September 10, 2016
Anyone who currently follows me on Twitter has probably seen that I collect plenty of card types, such as vintage football and Pittsburgh sports teams. Odds are, you’ve also seen some cards of Daryl Richardson that I own. I own far more than most people would realize though, 130 of the 197 individual cards made of him. Most of what I’m still missing include cards numbered to 5 or less. However, I wasn’t always this dedicated to collecting a single player. Mr. Richardson is the first, and only, single player collection I have. I’ve been asked by multiple people over the years why I collect his cards. I feel it’s time to share the reason to a larger audience.
Back in November of 2011, as a freshman in high school, I suffered a severe head injury. I was unable to go back to school full-time, and eventually had to start Cyber School instead. I had to quit the football team, which was a very big deal to me. I was dealing with many personal issues, along with lasting side effects from the injury. Constant pain and memory issues led me onto a road of self-loathing and self-pity. I slipped into a depression that I couldn’t quite escape. Every day was a struggle to exist like a semi-functional normal person. I began to start collecting football cards again at this time, as a way to still feel close to the game. My mom would buy me a blaster box each time we went to physical therapy, in an attempt to lift my spirits. It worked, but it was only once or twice per week that I had that excitement.
Fast forward to 2013, right around September. One day I was feeling depressed, so I began scrolling through my Twitter feed. I enjoyed seeing all the cards people were posting, and the happiness people felt about their cards. As I was scrolling, I came across a Through The Mail (TTM) autograph post. I was not familiar with TTM at the time, it was a foreign practice to me. When I looked at the post, I saw someone had sent Daryl Richardson a few cards to sign, and he had sent them back within a week. I decided to click on his Twitter (@DRICH_26) out of curiosity, and saw he interacted with fans all the time! I decided to hit the follow button, and dig through my cards. I found only one, a 2013 Topps Football base card. I snapped a picture and sent a tweet asking Mr. Richardson if he’d sign it. Within an hour, he sent me a direct message with the address I should send it. I was floored and ecstatic! I sent a self-addressed envelope, with postage paid, inside of a mailer so all that needed to be done to ship back to me was sealing the envelope. In less than a week, I received a package back with my card, signed, and a note thanking me for the support. After that, I was a fan.
I began trying to round up any Daryl Richardson cards I could, checking my local card shop and any friends who collected. At the same time, Daryl and I started chatting from time to time, about his playing and overall life in general. This helped fuel my desire to track down his cards, because I truly appreciated his kindness. I continued adding cards, until I decided to declare it a full on collection. That is when the real fun started. My eBay saved searches were loaded, and my watch list was constantly full. I had friends on Twitter who supplied me with plenty of his cards. I built my first parallel rainbow, 2013 Panini Prizm, for my newfound collection. It became a very relaxing endeavor, and a great way to fight off depression. Soon, the amount of DRich cards I owned grew to an unbelievable amount. Couple 1/1s, MANY rookies, and every parallel I could unearth from the depths of online shopping. My collecting goal of owning every individual card of his in existence led others to chip in as well! I even had someone send me a DRich signed pylon that they found on eBay!
I’ve loved every moment of my player collecting, including all the hunting involved. My two favorite memories, however, are beyond cool to me. Right around Christmas 2015, if I’m not mistaken, I got a package in the mail that I was not aware was on its way. Sure enough, the name on the package is none other than Daryl Richardson! I ran inside to open it, and found a signed Play 60 card I had never seen (part of an event the Rams had), a New York Jets coin with his jersey number and his last name, and a signed Jets photo, inscribed “Thanks for all the support man!” It meant a lot to me that he would take time out of his day to show appreciation to a fan. How can you not like an athlete who does stuff like that?
The other fantastic moment in this journey happened recently. For years, I have tweeted my favorite team, The Pittsburgh Steelers, in hopes that they would add Daryl to the team. Obviously, my tweets weren’t going to do anything, but I was still hoping he’d make his way there one day. Sure enough, Daryl Richardson is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers! It was a fabulous feeling that I cannot begin to describe to have my favorite player signed by my favorite team.
It has been one heck of a grind to build my collection, and I hope it continues to be. I appreciate all the support/help people have given me in my effort to collect DRich cards. Thank you to those of you who have assisted, I couldn’t have made it this far along without you. I hope any of you who have wondered why I collect DRich now have an understanding. I wish everyone luck in finding a similar collecting goal, and hope the hobby gives you all as much joy as it has given me.