The Shop At Home Network offers graded cards quite often. Tonite there were offering a group of 10 graded cards. One of the cards was said to be a Jerry Rice Rookie Insert from 1986. This caused my ears to perk. Let me tell you why.
I've been collecting Sports Cards (mainly Football and Baseball (well, baseball until the early 90's) for over 16 years. I haven't kept up with the collecting as much since I came to college, but I still buy a few packs, singles, and a price guide or two. The cards are seek out most are those from my childhood. I love older cards, especially football cards from the late 70's to the early 90's (before all the gloss and gimmicks). I also worked in a hobby store (Shinder's for those who are curious) in Minnesota for a few years and I learned even more about sports cards while I was there. I know my stuff pretty well. I'm no expert, but for 98% of the cards out there I can tell you what year they came out, what brand, and an approximate price if the card is from the 80's - 90's.
Suffice to say I know my 1980's football cards very well. That is why the Jerry Rice "rookie" bothered me. The card shown was this one. This is not the card the claimed it was. The card in the picture is a 1987 Topps 1000 Yard Club insert. The cards were inserted one per pack in each pack of 1987 Topps Football cards.
Technically, the card could have been produced in 1986. Often times Topps started production on the next years set early in order to release the card set on time. On the bottom backside of some older Topps cards it will give the year the card was produced in. This does not always match the year of the set. For example: 1988 Topps Football cards sometimes said 1987 in the small print. The card was produced in 1987, but it belongs to the 1988 Topps Football set. Confusing, I know. Suppose you have two identical cards from a 1985 Topps set. They may not be exactly identical. One could say it is from 1984 in the small print, the other could say 1985 in the small print. The cards are still considered duplicates and have the same price value considering everything else is identical. Price Guides list the cards by the year they were released, not printed. It would be foolish to do otherwise since there would have to be two entries for a lot of cards, and there would be no quick way to look up the card you wish to price. In the end, Shop At Home lied about the year of the card. The 1986 Topps set contained Jerry Rice's rookie card. 1987 was Jerry's second year in a Topps set.
Another problem was thier calling the card a "rookie". Rookie cards are often valuable for a number of reasons (I'm not gonna go into them here (it's 3:30 AM!). Rookies are generally considered to be the those cards that are included in a professional release (liscened by MLB, NFL, NBA, etc. (most likely from Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, or other well respected brand)) and come out in the same year the player's first professionally released card came out. The cards can be from a factory set (such as an Update or Traded release (mostly sold as a set) or a regular release. They must, however, be part of the base set; this means they may not be inserts, send-away's, parallel versions, or anything besides part of the base set (card producer's have kinda squirmed out of this by limiting production on rookie cards (short-printing them)). The card Shop at Home was offering is an insert. Therefore, it cannot be a rookie.
There are a couple other issues I have with the Jerry Rice card they were including in the deal, but that will have to wait for another day (hint: it involves grading services used and the way the determine the value of the card you are getting).
In summary: Shop At Home are a bunch of sneaky bastards. Be absolutely sure you know exactly what you are getting before you order anything from them. I only really caught this one because I happen to have the card in question, and know my cards well enough to know what set it came from.
*This is a pretty nice card, but it has a lot of bugs. It doesn't work in Linux with a VIA or SiS chipset, and with an Intel chipset there are bus problems (the picture "rolls" or "flips" if you are doing anything remotely graphical while watching TV). To use the card in Linux make sure you have all the proper modules built and as root type modprobe bttv card=10 pll=0 radio=1. You will have to do this everytime you reboot or put it in a file like