Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Football Card Expiration Date Discussion

I was going through a lot of my cards after seeing the reaction to yesterday's clutter post, and I started to see a trend with my piles of cards that I actually managed to keep over the years. Most of my clutter was from 2006 and 2007, years in which I thought buying a lot meant getting a lot in terms of prowess in the hobby. Of course, I was new to football cards then, and I didn’t really understand what it meant to buy with a good head on your shoulders. I have opened packs of 2006 and 2007 SPA with all cards still in tact, I have chrome up the ass, and I may have even found an autograph or two. The thing is, by now, you really know which of these players are going to be someone and who was a bust or never-has-been. This led me to thinking about where should your line end?

Many people in the clutter post here and on FCB have said that they like to keep cards in case someone turns into Tom Brady or Tony Romo. That is a good idea, however, how long should you wait before cleaning out the closet? Its there an expiration date on someone's NFL (lack of) career? Some people would say no, that each player has a chance until he retires, a la Kurt Warner or someone like that. Warner was done and gone, but came back to lead his team to another super bowl, something that has happened maybe once or twice in the last 30 years. The thing was, he had already come to the forefront of the league once, players like Omar Jacobs and Ingle Martin, QBs from the 06 rookie premiere still have yet to arrive. In fact, Jacobs isnt playing anymore, I don’t think, and Ingle Martin has played 2 snaps in one game for the Packers and Chiefs. I think its time to let them go from the millions of cards you have stashed away.

When it comes to the bottom line of NFL careers, most rookies last less than 3 years in the league. I would even go as far as saying that for the 2007 rookie class, this year is their hurt locker. That means that if you have sets its one thing, but another if you just have cards accumulating for no other reason than to say you have a lot of them.

Lets face it, as collectors we are prone to clutter issues, and its become essentially important in this day and age to stay realistic. If you cannot give your pile of 2006 rookies because there might be a gem in the bunch, you need to reevaluate your priorities. The odds are that there is no one from the unknown part 2006 rookie class that hasn’t already achieved their full value. Think about it, even Brady and Romo were in the spots to make splashes by year 3. Same with Ryan Grant, same with all the other no-names to get starting positions. After year 2, its make it or break it.

That rule also says that by the end of year three in the league, we need to do some summer cleaning of our own. Look at Drew Stanton and John Beck, QBs that were thought of as great prospects to build up from the ground. Both have been drafted over by newer RC QBs, and Beck may not even be with the Dolphins anymore now that Chad Pennington and Chad Henne have taken his slot. Add in Pat White and things get nuts. Now, you could say what about "Player X" he came around to be a star in year 5 or year 6, to which I say he is one in a few thousand. Its not worth cluttering your house for a bunch of maybes. If you are focusing on the maybes, you will miss more of the sure things than you can imagine.

This also means that for 2007 products, busting packs doesn’t have as many options anymore. Quinn, Russell, Lynch, Peterson and Johnson, have all pretty much achieved a lot of what they are already going to achieve, leaving the prospectors to head to newer years to find their targets. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but for some of the 2007 class, it means that the cards will be lowering in value for good as people start to give up. We should too.

The new addage should be that by the end of year three, if the player is not in a position to have a starting job with potential, its time to let him go. Maybe this will teach the card companies from churning out 15,000 autographs each year of players drafted in the 5th round and lower, or not drafted at all. It’s the prospector mentality that has perpetuated the boom in scrub autos, even going as far as having entire products devoted to them. The line needs to be drawn somewhere, and with our basements busting at the seams every day, its easy to see where we need to stand on that line.


  1. Great post. As a team set collector (I put together sets of Packers) I struggle with this quite a bit not with what I want to toss out, but what I want to buy.

    For example, my 2006 Bowman Chrome Packers "master" set is incomplete and I need to pick up several Ingle Martin cards if I'm going to have a shot as completing the set. The set collector in me wants to be complete and says I need to buy them. But the other part of me realizes that Martin isn't a Packer anymore and he's probably never going to amount to much.

    It's an interesting delimna. Even if I can find his auto cards for less than $5, it's still a question that hounds me. If I buy and if I don't...they both seem like wrong decisions.

  2. the question then arises, what do you do with all of it? I've tried giving it away. But mailing 12 bubble envelopes out the other day cost me $75.
    I can't really bring myself to dumping them in the recycling bin either....

  3. At the same time, it worked well for me. I am probably the premiere Omar Jacobs collector around. I have almost 200 different ones. Having those cards just from one year makes it easy to keep track and easy to get a high percentage.

    On a sidenote, Jacobs plays in the AIFA. He was going to go the AFL but went back to the AIFA when they canceled the season.

  4. You're right, Beck is no longer a Dolphin, he followed Cam Cameron to Baltimore and is battling for the backup QB spot there.

  5. As a long time collector just now getting back into collector from 1982-1991 I have two problems What to do with the over 100,000 (a very low estimate) cards have from then and now the madness I've obtained when I went nuts about a year and a half ago 07' 08' products? Keep my complete sets of Topps Fleer and Donruss and upper deck from 82' -90? My albums of particular players All duplicates, Extras Mattingly, Canseco Bonds good ole' Mark M. ( reminds me that I grew up idolizing steroid freaks of nature) ETC...? This is an honest question I've re learned now and am only getting specific products I like. But I have no clue as to how to even start cleaning out my closet, under my beds the garage my sisters closet ETC...