I reflexively grow suspicious whenever an athlete uses himself for any promotional purpose, and the more out-of-character the appearance is, the more suspicious I get. Whenever I hear of a player "having some fun on the set," or hear a guy say through his agent that he "had a really great time" at a photo shoot, my level of suspicion immediately ramps up to critical levels.
These guys are like most people, in that they aren't socially energetic extroverts. They're the Straight Man in every commercial. They stand there like a prop as Rabid Fan hatches a Crazy Plot with Other Rabid Fan. They're passable on billboards with milk mustaches only because they aren't moving.
When you read a promotional puff piece of the promotion (An advertisement of an advertisement! We are all insane!) and see a photo of Dan Marino smiling and sort of half-hugging the commercial director's production assistant, he is not, as the caption will claim, "clowning around on the set." He is a dog in a crate, hungry, thirsty, terrified, desperate to get off the plane. I feel awful. What are you doing to this man? Why would I make myself a participant in this agony by purchasing your product? What are you selling again? God, man, who cares?
I think I'm really exaggerating here, just because that's the way I would be in such a situation. I'm sure that every day, athletes take photo shoots, commercials, what have you, in stride. They do what they need to do, and it isn't a big deal.
In this case -- the case of this Monsters of the Gridiron football card set -- I know I'm not exaggerating. Look in their eyes! They wish they were dead.
These really may be the dumbest cards in the history of Sports Cards For Insane People. Deep breath. (And once again, I have delved into the unbelievably throrough depths of Check Out My Cards to find these monstrosities.)
No. 19, John Randle
Okay what the f*** y'all.
John Randle is a terrific football player! Let's dress him up like a train and make him ride an invisible bicycle. If this three-armed mutant of an idea were born in 2011, they would simply Photoshop the players into ridiculous costumes instead of dragging them into the studio and putting them through this terrible ordeal.
Again, look at those dead eyes. He's full of sorrow. Even when photographed, printed, shoved into a box for nearly two decades, taken out, scanned, and reproduced electronically over the Internet, there is enough sorrow here to spackle a hole in the wall.
What it looks like John Randle is thinking about: an orphaned baby left on the doorstep of an abandoned house; also, it is raining
No. 24, Randall Cunningham
Back in the day, quarterbacks were barely-mobile football cannons. I mean, they could move, but it involved a dozen plow horses and the building of railroad track. Then Randall Cunningham came around and actually started running around with the ball, so we all freaked out and made him literally be a rocket. I hate us.
What it looks like Randall Cunningham is thinking about: an astronaut whose cables came loose during a spacewalk and he floated off into space, never to be recovered, but there's a weird chemical or something in space that makes him stay alive forever
No. 8, Emmitt Smith
Crime lord: I'm gonna take over this town, see!
Other crime lord: How are you going to do that?
Crime lord: I'm going to go up to the police and hit them on the shoulders a bunch until they give up!
Other crime lord: But the administrator of the local law enforcement authority has giant shoulder pads! His shoulders are impenetrable!
Crime lord: AAAGH!
Other crime lord: FOILED AGAIN!
Crime lord: We are crime lord friends.
What it looks like Emmitt Smith is thinking about: old people who are really poor
No. 30, Ken Harvey
YOU ARE WEARING THE END OF A CONDOM ON YOUR HEAD
What it looks like Ken Harvey is thinking about: actually he looks pretty happy, which is weird
No. 18, Marco Coleman
Listen, dingus. I know Coca-Cola gave you a large budget and a long leash, and you've decided that it would be neat to enlist the expensive services of NFL players just to dress them up like a bunch of damn Zoobileezoos. That doesn't mean you don't have to make choices. All right? One or the other. He's a cobra, or he's not. He has reptile hands, or he doesn't. Shape up.
What it looks like Marco Coleman is thinking about: The Giving Tree
No. 20, Bruce Armstrong
Dang, they kind of whiffed on this one, huh? His name is Bruce Armstrong. It's the 1990s, right? They love puns. Puns and pogs, it's all they know. Instead, they pull an absolute U-turn and instead of giving him muscly arms and calling him STRONG ARMS or STRONG MAN or whatever, they just remove his arms entirely.
Anyway, you're an offensive lineman whose monster ability is being really good at... holding. Welp.
What it looks like Bruce Armstrong is thinking about: The goofus on the Internet 17 years in the future who's actually going to look at this card and be all "haha look at this logical fallacy that I noticed in this f***ing football card for children, this sure is the bee's knees"
Eric Turner, No. 7
I'm mostly just bringing up this guy because there's something about a hairy helmet that is terribly gross and upsetting.
What it looks like Eric Turner is thinking about: all the once-living, breathing, thinking creatures he's eaten because everyone else told him it was okay
Chester McGlockton, No. 16
I will say this about "Monsters of the Gridiron": it's terrible and silly in so many ways, but there have been tons of mailed-in, lazy card sets, and this is not one of them. This card seems to be the lone exception.
"All right dude, I'm about to shove off... I guess just stand there and put a skull on top of your skull. You know, so you have two skulls. Why is that the case? Spooooky!!!!! And here, I'll just cut a hole in the middle of this moving blanket I stole out of the back of a U-Haul. Now you're a monster guy!!!! Arrrrrrrrrgh! Shiver me-- you don't like it? You don't like it. Oh, I was just going to say 'shiver me timbers' is all. I don't know why."
What it looks like Chester McGlockton is thinking about: the episode of Fresh Prince where Will's dad leaves him; in particular, the slow zoom in the last shot of the figurine of the man holding a child and there's no sound except for sobbing noises from a random person in the audience.