The Beckett Blog

Rookie Premiere Notebook by Tracy Hackler


By Jon Gold

LOS ANGELES — Some notes and observations from the NFL PLAYERS Rookie Premiere:

 … Most rookies I interviewed were moderate collectors as kids (see below). Matt Stafford and Rhett Bomar, two Texas quarterbacks, collected – who else? – Troy Aikman. But the main player of choice was Barry Sanders. These rookies have taste.

Mark Sanchez has the mental makeup to succeed as quarterback of the New York Jets. Does he have the physical attributes? Time will tell.

Donruss‘, er, Panini America‘s designershave outdone themselves. Many of the cards the company had to be signed – including the always-popular Pen Pals – were simply gorgeous. Also, Panini America is mixing up the markers a little bit, with some red pens and silver pens joining the boring old black-and-blue inks.

… As Minnesota rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin says: “600 autographs is a lot to sign, man.”

Upper Deck is making a big, big move toward innovation, having players sign out-of-this-world inscriptions. Some of the highlights from the upcoming Upper Deck Philadelphia set: Matt Stafford’s “Lion King;” Mark Sanchez’ “El Matador;” and Percy Harvin’s brilliant “See you next year Tebow!” Just awesome.

… It was pretty cool to see the camaraderie that many of the rookies shared with one another. Former college teammates Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno were the hands-down best buds of the day, though. Stafford tossed a football to Moreno for some quick touchdown celebration clips, and Moreno’s dances were simply brilliant. The two highlights: Moreno’s chainsaw routine, that saw him jokingly cut down the goalposts, and his imitation of a lovelorn Stafford, which drew laughs from everyone watching.

… It was nice to see such a substantial portion of on-card autographs being signed. Good stuff in store for 2009.


… The most personable rookies: Sanchez, Moreno, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Harvin and Pat White.

They Said It
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, man.”
– Dolphins QB Pat White on how much his Rookie Card should be worth

“I was gonna say ‘Knowshon [Moreno],’ but he’s sitting right here. Who all is out here? Hmmm . . . Michael Crabtree, just because I think his auto is hot right now.”
– No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford on whose autograph he’s going to acquire

 “It’s weird to think of them like that. I remember seeing cards when I’m younger and thinking, ‘those are cool, those are special.’ Now I’m here. It’s pretty surreal. I think these mean a lot to the fans. I can understand how these cards have sentimental value. But I’m still pinching myself every day.”
– Jets QB Mark Sanchez on whether he’s surprised by the value of some of his cards

“It’s crazy, but I’m glad that you’ve got fans out there like that. Those are the people who drive the sport, drive sports in general. People who are die-hard supporters; if I can give them something that they feel is worth that much, then I’m more than happy to be part of it.
– Giants receiver Ramses Barden on the NFL PLAYERS Rookie Premiere experience

 “Growing up, it’s almost like a fantasy. You see it happen to other guys, you see an autograph but never meet that person. It’s cool to think about it like that.”
– 49ers running back Glen Coffee on whether he ever dreamed of appearing on a football card

Did You Collect Cards Growing Up?
“I loved cards. Emmitt Smith, I was a big fan of his. He was the one football guy I got. I mainly collected a lot of basketball. Of course, MJ. He was the best one out there. You’d have to buy ten packs just to get one of his. But I still treasure my Emmitt Smith cards.”
– Vikings receiver Percy Harvin

“I collected a lot of NBA cards. I was a big basketball fan. My favorite guy growing up was Bill Russell; that’s old school right there.”
– Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey

“Yeah, there was a point and time when I collected. I’d go to a store, and it’s the first thing I’d buy. I’d buy cards before I’d buy candy. Now, it’s a dream come true to have my own.”
– 49ers QB Nate Davis

“Not at all, but I will say, it’ll be cool to see my face on one.”
– Titans receiver Kenny Britt

“Most definitely, I had all the big-time cards growing up. All the Jerry Rice cards, the Deion Sanders, the Barry Sanders. I had a Deion Sanders card, it had all kind of reflectors on it. I loved it.”
– Steelers receiver Mike Wallace


“I still have about 15 shoeboxes all full of cards. All football. I have a whole bunch of Barry Sanders. But I have a Randall Cunningham, from when he was with the Eagles. That’s my favorite card.”
– 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree“I had a few books full of cards. All the main ones. A bunch of Cowboys stuff; I was a huge Cowboys fan growing up. Troy Aikman, man, of course. He was always my guy.”
– Giants QB Rhett Bomar 

Jon Gold is the local sports columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News and is a freelance writer for


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