top receiver would probably have done the trick! Simms has consistently been a nominee, and will likely get a look from the old-guys committee, much like Ken Stabler did this year. Even Rison looked like he could be one of the greats before a year in Cleveland seemed to derail him. That Packers Super Bowl ring he’s got isn’t a bad consolation prize though!
Overall, this set is one I just keep coming back to. At least one of these guys was inducted into the Hall of Fame every year from 2002 until 2012, and while I wasn’t actively collecting most of that time, I’d still pull out this binder and think “Yup, there’s another one!”