One of the things that make collecting football memorabilia what it is, is the connection with players and times past. Hour long discussions and friendships have been made and ended over topics in comparing players from different eras. Part of the magic behind this is the mastery of information contained in any number of sources. If you are a football fan and collector then you are well acquainted with the Street and Smith Annual Football Guides…

Like most things in American society, they have changed over the years. Print media by and large reflects our particular interests and likes. Football fans have always been numbers guys, maybe not to the same degree as baseball fans, but they follow their teams and players just as closely. Each fall brings the hopes that draft choices and acquired veterans and cast offs will take your team to the title game or at least a respectable showing in the conference or against a division rival. All this has been at the core of what Street and Smith has brought football fans over the years.

If you are a collector and not just a fan, then you have probably come to find these as invaluable references for a number of reasons.

-They feature team rosters with player uniform numbers.

-They are photo heavy with the majority of the images coming from the previous season. This makes tracking style changes a bit easier to do.

– They list player heights and weights making it possible to roughly gauge appropriate sizes.

– They feature advertising of player model jerseys that can offer you insights as to what to be on the look out for retail items that may have made their way into the hobby as “gamers.”

– They are collectable in their own right because of player covers. So much so that there are now some 15 different regional covers available.

Given all this, I thought it might be interesting to look at these over the past 40 years taking a slice from each decade: 1966-1976-1986-1996-2006.

What I found was that the magazine has kept pace with society as a whole in terms of information and marketing. The focus has shifted in the past 40 years from the playing of the game to the games players play at times. The other thing that becomes readily apparent are the perceived interest of the readership. Back in 1966 you could still find advertising devoted to how to keep “sand from getting kicked in your face at the beach” to career opportunities as a Clerk Typist or those especially identified as Careers for Women:

Interior Decorator
Dental Assistant
Real Estate

The sport has added teams and rules and the players are bigger and make more money. However at the end of the day you still only get to put eleven men on the field at a time and get four chances to move the ball 10 yards. Following a sport or a team and collecting is about a balance between old and new; changes and staples. Publications like Street and Smith Football Annuals go a long way in facilitating all of this.

I must admit that I have not built my collection of these over the years as many of the old time football guys have. Mine has been done in the past year, largely through E-Bay and picking up copies and gap fillers at shows. If you are looking to add them as references only and are not overly concerned with condition, there are many bargains still to be had. The manner in which I built my library of these involved a two tier approach. I decided I would to buy a large grouping and then for the years I missed.

For Phase I of this operation, my E-Bay searches included:

Football Magazine Collection
Football Magazine Lot
Group of Football Magazines
Street and Smith Collection
Street & Smith Pro Lot
Old Football Magazines

With these basic searches, I also played with combinations including the words vintage. One thing you will find is that searches with “Football” will also produce a number of soccer hits (there should be a law against this), but thankfully E-Bay has a function that permits you to exclude words and phrases.

For Phase II, single copies can be found much the same way doing specific year searches. I did find, much to my surprise that Kit Young’s Cards has any number of issues available in lesser condition and priced very reasonably.

I have not done this for the other sports to the same degree as of yet because my baseball holdings are pretty solid. I do plan to do much the same thing for Basketball in the coming months as MEARS has budgeted some $10,000.00 for reference materials over the next fiscal year. While things like this obviously cut down on the amount of money we pocket as individuals, it does continue to widen the gap on a daily basis between what we do and how we do it as compared to others in the same field.

If you are looking to create the same sort of advantage for yourself with respect to other collectors in being able to make your own informed purchase decision, consider investing a couple hundred dollars in stringing together a solid run of Street and Smith Football Annuals. It will be money well spent from a collecting standpoint as well as offering you a chance to trace and follow the changes of the game and American Society as seen through the filter of a football fan.


LTC MEARS Auth, LLC can be reached for comments or questions about this article by contacting him at or by writing him at:

14218 Roland Court
Woodbridge, VA 22193