The three-time Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils play in Newark - but they're not the only pro sports team you'll find in the Garden State. The "New York" Giants and Jets share MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford - and since the New York post will be crowded enough, I'm including them here.
The NBA's Nets played 35 seasons in New Jersey before moving to Brooklyn.
New Jersey native Tate George helped put UConn basketball on the map in 1990; he went to high school in the town where I work. Dwayne Schintzius is probably best known for playing Ivan ("Ivan make basket") in the Whoopi Goldberg movie Eddie. I considered buying a Keith Van Horn jersey once-but only so that I could own a new New Jersey jersey.
Newly-elected Hall of Famer Jason Kidd led the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 (they lost both times.) Of the many holes I found in my basketball card collection this one is inexcusable: I have no Jason Kidd Nets cards. Andso my Nets stars consist of three Vince Carter cards, four Drazen Petrovic cards (also a Hall of Famer) and one Dikembe Mutombo card that cost me approximately $1.33 at the card show.
I have 21 Curtis Martin cards for no particular reason other than his career spanned the apex of my football card collecting years. He's fourth all-time in rushing yardage at the moment; Frank Gore is one good game away from passing Martin.
Four Brett Favre cards is not technically a hole in my collection - but for someone with over 600 different Favre cards, having so few from his season in New Jersey is pathetic. What's more, I never saw Brett the Jet play a home game here.
My father-in-law took me to a Jets-Packers game in 2002; the Jets needed the win to make the playoffs and when I went into the bathroom stall (wearing Packers gear) I could hear drunken Jets fans shout that if they saw a Cheesehead they'd kick his ass. Which is exactly what the Jets did to Favre and the Packers. Just a fun day overall.
Mark Sanchez is generally considered a "bust" despite leading the Jets to two AFC Championship games. How many other QBs can say that? None. How many other QBs have been responsible for a "Butt fumble"? Also none. This Rookies & Stars patch is numbered to 20; it only cost $1.56 on COMC due to "edge wear on top" I've examined it closely three times an I still haven't found any flaws on the card.
The rest of my Jets hits. Boomer Esiason told a story on his radio show about his fellow Rangers fan Nick Mangold shouting at Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff; Ruff turned around to stare down the fan.. and I imagine his reaction went a little something like this:
While we're on the subject of Giants...
John Elway didn't want to go to Baltimore because he hated Frank Kush. Eric Lindros didn't want to go to Quebec because he didn't speak French. Eli Manning didn't want to go to San Diego because...?
Whatever his reasons for dissing San Diego it worked out well for Eli and the G-Men. Manning's two Super Bowl victories over the Patriots punched his ticket to Canton. I don't consider myself a Giants fan but I cheered for them in each of their four Super Bowl appearances.* It takes a three-headed monster like Brady, Belichick and Kraft to make me root for New York to beat Boston.
*Not counting SB XXI because I was too young to remember it. I was in fifth grade when the Giants won SB XXV; my friends came over for a Super Bowl party and one of them hit on my sister. She was 25 at the time.
Some notable Giants base cards. Bart Oates played himself on an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Jason Sehorn was once voted the most overrated player in the NFL. Kerry Collins is the only Giants QB to lose a Super Bowl. Does anyone know a Rodney Hampton collector? Or a Mario Manningham collector? ;-)
The best of the rest, including four of my eleven Tiki Barber cards. Jeremy Shockey was a fan favorite back in the day; my nephew Sam has his jersey. The Rashad Jennings Blue Prizm is numbered to 50..and cost me about 50 cents on COMC.
My in-laws have had Giants season tickets since the new stadium was built (Pop put his name on the waiting list in the '80s); they had Devils season tickets from 1993 to 2004. If I had a room big enough to display all the Devils memorabilia my wife and I have accumulated over the past 25 years it would be the mother of all man caves.
The hardest part of writing this post has been deciding what Devils items to scan and discuss.
Nearly all of the Devils memorabilia in my house belongs to my wife; I bought all of the cards you'll see in this post. Someone on Sports Card Forum offered me a lot of money for the Stevens auto- he was building the Stanley Cup Signatures set. I knew I couldn't replace it so I passed.
Upper Deck's The Cup had an auto/jersey insert set called Stanley Cup Titlists, which were numbered to the number of titles the player won. I failed to procure the Jason Arnott 1/1...
...but I made up for it (somewhat) a couple years later.
When Arnott scored his golden goal (on an assist from Patrik Elias) I was passively cheering for the Devils-mostly because I didn't like Dallas. I was also happy the Devs upset Detroit in the 1995 Final and angry that they lost to Colorado in 2001. That said, I wasn't fully invested in the team until 2003.
From 2002-2004 In The Game/Be A Player produced ten-card insert sets of the prior year's Stanley Cup champions. These jersey cards were not serial numbered, but the print run was announced at 40 sets.
I happen to have one of them. It took a few years and at least $200 to complete. Jeff Friesen was the last one I needed. I paid $20.55 for it, ten cents more than I paid for this Ice Scripts auto of legendary goalie Martin Brodeur:
If you want to tell me that Brodeur is not the greatest goalie in NHL history I won't argue. His save percentage could have been better and his wins totals were inflated somewhat from playing behind a great defense and after the shootout was implemented to eliminate ties.
That said Marty's longevity, durability, and consistency are second to none. This Upper Deck Signed Jersey card caught my eye on my way out of the card show; I haggled with the guy and knocked the price down from $70 to $60.
This Black Diamond Brodeur rainbow was completed a few years ago; I'm halfway to finishing the Patrik Elias. Not sure I'm ever going to find the quad black #d/10 though.
I snagged this Taylor Hall patch auto for $21.50 during COMC's Black Friday sale. I added it to my watch list the second I saw it and was very nervous when the price dropped. The Devils have never had a Hart trophy winner as NHL's MVP. I'm hopeful Hall will change that.
Most of my major (and minor) purchases have come from COMC, including this Adam Henrique Signature Patch...
...and this Jaromir Jagr auto. This was a Spring Cleaning purchase in 2015; I paid $37.45 for the redemption card which was fulfilled about a month or two after I bought it.
Here are some cards I didn't buy on COMC.
Zach Parise scored a goal in his first NHL game- which also happened to be Sidney Crosby's first NHL game.That prompted the Devils fans to chant "Parise's better!" My LCS managed to book Parise for an autograph session when he was a rookie; there were so many young women lined up around the store that the owner had to sneak Zach out of the back door.
Patrik Elias recently had his number 26 retired by the Devils. He holds Devils records for points in a season and career. I'd love to see him enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day, but I can't say he's better than still-waiting wingers Keith Tkachuk, Alex Mogilny, and others.
I bought one tin of the Cup for $449 in 2006, just to say I did it. I still have the eBay receipt, the empty tin, and two of the cards - this gold parallel Patty, and the Grant Fuhr Scripted Swatch auto. [The other four cards were: Steve Shutt base, Petteri Nokelainen gold rainbow auto, Andrej Meszaros 1/1 plate..and my autographed patch RC was Ole-Kristian Tollefson. yay.]
There are tons of Devils cards I could add to this post, but I'll leave you with an autographed Voices of the Game card of color commentator and former Devils goalie Chico Resch (If there's a Doc Emrick card I want it)
And a High Profile Fans jersey card of Jersey's own Kevin Smith.
I once visited Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash in Red Bank. My nephew bought a Jason Mewes auto and I asked Walt Flanagan if there were any Kevin Smith autos available. There were not. But they did have Devils Stanley Cup banners (and Joey Lauren Adams' Maple Leafs jersey from Chasing Amy) hanging up in the store.
Favorite Devils player: Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Miles Wood
Favorite Giants player: #2 overall pick Saquon Barkley
Favorite Jets player: #3 overall pick Sam Darnold
Next tour stop: New Orleans
Thanks for reading!