There have been countless sports card sets made in recent years with nods to the military and the NFL’s Salute to Service campaign reflected in packs. There have been camo cards, ribbon cards and so much more found by collectors, and it’s trickled over into other sports, too, with camo parallels and special military-tied inserts in packs along with memorabilia cards from military-themed jerseys.
But none of them can touch a simple set from packs of 2008 Topps football cards called 2008 Topps Honor Roll Ribbons. It’s a set that shows past NFL players who were members of the military along with mini replicas of the medals that they were awarded.
In the set are Hall of Famers Roger Staubach, Art Donovan, “Blood” McNally, Chuck Bednarik, Tom Fears, Gino Marchetti, Lou Groza and Norm Van Brocklin. The only non-Hall of Famer is the man with two medals and perhaps the most-intense war-time tale, Rocky Bleier, who was awarded a Purple Heart and revisited his experience in Vietnam in a 1975 Sports Illustrated cover story.
The cards weren’t easy pulls from packs that year in a product that also included veterans who were fans of the game. The only card from the set to sell recently on eBay was a Bleier Purple Heart, which grabbed 10 bids and ended with an impressive price for a manufactured Relic.
You can see all 10 cards in the set below — and we have thrown in a few more images of past athletes with military ties, too. (There are a few non-athletes’ and non-veterans’ appearances, too.)
It’s a collecting niche to consider on this Veterans Day — and every other day of the year, too.
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