The Beckett Blog

Reminder when flipping through a binder: Enjoy ‘em while you can by Chris Olds

I recently dusted off one of my old football card binders to find my ridiculously inexpensive, ridiculously unorganized stash of cards of one Hall of Fame caliber player.

I once thought was going to possibly sit atop the all-time the NFL’s career rushing touchdown list – well at least possibly rub shoulders with the guys listed right below Emmitt Smith (164) – but it turns out that just didn’t happen.

My player is among just eight who scored 100 career touchdowns on the ground during a career that lasted all of just eight seasons. He played in a Super Bowl, but his career was essentially over after that one appearance in the big game.

His name? Shaun Alexander.

The former Seattle Seahawks and Alabama Crimson Tide star put up a successful and potentially overlooked career, one that ended for all intents and purposes in 2006 at age 29. Sure, he lasted another season and a few games more even after that, but he wasn’t the same. He vanished from the radar when I wasn’t even paying attention.

The guy whose five touchdowns in a single game against BYU in 1998 set a Crimson Tide record – my first game – was done long ago, and I missed much of that career while still working in sports and then writing about cards. Sure, I paid attention when he scored five touchdowns in the first half of a game in 2002 – an NFL record. Sure, I paid attention to a then-record 27 touchdowns he scored during his MVP season that led all the way to the Super Bowl.

I just always thought there’d be more games played – and years later that point was obvious to me when flipping through a binder of cards. The binder was a time capsule of a time that had long passed.

These days, Alexander’s cards are still relatively valuable, though as part of my walk down memory lane I did manage to pick up a Playoff Contenders autographed RC for $10. That lingering value, even years after a player’s career is over where he is out of sight out of mind in favor of the next big thing, is a testament to the passion that football card collectors undoubtedly have, despite their sport producing many a star with immensely short shelf-lives.

Is it the passion for the players? Is it a tribute to their teams? Or is it just support for the sport? I’m not sure, but, for me, I enjoyed seeing the highlight reels of a player whom I had gotten autographs of as a student, later interviewed as a writer and then, of course, a guy I “coached” on many a fantasy team.

My flipping through a card binder was all a reminder that everything is finite. The clock stops for no one, even your sports heroes.

Enjoy them while you can.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


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