30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly #3: 1991 Pro Line Portraits Football

Forgive me collectors... for I have sinned. Back in 1991... I collected 1991 Pro Line Portraits football. But I learned my lesson and dumped all of them when I sold off the bulk of my collection years ago.

Then... last year... I fell off the wagon and purchased 15 to 20 packs of this stuff at a garage sale near my house. Thankfully... I learned my lesson and haven't gone back. But yesterday... I strolled across the evidence from that regretful cardboard bender.

I've decided to share my story... so you can learn from my mistake.

I've chosen to use my The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly format, since there are a couple of things that I liked about this product. However... a lot of it was bad... real bad. And it's hard not to cover this product without using the word "ugly". So let's get started...

The Good

Two Cool Base Cards

After sifting through a couple hundred cards... I pulled out these two former politician cards: Steve Largent & Jack Kemp. These are the only two base cards that I thought looked decent. Obviously... I'm a little biased when it comes to Largent, since he's my favorite player. But I actually like this photo of him. It sort of reminds me of an 80's Nike poster or something.

The Jack Kemp card is another story. I like it because when this card was produced, Mr. Kemp had just finished his presidential bid three years earlier. So the photo of him holding a Bills helmet in front of the Lincoln Memorial is simply awesome.


Another cool thing about 1991 Pro Line Portraits football was the randomly inserted autographs. It's one of the first products (along with Upper Deck & Star Pics) to feature on-card autographs inserted into football packs (Star Pics inserted them into factory sets). It was the sole reason I busted so much of this stuff in the early 90's.

I'm not 100% certain, but I think this product could be searched... since I never pulled one myself... and I busted a ton of this product... more than I care to remember.

The Bad


Unfortunately... as you already have noticed... most of the players signed their cards on the back. And if you do find cards with autographs on the front, double check to see if they have the embossed stamp of authenticity in one of the corners. I'm certain that these autographs would be a lot more popular had they all featured autographs on the front. Oh well... I guess card companies learn from their mistakes too.

While we're on the topic of card backs... this was another thing I didn't like about these cards. I'm a stat guy and these cards have no stats. Instead... the card back featured a bunch of words that I didn't care to read. Maybe that's why I like teaching math more than language arts.

Topless Players

Was this product produced for women? I'm not sure what Pro Line was thinking... but it seemed like 25% of the cards featured half naked men. It's cool if you're into guys with muscles... but it's not my cup of tea.


At first I was just speechless. I couldn't come up with a comment for this Mel Blount card. Why is a Steeler dressing up as a cowboy? Is there a card of Tony Dorsett working in a steel mill? After thinking about it for awhile now... the only thing I have to say is... it's bad.

I understand the whole "portraits" concept... I just think that it's a bad idea.

The Ugly

Zubaz Zebra Pants

Umm... I wore a lot of embarrassing clothing growing up: Members Only jackets, parachute pants, Z Cavariccis, fluorescent colored shirts & jackets, and even a bolo tie or two. But thankfully... I somehow avoided this nightmare.

What's the worst part about this fashion disaster? Umm... it's captured on cardboard. I wonder what the players think everytime the receive these cards in the mail for TTM requests. Do the get rid of the evidence? Giggle? Cry?

Much like the cards with half naked guys... these zebra pants wearing players pop up about 25% of the time in this set.

Finally... we come to the cards featuring some of the player's wives:

NFL Spirit Cards

I wasn't sure where to categorize this subset/insert set. So I'm looking for your assistance.

Are they "good", since they feature women? I remember thinking to myself... damn Bernie Kosar's wife is hot. And during the 80's... I had a secret crush on Clair Huxtable.

Are they "bad"? I mean... c'mon...they're wasting cardboard on player's wives... instead of topless players... just kidding.

Or are they "ugly"? The jacket that Jennifer Montana, Michelle Oates, and Stacey O'Brien are wearing is (IMHO) plain hideous.

So there you have it... today's question of the day:

What do you think of the player's wives insert set?
Good, Bad, or Ugly?

Thank you for helping me cope with my addiction to 1991 Pro Line Portraits football cards. Hopefully, I don't pick up a pack of these ever again. But if I do... I sure hope there's an autograph in it.

Happy Saturday everyone... Sayonara!


  1. The topless players pics are horrid, but the zuba pants are awesome!!!

  2. Hoopography - If you're looking to pick some up... they still sell these:


    Have fun shopping buddy!

  3. great review. I have a ton of these cards (no autos unfortunately). I agree auto on front is best but it was kind of new in 91. If you are going to make subsets of dudes in "all kinds of get up" then a few good looking women is good.

  4. Anonymous - Thanks... I get that they were new... but baseball players and other athletes had been signing cards for years... and usually they signed the front. I appreciate the feedback on the "ladies" as well.

  5. I am actually short 3 autographs to finish my 1991 Proline Set. and it has been a journey trying to find them, there are books that say certain cards do not exist and i have them and some say they are out there and i have yet to see them. I actually have what i have in my collection on display on youtube, screen name jpc61570 if anyone cares to check them out. For the 1992 card set i am searching for the Al Davis Autograph. but 20+ years later and a few thousand dollars spent, I am close. I have never seen a complter set of Autographs listed anywhere, or shown.

    1. Hey King Joe... I'm actually subscribed to you channel and love your vids. I'm pretty sure I've seen the video you're referring to... but I'll watch it again. Best of luck on completing your set.

  6. I have a 1991 Proline Portraits card of Lawrence Taylor. It is autographed on the back. There is no card number on the back and the picture of Lawrence Taylor on the front has the top half with what appears to be a pink color. I got it directly from a pack of cards in 1991 in FLORIDA.
    Is this an error card?

    1. Wow. That sounds like a cool card. Congratulations on pulling an LT autograph from a pack! As for your question... I honestly don't know. Sounds like it could be a printing error.