Sunday, March 27, 2016

2008 Upper Deck New York Giants Super Bowl Champions Box Set

The National Football League's Super Bowl game is easily the most celebrated sporting event in North America, and has been for many years now. Even as a young cavalry scout in the Army back in the 1990s, my fellow rogues and I would often be allowed to report late for work the day after the Super Bowl (this depended on the "cool factor" of our commanding officer). Food retailers report that sales are stronger during Super Bowl weekend than many officially-recognized holidays. Last but not least, we must not forget to honor the advertisers who were willing to pay an average of five million dollars per 30-second commercial spot during Super Bowl 50 this past February.

Needles to say, countless cards have also been printed to celebrate the NFL's season-end championship game. Topps first issued a Super Bowl card in their 1972 football set, which featured Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach scrambling against the stingy Dolphins defense in Super Bowl VI. As far as I can tell, the first "boxed set" of Super Bowl cards was issued by ProSet in 1990 to commemorate the best players and coaches to emerge during the 25-year history of the event (dubbed by ProSet as a limited edition set, these cards are about as scarce as ants at a picnic -- held on an ant farm). 

Super Bowl boxed sets have more or less appeared yearly since ProSet's 1990 release, with numerous manufacturers and formats being used since. One such set was released in 2008 by hobby heavyweight Upper Deck. Packaged in a box similar to the size of "blaster boxes" that can be found at Target and Wal-Mart, this Super Bowl XLII set was printed after the game was played and features only players from the triumphant New York Giants club. Regarded as the biggest upset in Super Bowl history, the Giants managed to come from behind in the final minute of the game to beat the heavily-favored New England Patriots squad.

The colorful box comes factory sealed in clear plastic and measures 6 1/4 inches tall, 3 1/2 inches across and 2 3/4 inches deep. Found inside the box are 50 regular-sized cards and an oversized commemorative card, which measures 5 x 3 1/2 inches. 

Cards are printed on premium medium-weight stock and have a semi-gloss finish applied to both sides. There's no foil to be found on the cards, which many collectors consider a positive trait at this point. Of the 50 regular-sized cards in the box, 40 are dubbed by Upper Deck as regular season player cards, five are regular season highlight cards, four are post season memorable moments cards, and one is a Super Bowl MVP card (Eli Manning). The oversized commemorative card, which features happy Giants Rueben Droughns, Eli Manning and David Tyree, comes sealed in a plastic sleeve that is tucked in a cardboard pouch inside the box.

Nationally-issued football sets rarely include more than a dozen or so players from any given team, meaning most of the unheralded vets and fringe players in the league are usually snubbed on cardboard. This boxed set, with it's roster of 40 different players, ensures that most of the Giants who had a hand in capturing the Lombardi Trophy are represented. Offensive tackle David Diehl, nose tackle Barry Cofield, linebacker Reggie Torbor and fullback Madison Hedgecock are four examples of players who received little to no recognition in mainstream sets after their rookie seasons. Of course all of the Giants stars and starters are also included in the 40-card set, including Eli Manning, Jeremy Shockey and Michael Strahan.

The final ten regular-sized cards feature the three subsets mentioned above; five regular season highlight cards, four post season memorable moments cards and an Eli MVP card. Each of the three subsets features a different design on both the fronts and backs. Of all the five different card designs found inside the box, my personal favorite is the swooping, oval design of the five season highlight cards. While all the designs found here may be a bit cluttered and too graphics-heavy for a regular card issue, a pass can be given when these kinds of designs are found on oddball issues (a pass in my mind, anyway). All the cards in this boxed set are numbered on the backs, as detailed in the checklist below.

All in all, Upper Deck created a nice box o' fun that effectively recaps the Giants' Super Bowl run during the 2007 season. The action photography is world class, and I noticed that the highlight cards feature photos from the actual games where the highlights occurred. Eli collectors definitely need to add a set to the archives, as he's the subject of three different cards. Plaxico and Tyree also capture three cards, while Strahan gets two. Unlike the fateful 1990 ProSet Super Bowl cards of yesterday, which were printed during the height of the junk wax era of overproduction, these Giants cards can't be found next to every anthill.

Click here to hunt for Giants Super Bowl Sets on eBay

Today's price will cost you about the same as when it was issued, in the $8 to $12 range.

Regular Season Player Cards
1. Eli Manning, QB
2. R.W. McQuarters, CB
3. Antonio Pierce, LB
4. David Diehl, T
5. Corey Webster, CB
6. Shaun O'Hara, C
7. Barry Cofield, NT
8. Kevin Boss, TE
9. Reggie Torbor, LB
10. Sam Madison, CB
11. Jeff Feagles, P
12. Madison Hedgecock, FB
13. David Tyree, WR
14. Grey Ruegamer, G
15. Gerris Wilkinson, LB
16. Rueben Droughns, RB
17. Domenik Hixon, WR
18. Kawika Mitchell, LB
19. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB
20. Jeremy Shockey, TE
21. Justin Tuck, DE
22. Amani Toomer, WR
23. Fred Robbins, DT
24. James Butler, SS
25. Brandon Jacobs, RB
26. Osi Umenyiora, DE
27. Aaron Ross, CB
28. Derrick Ward, RB
29. Chris Snee, G
30. Michael Strahan, DE
31. Gibril Wilson, FS
32. Sinorce Moss, WR
33. Lawrence Tynes, K
34. Jay Alford, NT
35. Kareem McKenzie, T
36. Zak DeOssie, LB
37. Kevin Dockery, CB
38. Rich Seubert, G
39. Michael Johnson, S
40. Plaxico Burress, WR

Regular Season Highlight Cards
SH1. Osi Umenyiora
SH2. Michael Strahan
SH3. Derrick Ward
SH4. Plaxico Burress
SH5. Brandon Jacobs

Post Season Memorable Moments Cards
MM1. R.W. McQuarters
MM2. Lawrence Tynes
MM3. David Tyree
MM4. Plaxico Burress

Oversized Commemorative Card
NYG -1 (Rueben Droughns, Eli Manning, David Tyree)

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