The NFL has regularly flirted with trying to convert Australian Rules Football players to American Football punters due the Australian games' strong skills in relation to placement kicking. Throwing the ball isn't allowed in Australian Rules Football and so Australian footballers need to be able to kick a football with the same accuracy to a team mate that an American quarterback needs to be able to throw the ball. The upshot of this is a number of Aussies have made attempts at the unglamorous American punting position, some successfully, some not as much. (Note to non-Australian readers - Australian Rules football is not rugby. Americans somehow get confused between the two. Rugby is a completely different sport altogether with very little kicking skill. It's like getting American football and soccer confused.)
The upshot of this though is that a lot of the Australian NFL players haven't ever had NFL cards made for them - when you have a roster of 53 players to choose from, the special teams unit are well down list of players to be featured in a card set.
I've been toying with the idea of trying to rectify this by making cards for the Aussie NFL players who currently don't have one. This was my first attempt to do so and featured Colin Ridgway, the very first Australian NFL player.
Ridgway was a gifted athlete who represented Australia in the High Jump at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and the 1958 Commonwealth Games, as well as being a reserve grade player for the Carlton Blues in the Victorian Football League (the forerunner to the Australian Football League for the non-Australians who might be reading this.)
He accepted a scholarship to Lamar Tech in the USA. He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 1965 where an attempt was made to convert his Aussie Rules kicking to American punting. The result wasn't successful and he only ended up playing in 3 games for the Cowboys during that 1965 season. It would be another 30 years before Australian punters would start to make the regular transition between the two football codes.
The card design is a replica of the 1966 Philadelphia Gum NFL card design. I figured that since he debuted in 1965, his debut card would show up in the 1966 set. I'm reasonably happy with the result except maybe the skin colour. I've only had black and white photos to work off of so I'm a bit unsure about Ridgway's skin complexion at the time, but I've had him come across as quite tanned rather than a fairer tone. I'll assume that's correct.
|1966 Philadelphia Colin Ridgway custom card front - © 2017 Adam East|
|1966 Philadelphia Colin Ridgway custom card back - ©2017 Adam East|