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Flashback Product of the Week: 1991 Pennsylvania High School Big 33

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Due to a decline in donations and an increasing amount of debt, the Big 33 Scholarship Foundation has decided to close it’s doors after sixty years.  For now, the annual football game it use to sponsor will be under the supervision of the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association.

The Big 33 Football Classic began in 1957.  Its often been referred to as the Super Bowl of High School Football.  Over the last six decades the best high school players from Pennsylvania have taken on Ohio, Maryland, and Texas.  In the early years Pennsylvania would just play itself splitting up between east and west or blue and gray.  Between 1957 and 1960 Pennsylvania played against collected talent from around the nation.  Lots of famous football stars have played in the Big 33 game – Herb Adderley, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly.  Those are just a few.

Starting in 1991, they began to make team sets.  The Pennsylvania set contains (36) black and white cards.  Key cards include Ray Zellars, Curtis Martin, and Marvin Harrison.  All of these predate their NFL rookies.  It’s 1991 Maryland counterpart doesn’t really have any major cards worth talking about.  Any Big 33 card can make an interesting addition to your collection.  For some collectors, these can be the Holy Grail.  Later on, some sets included autographs.

Its too bad they didn’t make Big 33 cards in the beginning.  As of right now, only three Hall of Famers have Big 33 cards – Marvin Harrison, Curtis Martin, and Orlando Pace.

During my senior year in high school, I received a Big 33 Academic Scholarship.  That included a trip to the 2004 Big 33 game in Hershey, PA.  A couple of players from that game made it to the NFL – Chad Henne, Brian Hoyer, Darrelle Revis, and Ted Ginn Jr.

At one time the Big 33 Football Classic was a large attraction.  According to some past players, the talent just isn’t participating anymore.  Guys don’t want to get hurt and/or they’ve already committed to playing for a college.


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