Collecting an Unknown Player - My Tony Graziani PC


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I think most sports fans come across a player during their lives that stands out as special...even if they don't really find great success. For whatever reason, you become a fan of that athlete...often because they were in the right place at the right time. For me, former quarterback Tony Graziani is that person. Let me explain that story.

I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, the home of the University of Oregon and their Oregon Ducks. Now, as a child...the Ducks weren't what they are today. In 1993, I was 8 years old and my dad took me to my very first Ducks game...we went to the annual rivalry game the "Civil War" and watched Oregon loose. The Ducks lost 12-15 capping a 5-6 season. On that day, I had never heard of Tony Graziani nor did he stand out. He was the redshirt freshman backup QB to junior starter Danny O'Neil. Even though Oregon lost and it was an ugly game...I was already a budding Oregon fan. My first experience at Autzen cemented my love for the Ducks and going into 1994 I was a die hard fan (as much as a 9 year old could be).

In 1994, Oregon was expected to finish 9th in the Pac-10...and it didn't start out well. The Ducks played 4 non-conference games (they had a 12 game schedule due to their road game against Hawaii) to start the season...and they had started 2-2. To make matters worse...senior QB Danny O'Neil had an injured hand and was unable to play in the conference opener. Oregon opened it's conference schedule on the road against Pac-10 favorite this time, Oregon hadn't beaten USC in the Coliseum in 29 years! Sophomore backup QB Tony Graziani made his first career start that day. Watching the game on TV...I witnessed this big, mobile southpaw QB lead Oregon to a shocking 22-7 victory over the Trojans. That was the turning point in the 1994 season. Graziani would only play sparingly the rest of the season...but Oregon would go 7-1 in conference (9-3 overall) and end up playing in the Rose Bowl.

As a junior, Graziani took over as the starter in 1995. The defending Pac-10 champs came into the season with huge expectations. He led Oregon to a 9-2 record (8-2 as a starter...missing 1 game due to injury) while commanding an offense that led the conference in passing yards and total offense. Although they did not win the Pac-10, they would earn a bid to the Cotton Bowl Classic on New Years Day.

He would return for his senior season in 1996...again with high expectations. Oregon opened the season on the road against Fresno State...which was a home coming for Graziani and he had made it known in the press that playing well in this game was a HUGE deal for him. In a classic, Oregon would edge Fresno State 30-27 in college football's very first overtime game. Disaster struck the next week when Graziani injured his knee against Nevada. He would miss several weeks but eventually return to finish out the season...but the season was lost. Oregon would miss a bowl game.

Originally expected to be a 4-5 round pick, Graziani fell in the draft following his injury and was selected 204th overall in the 7th round by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1997 NFL draft. He would play for the Falcons from 1997-99 seeing occasional action as a backup. He was on the 1998 Falcons team that lost Super Bowl XXXIII to the Broncos but did not play in that game. He was released by Atlanta after 1999 and spent 2000 in the Cleveland Browns organization, he was sent to NFL Europe and playing that year for the Barcelona Dragons.

He would then sign with the AFL's Los Angeles Avengers prior to 2001. He became the starter for LA in 2002 and continued in that role through 2004. He found success in the Arena Football League and when he signed with the Philadelphia Soul prior to 2005 he became the league's highest paid player. He would play for the Soul from 2005-08 before his career came to an end. While playing in the AFL, he would throw for nearly 500 touchdowns.

I followed him throughout his career and when I returned to collecting cards around 2010...I decided I should see if he had any. As it turned out, Graziani had 49 cards (48 according to Beckett but they have omitted a parallel for some reason). I made it my goal to try and track down every issue. At this point, I am only missing 5 cards (including his sole 1/1). I have also picked up a couple "unlisted" cards.

I thought I would share my collection with my friends here.

1995 Oregon Smokey #4

1996 Oregon Smokey #2

I'll post the rest of the collection later.


NASCAR products are back baby!!!!! oh yeah!
Good to see someone going after a "no name". Too many collectors go after the stars and overlook their " favorite"!


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Here are a few more from this collection. These are all the cards I have from him which came out in 1997 and 1998. He only had cards issued by Ultra in 1997 and I have the base RC as well as both parallels.

In 1998, only Pacific and it's Paramount brand had issues for Graziani. Pacific had a base and two parallels (of which I am missing the "easier" Red parallel) and Paramount had a base and 4 parallels (of which I have all issues).

I also have a special card in this group. I have a 1998 Pacific base card which was given out at the National Sports Collector's Convention that year. It has a special 1/1 sticker. Although not a "real" pack issued does add a neat 1/1 piece for this collection.

1997 Ultra RC #314

1997 Ultra Gold Medallion #G314

1997 Ultra Platinum Medallion #P314 (Parallel SP, reportedly less than 150 produced)

1998 Pacific #23

1998 Pacific Platinum Blue #23 (toughest Pacific parallel)

1998 Pacific #23 National Collector’s Convention 1/1

1998 Paramount #12

1998 Paramount Copper #12

1998 Paramount Red #12

1998 Paramount Silver #12

1998 Paramount Platinum Blue #12 (toughest Paramount Parallel)


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Here are more from this collection. This post covers all his cards issued in 1999 and 2000...which are the remaining cards of his NFL (and NFL Europe) career.

In 1999, the only set he was featured in was Upper Deck Encore. There is a base issue as well as two parallels. One parallel is the F/X Gold which is his only true 1/1 and I do not have this card (it is my #1 wanted card).

He had 17 total cards issued in 2000...coming from 5 different products. This also includes 6 autographed cards (of which all are in my collection). The only card from 2000 that I am missing is the 2000 Topps MVP Promotion #349.

Once again, this portion of my collection contains a special National Sports Collector's Convention 1/1 card which is not a "true" pack issued card.

1999 Upper Deck Encore

1999 Upper Deck Encore F/X (90/100)


2000 Fleer Tradition #291


2000 Fleer Tradition Glossy #291


2000 Fleer Tradition Glossy #291 National Collector’s Convention 1/1


2000 Fleer Tradition Autographics #62


2000 Fleer Tradition Autographics Silver #62 (238/250)

2000 Fleer Tradition Autographics Gold #62 (2/50)


2000 Leaf Rookies and Stars #270 (2141/3000)

2000 Leaf Rookies and Stars Longevity #270 (1/30)

2000 Leaf Rookies and Stars Autographics #270 (66/200) – first 200 cards signed


2000 Playoff Contenders #160


2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket #160 (19/100)

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2000 Quantum Leaf #16

2000 Quantum Leaf Infinity Green #16 (10/100)

2000 Quantum Infinity Red Leaf #16 (29/50)

2000 Quantum Leaf Infinity Purple #16 (17/25)

2000 Topps #349

2000 Topps Collection #349

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Bench Warmer
I'm from Philadelphia and remember when Graziani was signed to the Soul in a landmark deal around 2004-2005. Although I'm not a big Arena Football guy, I did watch several games during the Graziani era and recall him being a big "fan favorite." Not to mention – he is a World Champion – as he was on the roster when the Soul won Arena Bowl XXII in July 2008.


Bench Warmer
Thanks for sharing this. Im not familiar with Graziani, but it seems he is a star there in Oregon. AFL really produces good and talented players, not surprisingly, when it comes to international venue, it did really win.