With its 1951 set, Bowman issued a football set that didn't look exactly like the baseball set it had issued earlier in the year. Though the cards themselves were made larger to match the size the baseball cards had, the design actually looked like it was an improvement upon what the earlier set featured.
Card fronts showed a painted player picture, which in many cases was the exact same picture used in the 1950 set. In a lower corner, the player's name was printed inside a white box that had a black line at the top and bottom. Above the name was a team logo. A white border surrounded the card. The backs, on the other hand, were similar to the baseball set's format. Most of the backs featured a lengthy biographical write-up, with the player's vital stats above and the card number and copyright line below it. Backs are printed in black, except for the player's name and a large FOOTBALL written across the bottom.
There were 144 cards in the set, which was broken into four printing sheets of 36 cards each. Each series was broken down so teammates were together; the Cleveland Browns were the first cards in each series, followed by the Los Angeles Rams. It's probably little coincidence that those were the two teams who had lined up in the NFL championship game the previous fall; however, the rest of the set doesn't seem to break down based on the teams' 1950 records beyond those two teams.
Tom Landry, Emlen Tunnell, Norm Van Brocklin and Ernie Stautner are among the significant rookies found in the set. One player who is occasionally confused is William Walsh, shown on Card #23 as a member of the Steelers. He's a different person than the future Hall of Fame coach. There are no scarce high-numbered series or variations in the set.
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