By Jeffrey J. Miller
There was a classic commercial which featured Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula, which is interesting in hindsight since the Dolphins’ historic undefeated season was that very same year.
Two different books were available to collectors. The first was the budget priced 56-page book for 89 cents, which contained a review of the previous year’s Super Bowl and stamp pages for every NFL team. The deluxe version, at $2.49, was a lavish 128 pages with team histories and photos of each team’s notable players. Each book came with six 24-stamp sheets (144 stamps) to get the collector started. The rest of the collection would have to be acquired at the gas station or via trade with the kids’ friends. Though it was important to gather the entire collection, there were many notable Only-Issues, Rookies and Hall of Famers, including Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, O.J. Simpson, Alan Page, Bart Starr, Bob Lilly, Dick Butkus, Herb Adderley, and many more. And where else is one going to find a (Saints CB) D’Artagnan Martin or (Oakland WR) Drew Buie card? This was it!
There was an 82-piece supplement to the original 624-stamp collection released later that fall. It featured players who had been recently acquired, traded, whatever. It's not exactly clear how these pieces were supposed to fit into the collector books, but they were available in short supply, and are now extremely hard to find.
I still have my original book, along with a couple of others I picked up over the years. They are pretty beat up, and only one is complete. Every once in a while, I will be looking for something in my archive closet and come across them but have not spent much time looking at one in years. That changed recently while I was looking for a book on eBay and a couple of these books came up on my feed. Curiosity got the better of me and I ventured down the rabbit hole. Sealed copies of the books were going for astronomical prices (in my opinion) but after thinking about it, I figured such copies must be extremely rare. After all, where would somebody find them? However, I came across a guy who actually had a few sealed deluxe versions for $35! Not too hefty. I do not know why, but my impulses got the better of me and I ordered one. It arrived a week later. It was sealed and, as a long-time vinyl record collector well aware of how much a sealed item depreciates after removing the shrink wrap, I decided to open it up and bask in its pristine glory. I was glad I did! This book really belongs in my vast football library. What a great time capsule, on par with the “Football Stars of 1969” type books published by Pyramid Books and other houses back when I was a kid. Plus, the photography was outstanding.
I am also very interested to hear from others who collected these stamps as a kid. Do you still have your books? How far did you get in collecting the entire lot?