Earlier this month, we visited Fleer's profoundly weird Pro-Visions card sets from the early 1990s. There was a little too much strangeness to fit into a single feature, but I don't want you to miss out on the rest of it, because if you don't consume enough strangeness you will contract gout.
Together, then, let's take our medicine and revisit a series of sports cards that feature athletes doing... what are they doing? When you see Tim Salmon swinging a bat while standing in the middle of a brook, you must question what sort of sport he is actually playing. Onward!
(As usual, images of these were found via the indispensable Check Out My Cards.)
Toni Kukoc, 1994-95
This puzzle has been used in international puzzle competitions for decades. It is renowned for being one of the most difficult puzzles ever made: although it only consists of about 50 pieces, players see the pieces and think it's a Michael Jordan puzzle. By the time they get about halfway done, they realize it's actually Toni Kukoc, and elect to stop solving the puzzle because "screw it, it's not even worth it."
The world champion managed to put Kukoc's entire face together before slumping in his chair, making "aaaaagh" noises, and finally rolling down to the ground and falling asleep.
Rod Woodson, 1994
The game: Well, the field of play looks like this.
The object of the game appears to be to take a ball and run through a track. You have to start in the ocean, which sucks real bad. Another catch is that you have to hurdle over field goal posts, but they're really short, so it's basically just like stepping over a bunch of baby gates.
As a defensive/special teams player, Rod Woodson didn't get to score all that many touchdowns. This is what he thinks being an offensive player is actually like. He refers to the goalposts as "the misplaced tuning forks of a forgetful God" and believes that the end zone is a giant Crocodile Mile. He thinks he has it all figured out. He thinks he's so smart. Well, he's not!
Dan Majerle, 1994-95
Here is Diagonal Dan Majerle making a stink-face and a wank-off motion while chilling out in the middle of a fire with a giant mythical bird during a lightning storm. This has to be a sport. If you are doing something dangerous and completely ridiculous that makes absolutely no sense and ultimately accomplishes nothing, you are probably playing a sport.
Might be hockey. I have always wanted to start watching more hockey but have never really gotten around to it.
Tom Glavine, 1993
OK actually, nevermind, I think this is hockey. The penalty being committed in the above illustration is known as "icing."
Jamal Mashburn, 1994-95
Several variants on the game of chess exist, such as Capablanca chess, which is played on a larger board and features the Chancellor (which can move like both a rook and knight) and the Archbishop (which can move like a bishop and knight). Above, we see Mashburn Chess, a variant that allows each side one Jamal Mashburn.
Below is an illustration of the Mashburn Mate, which Kramnik famously used to defeat Kasparov at the 1996 World Championships. We all sort of had Mashburn Fever back then.
Mashburn Chess is not a very fun game.
Joe Montana, 1994
In this game, you are a freelance artist hired by Fleer who must draw a football card despite having no knowledge about football. You win if you can distract the viewer away from the misplaced, oddly short goalpost by making Joe Montana throw a hologram. Look at how happy he is about that hologram! Quarterbacks who smile when they throw creep me the hell out.
Honestly, though, Joe Montana himself was an adequate distraction here, because we were all still having trouble believing that Montana was actually with the Chiefs. The artist seriously could have drawn Hillary Clinton knifing Vince Foster to death in the background and gotten away with it.
Tim Salmon, 1995
Tim Salmon belongs to an elite league of fishermen who prove their worth by fishing with increasingly more challenging tools. This league's scoring system works as follows.
If you catch a fish with a fishing line: 1 point
A bucket tied to a stick: 5 points
A javelin: 10 points
A baseball bat: 20 points
Noodling: 30 points
Just straight-up punching the fish: 50 points
Screaming at them until they die: 100 points
Hiring a hitman (known in some circles as fishassination): 150 points
Manipulating the opinions of the fish population and causing them to turn on one another: 400 points
Real huge rock, just a big ol' huge rock: 1000 points