Friday, January 7, 2011

NFL Wildcard Weekend is here. Wondering about collectible football books?

Anne and I traveled to Chicago in December to attend the Bears vs. Patriots game in snowy, windy and very cold, Soldier Field.  We are a mixed marriage and proudly entered the stadium with me in Bears' orange/blue, and Anne in Patriots' red, white and blue.  It was a terrible game to watch for this life-long Bears fan.  Anne was thrilled to witness the complete dominance of her New England Patriots.  Now, we both hope for a rematch in the super bowl. 

The NFL playoff begin this weekend and I decided to compare the Bears and Patriots based on the price of "rare" and/or "collectible" books.  Since the Bears are a founding member of the NFL and the Patriots relative newcomers, arising from that other league (AFL), I was interested in seeing what books associated with each team have achieved some interesting monetary value over time.  Sure, the true NFL collector will be interested in jerseys, signed balls, hats and ticket stubs, but a book collector can also play along.

I decided to just search Advanced Book Exchange and see what happens.  The tale of the tape is 1468 titles include the keyword "Chicago Bears," and 958 include the keyword "New England Patriots".  Bears win!

The most expensive book for sales associated with the Chicago Bears is a 1930 University of Minnesota Yearbook, The Gopher, including a full page photo of Bears legend and charter member of the Hall of Fame, Bronko Nagurski, (offered for $459.00)

The most expensive book for sale associated with the New England Patriots is Any Boy Can, The Archie Moore story, signed for a New England Patriots fan by Brian Holloway($426.80).  Not really a book about the Patriots just signed by a player.  Since this is a stretch, the second most expensive title on the Patriots ledger is Happy to Be Alive by the late, Darryl Stingley with Mark Mulvoy, about the terrible injury that crippled Patriot, Stingley, during an exhibition game against the Oakland Raiders in 1978 ($316.76, signed by Stingley).  Bears win!

Okay, so this is not all that interesting. 

As I browse the list of 29, $100+ books associated with the Bears, the selection is rather bland.  Books that would appear rare and growing in value include, Brian Piccolo:  A Short Season, with 21 signatures from former Bears greats ($326.00), and Sayers:  My Life and Times, by Bears great, Gales Sayers, ($250.00), and Butkus:  Flesh and Blood-How I Played the Game of Football, by a true monster of the Midway, Dick Butkus with Pat Smith.

Of the 13 titles priced over $100 associated with he Patriots, the selection seems even worse.  I guess there are Patriots fans who would want a copy of Final Season:  My Last Year as Head Coach in the NFL, by Bill Parcells with Will McDonough, published in 2000.....and Parcells is still around ($299.95).  Or how about, Touchdown!  The Picture History of the American Football League, Putnam, 1967 ($225.00).  Yawn and Bears win!

It seems that sticking to book search, collecting football related books is a bore!  I do, however, believe that every fan of football should own, The Physics of Football: Discover the Science of Bone-Crushing Hits, Soaring Field Goals, and Awe-Inspiring Passes by Timothy Gay with a Foreword by Bill Belichik, the brains and leadership behind the Patriots dominance in the 21st century.  A first printing first edition hardcover will cost somewhere between $50 and $90. 

Some basic data:

Professional football is founded by George Halas with his Decatur Staleys in 1920, the American Professional Football league, later renamed the National Football League (NFL in 1933), included 13 teams with annual membership dues of $100.

1921 Decatur Staleys relocate to Chicago and play in Wrigley Field. 

1922 Decatur Staleys become the Chicago Bears.

The Bears have won 9 titles, 1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, and 1963, and 1 Superbowl, the 1985 destruction of the New England Patriots, in the modern era.

There are 26 Bears in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The New England Patriots were founded in 1959 as part of the American Football League in direct competition with the National Football League.

The first super bowl between the NFL and AFL champions was played in 1967.

In 1970 the AFL and the NFL officially merged.

The Patriots have won 3 titles, all in the Superbowl era, 2001, 2003, 2004.

There are 15 Patriots in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The NFL and AFL merge in 1970.

I still hope for a Bears v. Patriots rematch soon in the Super Bowl.  Patriots win:-(.

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