The Driver Suit Blog-From Nomex to Polyester: Part 2

By David G. Firestone

Since this weekend is the opening week for the NFL, I felt I’d shift gears, and talk about football memorabilia this week. I’m a football fan when I’m not watching auto racing. I didn’t get into football until I was in high school, but now I follow the NFL regularly. I almost got into the NFL Draft in 2016. I also periodically buy NFL memorabilia. As regular readers know, I buy game-used toss coins, but I also buy other NFL toss coins.

The commemorative coins used for the coin toss have become a collector’s market of their own. While made by different companies over the years, The Highland Mint, based in Melbourne, Florida has become the leader in sports commemorative coin manufacturing. They produce coins for the NFL for their coin tosses and fan souvenirs. An example is this 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers coin set, which has a standard coin, an NFL Kickoff Coin, and, strangely, an NFL Thanksgiving coin, even though Tampa Bay didn’t play on Thanksgiving in 2004, and played an AWAY game that week.This set, limited edition #10 of 1,500, is in decent condition with the coins in great condition, and the case a bit worse for wear. The first of three coins is the standard Buccaneers’ Home toss coin, which features a TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS logo on the front, and an NFL logo on the back. The NFL Kickoff coin is the second coin, this one features a Buccaneers’ helmet logo on the front and a 2004 NFL Kickoff logo on the rear. The third coins is the aforementioned Thanksgiving coin, which is odd, since the NFL only uses that logo on Thanksgiving day, not the whole week. It is the same as the NFL Kickoff coin, but with an NFL Thanksgiving Day logo. This is an example of a standard-issue NFL Highland Mint toss coin, this one the New York Giants, numbered 840 of 5000. It is in decent condition.

Everyone will always remember the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for a game between the Packers and the Colts that never happened. The game was canceled because the brand new field had to be repainted, and the field wasn’t ready in time. This commemorative silver coin, numbered 229 of 5,000, was made for the weekend festivities. It is in decent condition, but the case shows wear. This is a slightly smaller coin made to be sold in souvenir stands. It’s inexpensive, and smaller than the real coins. This was made for Super Bowl XXXVIII, which saw the Patriots beat the Panthers 32-29. It is in great condition. In addition to coins, I’m also into collecting other football items, such as this vintage tear-away jersey. For many years, football jerseys were made of durene, a treated, heavy polyester. This proved problematic for teams playing in hot weather cities, so a lighter jersey, similar to a t-shirt was introduced in the 1970’s. These jerseys were so delicate, they could be torn to shreds after only one game, and the NFL finally banned them, replacing them with the current mesh material. This example dates to the 1970’s, and shows heavy wear with tears all over.The numbers are heat-pressed on, and the front numbers show repair work. The shoulders show wear, including tears and stains. The back shows the same wear as the front, stains, tears, and repairs. This is a wristband that was worn by a member of the LA Rams in the late 1980’s to the early 1990’s, and it shows great use.The first player in football history to win a Super Bowl and an XFL Million Dollar Game, David Richie had an unremarkable career aside from that piece of trivia. He played in Super Bowl XXXII for the Denver Broncos, and the XFL Million Dollar Game in 2001. These gloves were worn by, and signed by David Richie. One piece of NFL gear that gets replaced frequently is the face mask. Often replaced because of damage, masks are a part of the helmet that suffers damage from impact more than the helmet shell. This example was worn by New York Giants Defensive Tackle Fred Robbins. It was worn on October 2, 2005, playing at home against the Rams. While his stats for the game were not impressive, the damage on this face mask is, with numerous dings and scuff marks.

I collect a lot of stadium memorabilia. One of my favorite things to collect is turf. Turf is pulled up and replaced every few years. This large example is the size of a doormat, and comes from the end zone of Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon, home of the Oregon Ducks.Lyle Smith Field in Boise will forever be known for its blue turf, where the Boise State Broncos play. This is an example of that blue turf, one foot tall, in the shape of Idaho.Three Rivers Stadium was a cookie-cutter multi-purpose stadium in Pittsburgh. It lasted until 2001, when it was demolished, and replaced with newer venues. This plaque has a piece of turf and a piece of a seat.Every sports fan in San Francisco will forever remember Candlestick Park, be it for Joe Montana and Steve Young, or the 1989 Earthquake. It was also the site of the final concert of the Beatles. Like many classic stadiums, Candlestick has been demolished, and replaced with newer venues. While Candlestick Park used grass for most of its history, from 1970 to 1978, it had turf installed, and this 13″ by 13″ piece was given away. It shows nice use.This small 3″ by 3″ piece of Soldier Field Turf was used from 1977 to 1988, and was replaced by grass. When it was removed, it was sold in Shell stations with an 8 gallon fill-up. This piece has part white, and part green, and is in decent condition.Before the renovations which left it looking like a UFO landed on a Roman Colosseum, Soldier Field was a traditional stadium with a traditional look. In 2002, renovations began, and many old components were removed and replaced. Once such piece is ths GATE 31 sign, with a Walter Payton sticker still attached. It shows nice, weathered use. This last item is a set of notes written by Captain Beckwith from the Union College Dutchmen from 1895. For a document this old, it’s in great condition.I find NFL stuff to be interesting, and I’ve covered some aspects of my collection in previous articles. There are some things I would like to buy, such as yard markers, maybe a goal post, and some penalty flags. Speaking of flags, I’m going to discuss some racing flags next week.

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