It’s the holiday season. You’re stressed, and you’re frustrated, and that’s only because you have no idea what the hell you’re going to cook for dinner tonight. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of everything, and if you follow the ideas in this post that we’ll keeping rolling out until St. Nick boards his sleigh, you’ll have squiggly lines through the names on that list in no time.
Young or old, the football fan on your list wants some team swag this year. They’ve likely asked for their favorite player’s jersey, or maybe even a little puppet that can punch dad in the face repeatedly.
And that’s great, but every kid on the playground has an Aaron Rodgers jersey, and every collector has something that’s signed by Tony Romo that some obsessed lunatic will then purchase for a ludicrous price. You need to be different, and creative.
You need to live on the fringe of NFL swag, and find signed crap that no one has, and that’s probably because no one wants it. But it’ll be unique, original, and your gift recipient will be able to re-live timeless moments in NFL history, just not the good kind of history, or the kind of history that any would ever want to re-live.
But dammit, you’ll be original. Really original, and as always, eBay has supplied some gold in our search for obscure signed NFL collector’s items(?).
5. The man, the myth, the Rob
Current price: $3.99
The Bills fan in your life will have an ever-lasting and personalized memento of an era in Orchard Park when there was actually a debate over which quarterback was more talented between Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie.
Last time we checked, Johnson Flakes don’t exist.
4. Own a piece of David Carr’s painful history
Current Price: $50.99
Pictured in much happier times during his days at Fresno State before his will to play quarterback was crushed by the Texans’ offensive line, the price of this signed Carr rookie card shows that the football public still cherishes the sport’s failed history.
Carr was infamously sacked an NFL-record 76 times during his rookie season in Houston after the expansion Texans made him the first overall pick in 2002. Reflecting on it now while looking through the rest of Carr’s numbers in Houston, that record may be the most damning and notable, but what’s even more amazing is that in 2005 he flirted with 70 sacks again after ending up on his back 68 times.
Between those 2002 and 2005 seasons, Carr lost a combined 835 yards due to sacks. Yes, there’s history in this piece of cardboard, but if you buy it, don’t you dare take it home in a sack of any kind.
Carr hates sacks.
3. Read the extent of Matt Millen’s 2003 draft research again and again
Current price: $59.99
Before finally landing Calvin Johnson, the Lions set the benchmark for misjudged wide receivers, and colossally failed drafting at the position. The leading failure was Charles Rogers, the second overall pick in the 2003 draft who had only 26 receptions over three seasons in Detroit, after 125 catches and 2,551 yards during his two years at Michigan State.
Consider this a token of redemption for the passionate Lions fan who’s likely and finally about to see his team reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999. When this gift is opened it’ll generate a rare and odd mix of satisfaction, pride, and self-loathing.
2. I’d rather have a signed Larry Johnson diaper, but this is still alright
Current price: $139.95
Larry Johnson is the most successful NFL player whose signed swag lands on this list, but the fleeting nature of that success is what makes his Penn State jersey valuable. We assume that’s why it’s the priciest item in our top five, although we still think the signed Johnson diaper is out there somewhere, and it’s vastly more valuable.
Johnson made it cool to explode and then implode as a running back when he had 4,292 all-purpose yards between 2005 and 2006, and then after being beaten up and dramatically overused, he didn’t eclipse 1,000 yards again.
So like the Carr rookie card, this item is historic because of Johnson’s role in teaching coaches, in this case teaching them not to ride their running back like he’s the shared bike in a poor neighborhood with 15 children. It’s also a snapshot of far better times for Johnson, and for Penn State.
1. The Boz will always be the boss
Current price: $49.99
Also staggering in its value, this signed picture of Brian Bosworth shows the highly-hyped former Sooner stud and spectacularly failed Seahawks linebacker in his early punkish days, when chicks were still diggin’ the headband. The Boz talked more than he tackled, and after being selected by Seattle in the 1987 supplemental draft, his career was defined by a goal-line crumbling against Bo Jackson.
Bosworth’s swagger alone makes this a desirable gift, especially if you have a fan of vintage action flicks on your list who’s enamored by his early artistic work in Hollywood that consisted mostly of blowing stuff up, and talking about blowing stuff up.
Last week’s Christmas wishlist: Everyone needs a Ryan Leaf teddy bear.