The Beckett Blog

AT THE SUPER BOWL: Donruss NFL Card Show notebook by Chris Olds


By Chris Olds

A glimpse inside my notebook (and a few images from my camera) from the NFL Experience and Donruss NFL Card Show at Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Fla. …

Hot cards
redemptionsDonruss and Upper Deck produced exclusive card sets for the Donruss NFL Card Show with both companies doing wrapper redemptions and an exclusive full set from the Texas-based company and show sponsor.

“Our Super Bowl set was a huge success,” said Donruss spokesman Scott Prusha, who was one of about a dozen employees manning the company’s booth. “We introduced a ton of new collectors to cards as we set record sales of the 440-card Super Bowl set, with many purchasing multiples. … Fans of all teams were buying up Donruss product at the show for the wrapper redemption. We heard from one dealer that he even had to fly more Donruss product in just for the show to handle all the requests.”

Name dropping
We all know that the Super Bowl means plenty of celebrities and star athletes would be around Tampa. …

We didn’t run into too many, but the Beckett crew shared a flight to Tampa with NFL broadcasting legend Pat Summerall, while one leg of the return trip was shared by the band Journey, which performed during the NBC pre-game show. Journey flew first class, of course, but that didn’t mean they didn’t sign some autographs. A flight attendant scored some autographed American Airlines napkins. How did we notice? Singer Arnel Pineda was stopped a few times for photos in the terminal before the flight — and we caught way too much of the pregame show not to know who he was. (No comment from Steve Perry.)


Hot sellers
huntwoodsHunt Auctions held an auction on the show floor, selling a Johnny Unitas game-used helmet for $27,600, while a Jim Brown game-used jersey sold for $18,400. A pair of Ben Roethlisberger game-used cleats sold for $977.50, while a slew of San Diego Chargers uniforms were also on the block. Among the more unusual items was a Tiger Woods autographed NFL football (from Upper Deck Authenticated), which sold for $2,415. Fans who couldn’t afford the auction action could examine the memorabilia, which was housed in black display cases surrounding the auction floor throughout the weekend.


Hot day
donruss4The Saturday before the big game was the busiest at the show, with fans packing the show tent tightly and the Beckett booth selling out of magazines and books at approximately 5 p.m. — five hours before closing time.

“The Donruss booth was busy both weekends, with a heavy local turnout the first week and the Steelers — hoping to get out of the cold — in full force all week,” Prusha said. “The Cardinal fans joined the party on Saturday in what we think was the single busiest day at a NFL Experience that any of us have seen.”

keibler1Name Dropping at the EA Sports party …
While the Madden Bowl was the competition that drew the athletes (and more than a few party-going VIPs), there were more than a few familiar faces at the party of all parties during the Super Bowl weekend. The Bowl was won by Bucs WR Antonio Bryant (home-screen advantage?) who defeated Giants DE Justin Tuck 28-7 with ESPN’s Trey Wingo doing commentary. Among those spotted in attendance but not competing were Cowboys WR Terrell Owens, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Ravens RB Willis McGahee, retired stars Shannon Sharpe and Michael Strahan as well as former WWE Diva (and ex-Ravens cheerleader) Stacy Keibler and boxing champion Evander Holyfield to name a few.

Get in line
With security a concern at events like the Super Bowl, media members, venders and volunteers alike had to be credentialed at a site away from the stadium. That included multiple badges with photo IDs on them — even for former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick, who was stuck waiting in line while the Beckett crew got its tags. … Getting in line was also a common thought during the weekend for fans who sought autographs at the event. Among several who signed at the Donruss Autograph Pavilion were Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, Miami Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, Texans RB Steve Slaton, Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe and Bucs favorite Derrick Brooks. … Lines were just as heavy at the Sprint Phone-A-Friend booths at at the Canon photo booths where plenty of fans either talked to NFL players on their phones or got their photos taken with NFL stars.


By the numbers
$295 — Cost for an autographed Barry Sanders jersey at the NFL Card Show
$345 — Cost for throwback jerseys at the NFL Store next door.

$39 — Cost for a Super Bowl logo mini helmet at the NFL Store.
$25 — Cost for the same helmet next door at the Card Show.
$15 — Cost for that same helmet on at the Card Show on gameday.

$78,000 — The winning team’s share per player. (That’s 5,200 mini helmets on gameday, you know.)
$40,000 — The losing team’s share per player.

$8 — Cost of a steak burger during the weekend at a concessions stand.
$10 — Cost of a steak burger on gameday.
$5 — Cost for a 20-ounce Pepsi beverage on gameday.


Also spotted …
Detroit Tigers slugger Gary Sheffield was seen working his way through the crowd at the Donruss NFL Card Show on a busy Saturday — so busy he probably wasn’t noticed by many fans. … The Beckett booth was spotted in a different way — with blue paint — as artist William Lopa (above) worked on a pair of Super Bowl-inspired pieces in the booth next door (one for the Cardinals, one for the Steelers of course).


Other artwork
fazzino4A few art galleries had work on display at the show and one popular stop was the booth for artist Charles Fazzino, who has been an officially licensed Super Bowl artist since 1999. His three-dimensional pop art lined the walls of his booth while his ornately decorated football helmets drew the attention of many. He signed books and Super Bowl posters in his booth, while just down the row at iAM Enterprises fans could get their heads in the game and be scanned three-dimensionally to have their own NFL busts created. (Not an inexpensive item — but a darn unique one.)

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at


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