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Bob D’Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.

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Collect call: 2012 Topps Valor football

Posted Apr 17, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Apr 17, 2013 at 07:41 PM

Modern day gladiators. It’s a concept that Topps embraced when it created Valor football. The tin that the 2012 Valor cards come in looks like a shield from Sparta, and there is an inspirational quote from Theodore Roosevelt on the back. The promos Topps ran about the product employed the kind of music that used to accompany the voice of John Facenda on those classic NFL Films videos.

You know, something like this:

“In 1957, George Halas took a tip from a jockey at Hialeah Race Track in Miami. And placed a bet — not on a horse — but on a player named Willie Galimore,” said Facenda, known as “the voice of God.”

You get the idea. Topps has sprinkled this product with parallels, like honor, glory, courage, heart, discipline and speed. Somewhere, Vince Lombardi is smiling.

All analogies aside, this is a nice, rustic-looking set. There are 100 cards in the base set numbered to 170, with Glory parallels numbered to 50 and 1/1 Valor parallels. But collectors are not buying this set for the base cards. In every tin, Topps is promising two base cards, two on-card rookie autograph cards, an autograph card of a prominent veteran or retired player, and a rookie patch relic card. So, six cards at a cost somewhere in the $120 range. Is it worth it?

Here is what I pulled.

The first card was a Legionary autograph of Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson. The first time I looked at the card, I thought it said “Legendary” and I was scratching my head. Closer inspection showed the proper spelling. The card is numbered to 75 and it’s an on-card signature in bold, blue Sharpie. Richardson also includes his uniform number (33) in his autograph. There are parallels in this insert set for Speed (numbered to 70), Strength (50), Discipline (25) and Heart (1/1).

The second on-card signature was a Valor Autograph card of Raiders wide receiver Juron Criner. This was a Glory parallel numbered to 25. Criner is shown in action against a backdrop that could pass for the Colosseum in Rome. Nicely done. Some of the type on the backs of the cards takes the military theme to an extreme, but it usually works. Here is the opening sentence for Criner, touting his college days:

“Playing under new field general Tim Kish, Criner and Arizona followed orders on October 20, 2011.”

The third signed card in the set is a J.J. Watt Centurion Autograph, numbered to 304. It is not an on-card signature, but the sticker is not too glaringly bad. Watt’s signature is bold and legible. You have to love that.

The final hot card in the set was a Field Armor patch of Vikings running back Bernard Pierce, numbered to 70. The patch is mostly purple, although there is a hint of gold on the left-hand side. This is a much thicker card than the others, too, nearly twice the thickness of the base and autograph cards.

I really like the design, the background especially makes the player images pop. It’s expensive, but there is some value in the set.

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