The semifinalists list for this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame vote was revealed this week and there are some legendary names on the list of 25 — Brett Favre, Terrell Owens, Morten Anderson, Alan Faneca.
And if you’re like Buzz — a long-time collector but maybe someone whose focus isn’t purely on football all the time — one of those names may have left you saying, “Who?”
It’s not that Alan Faneca isn’t potentially a Hall of Famer — it’s that despite his playing 13 years in the NFL he barely has any cardboard to show for it. Guys like Buzz haven’t seen a card of his in years — if at all.
For the record, Faneca was a six-time All-Pro, played in nine Pro Bowls and was a first-teamer on the Hall of Fame’s All-2000s squad. He owns a Super Bowl ring. He started 201 of the 206 games he played — and he appears on a total of just 63 football cards.
Why? He’s an offensive lineman — a guard/tackle who was taken 26th overall in the 1998 draft out of LSU. We all probably know a few names from that year’s draft — Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Randy Moss, Fred Taylor and Ryan Leaf.
Leaf had more cards before his first rookie pre-season meltdown. Guaranteed.
Faneca’s first cards — including one of his only two certified autographs — were from Press Pass back in 1998. He didn’t even appear on an NFL card — his Rookie Card — until 2002, his fifth year in the league. Of his 63 cards, 16 of those are 1/1s — so, really, your odds of seeing one of his cards dropped even more.
Sure, most of us don’t want “commons” in our packs — a massive checklist makes a particular good player harder to get. That’s one of the reasons brands like Topps Total never took off in the past along with the work/cost involved to make a substantially higher number of cards in a set. However, Topps and Panini America have tried to make sure that some larger base sets have been made in recent years — at least a few sets beyond 100 cards of mostly quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. Faneca is far from alone as a player having few cards — in fact it’s more common than we think. We just don’t think about commons — until they’re somehow not.
As many products seem to continue to evolve away from base cards, we have seen players with fewer cards get the nod via things like event-specific jersey relics. Faneca’s last eight cards, for example, came from 2009 Panini brands that showcased swatches of a Pro Bowl jersey — he only has 10 memorabilia cards in all.
It’s impossible to get every player on every team on a card every year — especially in the NFL. It probably doesn’t make a lot of economic sense, either — products shouldn’t be made if they won’t sell. But it’s still kind of surprising to see guys who are in Hall of Fame consideration without a substantial amount of cardboard.
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