What I considered for a long time to be the holy grail of football cards (next to Kordell Stewart's rookie, of course) was found residing amongst a pile of late 70's and early 80's Bears cards in a two row "shoebox". There was Bob Avellini, Mike Hartenstine, Bo Rather, Robin Earl and Dan Peiffer. There was Waymond Bryant, Noah Jackson, Alan Page and a Revie Sorey All-Pro. Then there was this. The only card in the pile protected from the elements by the revolutionary indestructible fortress known as a penny sleeve.
Despite it's confines, tt was beautiful to see. I have come across many of these over the years that have had any number of problems including centering, worn corners, color fading, gum stains, etc. Most of the time, those defects have done little to reduce the asking prices by much more than a few percent. But this specimen...oh, this one looked great. It's a bit off center at first glance but nothing extremely bad. No chipping to the borders or edges. The corners are all sharp, real sharp. If I didn't know better, I would have thought this came right out of a pack.
But alas, the victory was short lived. As I removed it from it's chamber of despair that it had resided in for Lord knows how long, it hit the light just right, revealing several seriously pronounced creases in the top. Most of them stretch from the edge all the way through his face. They aren't significant enough to be seen on the back of the card but the damage, now that it has been revealed, is hard to miss.
You know what though? I don't care. To me, any Walter Payton rookie card is welcome in my collection. After all, he is only one of the greatest running backs of all time. Oh, and the fact that he was one of the nicest human beings who has ever lived doesn't hurt either. Sweetness has a place for sure in the Garage.