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A Tarkenton I had to have


Jan 19, 2010
I first became aware of this card when I saw one listed on COMC earlier this year. The seller was asking $90, which I thought was ridiculous, but I had never seen or heard of it before. That doesn't mean much, since I have not really collected football cards seriously for years. I checked and it was not listed in the Beckett Almanac I had, at least not where I could find it. Still, Tarkenton and the Vikings were an early favorite of mine when I first started colelcting cards in the late 70s. He would be included in the 1979 set, my first year of football card collecting (his worst card ever, by the way), but then he was gone into retirement. I still liked and collected his cards, but moved on to Tommy Kramer (who was active) and also the Raiders, the favorite team.

I scoured ebay and the internet to see if I could find out more about this unique card and found nothing becsides the COMC listing. It would appear that it is some sort of promotional card for the National Life insurance Co, and I assume Tarkenton either worked for or was a spokesman for atfer his career in football ended. It looked old too and on the back under stats, shows 1982 for National, so I assume that is when it was issued. Perhaps they were a sort of business card/promotional item made just for Fran to give away to friends, clients and at appearances, or perhaps they were marketing material that other employees could use as well. I don't know at this point.

Because I especially love the oddball, this card featuring an all time favorite of mine and having a mysterious background, made it an instant must have for me. Plus I love the vintage and clean design too. Just not for $90 or even $45 (the minimum I could even opffer through COMC). I put it on an ebay saved search and figured I'd probably never see it again.

While on vacation in August, I got a hit. Someone had actually listed one at a $5 opening bid price. I watched and waited. I set up a snipe bid and won the card for under $10. I paid as soon as I could (i was overseas and had limited internet access). I figured by the time I returned home from vacation, my card would be waiting for me. I had not been this excited for a football card in years. A few days after returning home, I still had not gone back to work where my mail was, so I didn't have it in hand yet. There was no tracking, so I had no idea if it was there or still in route. I was pretty excited though.

I believe it was a day before I was to return to work, I got a message from ebay saying the seller was requesting to cancel the purchase. No message from the seller direct, no explanation. I was concerned because I figured this was possibly my only shot at this card. I messaged the seller (who was a 0 feedback, by the way) asking why they wanted to cancel. Apparently, they had a change of heart. Their father had worked for National Life and Fran has given him the card. The father later died of Leukemia. They just couldn't let the card go for sentimental reasons, so the story went.

I responded that I appreciated their story and IF it were all true, I was sorry to hear, but this would not be the first time I was handed a story about why an ebay transaction could not be completed and they were all, surprisingly, heart string tuggers! Brother died, I was in the hospital near death, etc, etc. i think we have all heard one or more if you have been on ebay long enough. I suggested that by listing it to begin with, waiting the full 7 (maybe 10 for this one) days for the card to sell, accpeting payment and then waiting further a good 5+ days before contacting me with that story made it very hard to believe this was the actual reason for the cancellation. That had other assorted cards listed too, but not sure if those sold or not. I also reminded them that the auction was in fact a contract between buyer and seller once I bid and furthermore once the listing ended with me as the high bidder with my payment following. I asked them to do the right thing and complete the transaction. They ignored me from that point on and ultimately refunded my money. I'm sorry if this sounds cold, but true or not, how does a trading card given to your father by a celebrity mean all that much to you? I have alot of things my father had in his possession when he died, but nothing has any special sentimental value to me other than they were just things my dad owned. I was upset about winning, paying then still not getting this cool card, but at that point, what can you do?

I figure the story would end there for a while, but amazingly enough, another one popped up a week or two later. I am immediately suspicious. Is this the same card from the original seller? Have they gotten over their feelings and listed it for a 2nd go, hoping to get more? I check and they don't appear to be the same card and the two accounts were in different states. This time, the card starts at $10. I place a marker bid and wait, again. Last time I won the card, but there was at least 1 other bidder too. I set a snipe bid and hoped it would hold up. Less than the $45 I referenced earlier, but more than $10. I wanted this damn card, regardless of how rare it may or may not be. After all, I had now seen 3 copies in just a few months after never seeing it before.

The 7 days of waiting was agonizing and when the auction ended while I was at work, I didn't find out until I returned home that night. Once again I was the winner of this card for the 2nd time in a month. I paid immediately and waited once more, hoping for a trouble free transaction this time. Last week, the card arrived and now I finally have this card securely in my collection. Again, not sure how common or rare they are or if $10 was a high price or a steal, but I am happy with it. First football card I have really wanted badly in years. I have kept my ebay search in place just to see if this card shows up again, and if so, how often. Might even try for another copy if I can.

Anyone else have one or know more about it? I was afraid to raise the subject before for fear of losing out on it if I brough extra attention to the card.

Fran F.jpgFran B.jpg


Jan 19, 2010
Yep, that is the same copy that I mentioned in my story. The one that introduced me to the existance of this card. I don't see that card selling for even close to half of what they are asking, but you never know...

I see there is a copy on COMC for about $90.. :)


Well-known member
Aug 7, 2008
Laguna Niguel, CA
I had this card in my watch list from EBAY and the guy wanted $150. (Zero Feedback as well) and so it just sat there for awhile and then I just got my EBAY Bucks which would have covered most of it.. but then the seller sent me a best offer..

I looked at the offer of $124.99 as a reasonable offer and then now with the new EBAY tax, it brought it back up to $134.68.. So I snagged it and used my EBAY bucks so it only cost me $21.. :).. Sometimes being patient can help..


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