Posted on: July 8, 2009 12:39 pm

Starting Lineup Search

Last week, I did a piece on gumball football helmets that we all enjoyed collecting as children that have now become collector's items and sell for thousands of times their original value. This week, I thought it would only be fitting to cover another collector's item that falls under the same category. Whether or not you collected starting lineup figures, I am pretty sure you received one as a gift or somehow found one in your closet.

As a child I had about 10 of these figures which I purchased myself just because I was collecting my favorite players. After they sat on my desk, I eventually found ways to put them to use besides an aesthtically pleasing feel to my room. I would line them up on my dresser and then stand on the other side of my room with the Nerf bow and arrow guesses it...shoot them off like I was at a firing range. This is probably one of my most fun memories as a child, but it was short lived after mom realized that starting lineup figurines violently flying against the wall at close range leave permanent marks on the wall in an array of colors. The creative side of me felt that the many random color marks on the wall added character to the room, but mom didn't share the same vision as me.

Once I got older, collecting starting lineup figures became a big hobby of mine, and I have quite a collection today. While they all sit in huge plastic boxes in my parents' closet, they used to cover my walls like wallpaper at a memorabilia store. I spent my free time and my own money scouring Toys R Us stores, KB Toys and Starting Lineup conventions trying to find great deals. I started collecting only baseball figures, but that quickly turned into football, basketball and hockey. While I don't have many of the very expensive pieces, I have most of my favorite pieces which I haven't been able to part with and don't know if I ever will be able to. Let's take a look at some of the most interesting, popular and expensive figures on the market.

1988-98 Figures: The Starting Lineup figures from 1988 and 1989 are the rarest as there just weren't that many made when the pieces were first in production. Also, nobody really new starting lineup figures were going to be collector's items as many parents simply bought them for their children to play with. It is hard to find unopened figures and once the plastic player is removed from his case, it loses almost all value. While some of the opened figures from these two years can still sell for about $15 dollars depending on the buyer, it is the unopened and pristine figures that bring in the big bucks. Almost all the football and baseball figures from these two years go for about $40 while the superstar players can sell from $250 to $500, once again depending on the needs of the buyer.

First Pieces: Just like baseball cards, the most expensive and the most wanted items are a player's first piece. Unless a piece is highly undermade, a player's first piece will always be his most expensive, which may also have a lot to do with the pieces from 1988 and 1989 being the most expensive. On the left you can see Peyton Manning's first piece, which only goes for about $15 dollars since there were so many figures being produced by 1998. On the right, you can see Daryl Strawberry's first piece, which is actually sitting next to me at this very moment, but it is opened and is one of the little guys that took quite a beating from the Nerf arrow. Thanks to Daryl's legal troubles, his peice only goes for about $8 dollars, but I bet you it means much more than that to any fan that grew up watching Strawberry in his prime.

Goalies: While goalies bring no extra value to a piece, it's hard to deny that they are the coolest figures out of all the sports. They are bigger pieces, their uniforms are more creative and the come with helmets. Yes, football players come with helmets to, but they are now way near as cool as the the detail that comes with the hockey Goalie Helmets. When I was a collector, I actually traded away some of my goalies to get some baseball pieces that I was attempting to get complete a set for and I really wish I would have never done that. As you can see, while many of these pieces bring different monetary values, ther are so many other aspects that are important to an enthusiast. I am not even a fan of hockey and I wish these were the pieces I focused on more as a young collector.

So if you remember playing with starting lineup figures as a child or even a young adult and know that you have multiple pieces that fit the description of the peices above, it may be time to start cleaning out your closet in an attempt to find some ebay gems. Good luck searching!
Category: NFL
Posted on: July 1, 2009 11:06 am
Edited on: July 1, 2009 11:17 am

Gumball Helmet Gold

Do you remember those tiny football helmets in the gumball machines that were frequently seen when walking out of Publix or any other supermarket when you were a child? Of course you do, because whether or not you collected the helmets, you always convinced your mom to hand over her change in an attempt to pull your favorite team out of the machine. Granted, I always ended up getting more duplicates of the Jets helmets in an attempt to secure some Dolphins memorabilia, but I had to try anyway.

While I was able to procure the entire set on my own by countless turns of the quarter machine, it was no small task. I can remember riding my bike to Publix and sitting in front of the gumball machine with rolls of quarters in my pocket that I had collected or "borrowed" from my dad's stash of change. After months of work, and just after my 10th Green Bay Packers helmet, I finally completed the set with the last helmet that I needed, the Seattle Seahawks. Oh how glorious it looked when it hit the bottom of the machine. All the patrons in the store had no idea that they were part of a monumental occasion.

Well, the gumball helmet industry has not only grown since the days that I was an ankle-biter but it dates back to much earlier than that. And while I was collecting helmets from an early age, I didn't realize this until I was in college. Today, you can easily go online and order a complete set of the current NFL teams, which are constructed much more soundly, along with a display case for about $60. However, the real fun comes with the thrill of searching for rare helmets that date back to the early 1960's. And while I'm sure the collectors were pulling these helmets out of the machines for less than a quarter, some of these helmets are selling individually for anywhere from $40 to $300.

While this may seem like a silly thing to collect, this is the perfect hobby for fans that love old-school football memorabilia but don't want to spend a lot of money. And while the older helmets are a little beat-up and less crisp as the newer ones, it's really cool to see the development of the league and the way logos have changed over the years. Let's take a look at what you can expect from the throwback helmets.

The blue Broncos helmet with the famous D that John Elway made memorable is not that rare but still a nice piece to have while the other three here are a little harder to find. I always liked that white Buffalo Bills helmet as the red logo reminds me of the bison from the "Oregon Trail" and the white Eagles helmet is pretty much the oppostie of what they are currently wearing. Other than the blue broncos helmet, these pieces would probably sell for around $5-10.

One of my favorites is the blue Oilers helmet which has many different variations depending on the number of stripes across the top. You can also find original Oilers helmets in silver and white as well. Interestingly, the current Jets helmet is their throwback helmet as this one is actually from the 60's as you can tell by the dirt on the helmet. The old Giants and Chargers helmets are also nice pieces as most of the helmets here would also sell for about $5-10 dollars with the Oilers helmet maybe getting about $20 or $30.

And if paying over $5 dollars let alone $300 for a gumball helmet sounds a bit ridiculous, you can always get the replica throwback helmets made for you at about $3 a piece which is what you are looking at here. The black Saints helmet on the far left of the top shelf is the rarest helmet and the one that costs $300. The fourth helmet on the top shelf is probably my second favorite and is an orange Broncos helmet with the white bucking bronco and sells for about $150. I don't believe any of the chargers gumball helmets were orignially made with the number, and they are strictly replicas although they do look pretty cool. Some other interesting helmets include the yellow Steelers helmet along with the yellow and Florida State-looking Redskins helmet. These sell for around $20-$40. You can also see how many different Oilers helmets were made as they are all visible on the third row from the top and also happen to be my favorite. Like I said before, most of them go for around $30 but the blue one with the three red stripes is much rarer and goes for around $200. Whether you are the type of collector that must have the originally made helmets or just likes to display the different styles of helmets from each decade, you can't debate how intriguing of a collection this would be for any sports fan. After all, your house will probably be the only one that includes a detailed history of football helmets for your guests from just a collection of tiny pieces of plastic. Also, for your viewing pleasure, he is a closer view of some of the throwback helmets along with a picture of what the newest NFL gumball helmets look like below.

So if you used to collect these artifacts twenty or thirty years ago, i would suggest cleaning out your closet.

Posted on: June 30, 2009 5:00 pm


I don't understand why the Lions would even consider sitting Matthew Stafford to begin the season. I understand that he is their franchise quarterback but that is even more of a reason to throw him into the fire. For most teams this would be a bit more understandable as they are attempting to protect their young quarterbacks, but there really isn't much to protect him from. News flash! The Lions didn't win a game last year. I could have been their quarterback and they would have had the exact same record. As a matter of fact, they could have thrown a scarecrow under center with a Lions jersey last year and they would have had the same record. They may have even beat the teams with birds as their mascot with a scarecrow out there, because we sure as hell know that they aren't scared of lions. Stafford has nothing to lose. He can win one game, and the fans will call him the second coming of...well, i can't really think of a quarterback that was ever good for the Lions, but you know where I am going with this. Either way, I say start Stafford or at least throw a scarecrow out their with his jersey on for marketting purposes.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 23, 2009 2:13 pm

Plax in Kevlar

With the Jets' interest in estranged wide receiver Plaxico Burress growing, team management is considering adding a clause in his contract which will force him to wear bullet proof sliding pants while on the field and bullet proof pants when attending any events off the field. As you can see with his hat-angle selection, his sense of style may be a bit limited with this news, but the Jets feel it is necessary to keep their possible star receiver safe from injury. The pockets on the pants are about the spot where the receiver shot himself, which works out perfectly as extra kevlar padding can be added to prevent this incident from happening again. The bullet proff sliding pants seem to be a bit excessive, but hey, we all saw what happened in "The Last Boyscout."

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 20, 2009 3:54 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2009 4:02 pm

Crazy or Manly?

That's a good question and I'm not quite sure I have the answer. So what is the best thing to do when you don't have an answer? Make up a word. That means they cranly. All of them. What am I talking about? Australian Rules Football players and rugby players. While at an Irish bar last night, McSorley's on the fort lauderdale beach to be exact, I happened to have the opportunity to watch Australia play Italy in the Australian Football League, which is very similar to rugby. I have watched this sport before, so when I saw them wearing helmets that were fit for a child when it first starts walking, I wasn't shocked, but I still had to shake my head and mumble a few curse words to myself which involved the word crazy, followed by an noun and a verb. I also found the scrums to be pretty intriguing, which is pretty much the equivalent of what happens on the line of scrimmage after the ball is slapped, except in this sport, they don't have any real helmets or pads on. Like I said, "crazy adjectiver verbers!!!!"

But the most intriguing thing about what I noticed is that a) I only say one guy get injured and b) when the guy did get injured, the game didn't stop and nobody even flinched. The guy layed there for about thirty seconds before any trainers came onto the field, and when they did reach the injured player, play continued. The guy was just laying there with about four trainers around him and people were running past them It was as if the guy didn't exist. Can you imagine if during the Super Bowl, Santonio Holmes wen't down with a leg injury and along with the trainers, another receiver was just sent on the field and play resumed. That sounds archaic right, well apparently not. So this is why I asked myself, are Australians just crazy or are they manlier than wimpy Americans. After a long discussion with myself, yes I talk to myself and don't act like you don't, I came to the realization that I don't really want to go on record as refering to Ray Lewis as a wimp. With that in mind, I can't really say Australians are manlier than Americans, but I know so many people that are out of their minds that Australians can't possibly be crazier than Americans. So with all this information, I am now just going to refer to Australians as cranly. Or maybe I'm just a wimpy American in denial...

This is an American "so called scrum." Notice the nice pretty helmets and padding. Below the red line is an Australian Rules scrum. Notice the lack of helmets....actually forget that, notice the lack of visual heads. What is going on down there!?!? Now take a glance to the right and look at the difference betweent the helmets. The American football helmet on the left has thick padding surrounded by a hard shell with a facemask, while the Australian rules helmet has thin padding surrounded by...cranliness!

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 16, 2009 6:20 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2009 6:28 pm

Checklist of Josh McDaniels' Goals

The new head coach of the Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels is doing an amazing job...if he is hoping to destroy one of the most storied NFL franchises in only one year. Thanks to my inside sources, I have acquired a checklist of Josh McDaniels' goals for the 2009 season.


1. Expose myself as a liar : Check

2. Stockpile more running backs than we need : Check

3. Trade Away Franchise Quarterback : Check

4. Use my first round pick on another running back : Check

5. Name a backup quarterback as my starting quarterback : Check

6 . Upset my Pro-Bowl receiver to the point where he requests a trade : Check

7. Make Al Davis look sane again : Check

8. Lose at least once to every team in the AFC West : Looking promising

9. Finish dead last in the NFL : Man I envy the Detroit Lions

10 . Use the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft on another running back : Man I love running backs

Bonus: Get rid of all these No. 7 jerseys hanging up on the walls. Who is this guy?

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 28, 2009 9:01 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2009 4:13 pm

Sorry, We're Out of Draft

As much as I live for the NFL Draft, it's tough for me to say that I'm glad it's over. When the draft is actually going on, I can't get enough of it. Even as a little kid, I can remember recording every pick that was made on my own draft board and crossing off the names once they were selected. Of course, my day was always ruined once the Dolphins made their first pick, but I was always excited up until that point. I don't know what it is about being involved in a draft that intrigues me, but I have always been enamored with everything that goes along with it. I'm sure it has a lot to do with my love for fantasy football, college football and the NFL from a young age, and I guess that's why there are certain things that are starting to bother me. I'm sure that I'm not the only person starting to get fed up with everything surrounding the draft, but I have a few ideas to help fix these problems, because nobody likes a complainer unless he or she actually has something to offer better than what is currently in place...

Coverage before the draft : As most of you can tell, the coverage of the draft begins about two months before the actual draft starts and it is starting to become...well no, it has become a bit of an overkill. And since the NFL and everything that revolves around it is a cash cow, I'm afraid the coverage is not only going to continue but increase with every year. Now, I don't think it is the amount of coverage that is a problem, but it's the lack in variety of coverage that upsets me. For eight weeks all we do is hear about who the No. 1 pick is going to be, the players that are going to get drafted in the top ten and the remaining players that will go in the first round. Yes, that is something that I want to know, but not every day for eight weeks. In case nobody has noticed, there are seven rounds in the draft. I would like to know how many picks my favorite team has, what position and which players they should be drafting each round and what players are expected to go in which round. When the fourth round and later rounds come around, I have no idea who anyone is and I know that I am not alone with this problem. I could see taking a week to review each round, what kind of players should be going in each round and the caliber of players that have been chosen in that round in the past.  So not only would this prevent an overkill of information, but it would create more of an intrigue for fans when it comes to the later rounds and more of an understanding as to why each team chose the player that it did.

Draft experts : As far as I am concerned, unless you have been a scout, worked out all these players individually, actually been in the War Room of an NFL team and actually been involved in the entire process of a draft, you are not an expert. All these self proclaimed experts, including the ones on our site, are no more qualified to do what they do than any other fan. If you payed me to educate myself on the draft, I follow the college game enough to be able to do just as good of a job. What I would like to see is someone given the opportunity to become a draft expert that has been a head coach or general manager of an actual NFL team. Maybe someone like a Bill Cowher or Charlie Casserly. I would love to receive as much information as possible from someone with that knowledge, and man what I would give just to sit in the War Room with Bill Parcells!

Coverage of the draft : I actually don't think the coverage of the draft is all that bad as it's very tough to follow each and every pick and trade that goes down, but I would like to know more about my own team that is involved in the draft. I think every team should have its own draft channel which follows the draft and updates its fans on what the team is thinking, the players that they are hoping will fall and who they would be willing to trade up and select. Obviously this wouldn't be insider info because there is no way any general manager or coach would leak anything that they are planning on doing, but every team has insiders that know more than the masses about the team. Maybe I should start a show for the Miami Dolphins draft!

After the draft : And now we get to the much debated grades after the draft. I'm not going to lie, I look forward to the grades, and I read them all with interest, but I never take them seriously because not even the most qualified and knowledgable football minds could correctly grade a draft after it was completed. What bothers me is that every expert prefices their article about draft grades, saying that nobody can truly grade a draft until a player has gone through three years in the NFL. Which I agree with. Well, how come we never actually see any grades of teams after three years. I know that we aren't going to eliminate the report cards for the day after the draft, but why not come out with grades of the draft that occured three years ago to go along with the immediate grades. Not only is that something that I would be interested in reading, but it's definitely something that I would be interested in writing. Shoot that is a great idea! If I can actually motivate myself to write more than a blog, I will definitely do that.

Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Draft
Posted on: April 8, 2009 12:59 pm

Posing as Parcells

Apparently the important people in charge of organizing this inaugural NFL Mock Draft suffered a massive trauma to the head on the day I applied to represent the Dolphins since I was actually accepted. Let's take a look at why they thought I was qualified...

I have been working for CBSSports for over three years now and I have been a Miami Dolphins fan since I was old enough to remember anything at all. I believe my first coherent phrase as a child was "Touchdown Dolphins!" Miami Dolphins Football was more of a religion in my household and missing a Dolphins game was grounds for excommunication, which is why I have never missed one. I can remember crying myself to sleep the year Pete Stoyanovich missed a game winning field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs along with my mother consistently lecturing me on how I can't allow a loss to affect my entire week. I have since become a little more capable of handling wins and losses with a steadier outlook on the season and franchise, but the passion still remains the same as my knowledge about the game continues to grow. 

The NFL Draft has become an unheralded event and rightfully so as teams have created NFL powerhouses from the perfect college talent like the Patriots, while others have created quite the opposite like the Lions. I graduated from the University of Florida where I became a die hard Florida Gator fan, but more importantly for the sake of this draft, highly knowledgeable of college talent. Over the years I have learned the type of skillset and disposition it takes for a student athlete to make a successful transition from college to the pros. Now we all know that this isn't an exact science, but there are obvious trends and strategies that lead to a successful draft.

I have never considered the Dolphins to be a franchise that excels when it comes to the draft. Don Shula is arguably one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL, but I never thought he produced any exceptional drafts. Jimmie Johnson was considered a draft expert and he proved to be so finding the likes of Jason Taylor and Zack Thomas, but I feel he was pressured to add offensive weapons for Dan Marino, which also led him to make some terrible picks like Jon Avery when Randy Moss was still on the board. Dave Wanstedt was below average when it came to the draft and I am being nice about that and I am not even going to bring up the one year Cam Cameron was here. Unfortunately, I felt Nick Saban did a great job in his first draft by selecting Ronnie Brown, Channing Crowder and Matt Roth, but we don't speak of this man, so lets pretend I didn't write this sentence.

Obviously, Bill Parcells knows what he is doing and I don't really see myself questioning any decisions he makes, especially after the miracle he produced last year, but I welcome the challenge of representing the Miami Dolphins and all the die hard fans that would give anything to be in that War Room with an input come draft day. On the day of the draft and before the luxury of the internet, I can remember sitting in front of the television for the whole weekend and recording every single draft pick for every round of the draft. Interestingly enough, last year's selection of Jake Long with the first pick is the only pick I can remember agreeing with the front office of the Miami Dolphins about (with the exception of the unspoken coaches picks). I am honored to have an oppourtinity like this and I will undoubtedly take it seriously...and who knows, maybe Parcells will take notice of the pick that comes from the knowledgeable minds of Miami Dolphins Nation.

Also, after studying the draft history of the Miami Dolphins, I decided to point out three of the franchises best drafts with the picks that stand out.

1983 (Head Coach Don Shula) - Mark Clayton and Dan Marino in the same draft...That changes the franchise right there!

Round 1 Dan Marino
Round 2 Mike Charles
Round 6 Reggie Roby
Round 8 Mark Clayton

1990 (Head Coach Don Shula) - I didn't realize that Richmond Webb and Keith Sims were drafted the same year.

Round 1 Richmond Webb
Round 2 Keith Sims
Round 4 Scott Mitchell

2005 (Head Coach Nick Saban) - Despite Mr. Saban being a lier, he did leave us with some talent after this draft.

Round 1 Ronnie Brown
Round 2 Matt Roth
Round 3 Channing Crowder
Round 4 Travis Daniels

Other outstanding selections : Randy McMichael (Fourth Round 2002), Chris Chambers (Second Round 2001), Patrick Surtain (Second Round 1998), Sam Madison (Second Round 1997), Jason Taylor (Third Round 1997), Zach Thomas (Fifth Round 1996), Tim Bowens (First Round 1994), John Offerdahl (Second Round 1986), Mark Duper (Second Round 1982), David Woodley (Eighth Round 1980), Nat Moore (Third Round 1974) Kim Bokamper (First Round 1976), Don Strock (Fifth Round 1976), Joe Theisman (Fourth Round 1974 I HAD NO IDEA!!!! ), Larry Csonka (First Round 1968), Bob Griese (First Round 1976)





The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or