Friday, September 23, 2016

1956 Topps J.C. Caroline

It's week 3 of the NFL season and I am just getting around to some more Cards That Never Were for the Rookies of the Year. One of the reasons is that there were several Rookie of the Year Awards. The one that I had been using for reference was the UPI award. The UPI was a press award given out from 1955-1996. 

Although there was much overlap, The Sporting News also handed out annual awards vote upon by NFL players, coaches and executives. The Sporting News began awards in 1955 as well and are still doing it now. 

But it only gets muddier from there. The Newspaper Enterprise Association got into the act in 1964. They continued issuing awards through 1996 and from 1971-1976 they issued two awards. one oa AFC one for NFC, except for the 1974 season. OK got that? Because we're not done yet.

In 1967 the Associated Press got into the game. They issued separate awards for the offensive and defensive Rookies of the Year. They are still issuing that award. In 1969 Pro Football Weekly played the same game, awarding offensive and defensive ROY trophies. The latest ROY is awarded by Pepsi. This began in 2002 and is voted online only by fans at 

I started making these cards quite a while back, in April of 2014, I made a 1957 Rookie Card That Never Was for the great Jim Brown
 I noted that the 1955 and 1956 Rookie of the Year winners were given cards by Bowman in 1955 and Topps in 1956, their rookie seasons. However that is not strictly the case. In 1955 Alan Ameche of the Baltimore Colts was the winner of both the UPI and TSN award and he had a card in the 1955 Bowman set.
In 1956 the UPI award was given to another Colts player, Lenny Moore.  Moore had a card in Topps 1956 set.  But The Sporting News awarded the Rookie of the Year did not have a card in 1956. The Bears defensive back / offensive halfback, J.C. Caroline was primarily a defensive back but was used by the Bears as a halfback and kick returner as well through the 1958 season. After that he was used exclusively on defense. 

J.C. Caroline played 2 years at the University of Illinois breaking Red Grange's rushing record before being ruled academically ineligible. He the played in the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts but was placed on waivers the picked up by the Montreal Alouettes. J.C. and the Alouettes beat his former team in the semi finals to advance to the Grey Cup. Montreal lost to the Edmonton Eskimos. The following year J.C. got a degree in Phys Ed from Florida A&M and was drafted by the Bears. In his rookie year with the Bears he picked off 6 passes and ran 2 back for touchdowns. He was the Sporting News Rookie of the Year which meant that the honor was bestowed by his fellow players and coaches.

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