You can probably file these cards under "things that probably aren't nearly as impressive to the rest of the world as they are to me." And I'm completely ok with that. Kordell Stewart was my favorite player before I had a favorite player.
Growing up in the late 90's, there seemed to be few players cooler than Kordell Stewart. Unless, of course, you live in Pittsburgh. The city has the unhealthiest of relationships with its quarterbacks in a way that I think even Philly fans might shake their heads at. The Steelers have been lucky enough to land not only two of the winningest quarterbacks in NFL history, but three players in Stewart, Terry Bradshaw, and Ben Rothlisberger who played the game in a style that was markedly distinguished from their peers. Their mobility and ability to work beyond the traditional confines of the position made them both fun to watch and, more often than not, successful.
But tell that to the yinzers screaming to replace Roethlisberger with Father Time Charlie Batch last year.
But I digress. As a kid, Kordell Stewart (and Barry Sanders) were the kind of players who just seemed unfailingly fun to watch because they played the game the same way your backyard games worked out - a huddled mass of bodies, out of which something inexplicably memorable would appear and just as quickly disappear. He couldn't be limited to one position - Slash could do it all, making exciting, memorable plays happen from anywhere on the field.
Kordell was never a fantastic passer, and he never took the Steelers to the postseason heights that the team and city perhaps anticipated. But damn was he fun to watch. Frustrating, yes. But fun. And as a 9 year old, fun matters a whole lot more than winning...perhaps there's a lesson that my more grown up self has internalized there as well.
Eventually, I gave in to the sports media voices and my dad's uncontrolled monologues delivered to the tv that Stewart just wasn't the quarterback the Steelers needed. At that age, perhaps it was a little too easy to give in to the voices who supposedly knew better, rather than sticking with what flat out looked cool.
Over time, the once red hot Stewart has also cooled in the eyes of the hobby. Again, ever the opportunist, my collection has expanded in recent months to include some great Slash cards. They may have lost some of their hobby luster over the years, but these cards take me back to a point when backyard football after school ruled my days, and my number 10 jersey was among my most cherished possessions.
We all collect for different reasons, and our collections naturally grow in a multitude of directions because of those reasons.
But few things in my collection - Pirates or otherwise - bring me as much nostalgic joy as a new Kordell card. They seem like a simple throwback to something that seems very disconnected from the perpetual motion and commotion of life as a so-called adult. We all take on so many slashes in our own life - teacher/researcher/writer/dinner cooker/fiancee/card addict/blogger/guy with too many slashes in his life - that it feels great to slow down and look back at when the only slashes that really seemed to matter were where a guy lined up on a football field.