Thursday, November 19, 2009

Classic card of the week


Yancey Thigpen, 1998 Upper Deck

Sometimes when I am doing research before posting a classic card, I stumble upon some amazing factoids that I would never have discovered were it not for my extreme dedication to reintroducing worthless and ugly sports cards to the insatiable American public. For me, it just kind of reaffirms the fact that: This is my calling.

Case in point. Here is an Upper Deck, Black Diamond Series Yancey Thigpen card. Not much to see here. In fact, my stable of post-worthy football cards is growing very thin. So many times I will Google a player from an otherwise unexciting card to see if there are any worthwhile goodies. This often -– and by often I mean always -– leads me to Wikipedia, which is pretty much my favorite site. As the great Michael Scott once said: “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you’re getting the best possible information.”

The very first thing that I discovered while navigating this Wikipedia page was that Yancey Thigpen’s middle name is Dirk. So here we have an odd first name that seems to purposely defy an original, more common name.

Mother: Your father’s name is Clancy, but I really like the letter “Y.”

Father: How about we add a second “y.” Clancyy.

Mother: No. Screw it. He shall be called “Yancey.”

Father: I want a divorce.

To combine this uncommon first name with the abrupt and very weird middle name of “Dirk” pleases me in a way that I cannot fully express in words. It rolls off the tongue like a thing that does not roll very easily off a tongue. But even though I have wasted much time in examining this name combination, that is not why I am here today.

The reason I am here is because I think -– nay, I am almost certain -– that I have discovered the greatest sentence ever written. In order to provide the necessary context, here is the preceding thought:

In 1998 he signed with the Oilers with a contract that was then the highest known for any wide receiver and played with them for the final three seasons of his career, assisting the team (now known as the Titans) to Super Bowl XXXIV in the 1999 season.

Okay. Not exactly Tolstoy. Lot of “withs” in there. But whatever. Here’s the follow up. Be ready though, because it is extraordinary:

Thigpen's greatest accomplishment in this endeavour might have been the signal from his contract the role Wide Receivers would play in the future.

I have read this sentence approximately 700 times, and I cannot wrap my brain around its awesomeness. Let me start though by acknowledging that the faux-British spelling of endeavor adds a certain class and je ne sais quoi to the sentence overall. I respect that.

So let’s see…”Thigpen’s greatest accomplishment in this endeavour...” In the endeavour of “assisting the team to Super Bowl XXXIV,” Yancey Thigpen accomplished many, many things. For one, he caught some passes. Probably blocked a few guys. He also literally drove the team to the game. And assuredly he assisted the team in other ways that will forever remain unknown and undocumented. Yet, no accomplishment was greater than the signal from his contract.

Yes. Yancey Thigpen’s contract included a signal. It was like the Bat-signal. Except it had a dollar sign. And it alerted other Wide Receivers -– capitalized with a purpose, so as to express the inherent godliness of men who catch footballs for a living –- as to the role they would play in the future. That role? Probably wide receiver. But for more money.

It’s difficult to say how the signal from Yancey Thigpen’s contract specifically affected other Wide Receivers, mostly because that sentence is bereft of the necessary predicate. But we can credit Thigpen himself, because we know it was his accomplishment. In the endeavour.

Unfortunately, Yancey Thigpen’s greatest accomplishment in assisting his team to Super Bowl XXXIV did not assist his team in winning Super Bowl XXXIV. The Titans lost when Wide Receiver Dirk Dyson –- frustrated at not receiving the signal sent out from his teammate’s contract -– was tackled at the 1-yard line to end the game.

Did you know?
Yancey Thigpen's career was not one-dimensional. As his Wiki page mentions: He also rushed for four yards.