When Notre Dame star Raghib "Rocket" Ismail signed with the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts last weekend, it sent National Football League teams scrambling. The man who was generally thought to be one of the top draft picks had thrown the first round a little out of whack.
For the card companies planning for the upcoming season, it was somewhat less upsetting.
Pro Set was ready with a card of Russell Maryland, the top pick from the University of Miami, as a Dallas Cowboys rookie.
Pro Set also had Ismail with the Cowboys, New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons; San Diego State quarterback Dan McGwire with the Patriots; Nebraska linebacker Mike Croel with the Patriots; Notre Dame cornerback Todd Lyght with the Falcons; and Iowa running back Nick Bell with the San Francisco 49ers.
As the official NFL card, Pro Set was required to have a card of the No. 1 draft pick before last Sunday's draft. The cards were educated guesses.
However, according to Maureen Short of Pro Set, there will be a Ismail card in Pro Set's NFL Series I. It will be No. 36, honoring him as the Walter Camp Player of the Year. All other major college football award winners will be on cards, too.
Maryland gets a card as the Outland Trophy winner and will be on a bonus card as the top draft choice. Other Pro Set bonus cards depict Walter Payton, Red Grange and the Super Bowl XXV card that was given to all who attended the game in Tampa, Fla., in January.
Ismail, who was shown prominently in Score's preview material, will be on a card, says Julie Haddon.
"He's still a draft pick [fourth round by the Los Angeles Raiders] and one of the best prospects to come out of the draft," she says. "He's depicted in a Notre Dame uniform in our set, so we don't have to worry about him in another uniform." Score's pro rookies were labeled all along as top pro prospects, says Haddon, so Ismail's choice of the CFL was not a problem.
However, Ismail will not be in Fleer's set, although he was originally listed as card No. 423 as part of the rookie subset.
Richard Holsten of Fleer says that because plans were to depict the rookies in college uniforms with their NFL affiliations, Ismail's playing in the CFL ruled him out. The cards are not yet produced, but Maryland, who wasn't on Fleer's eight-player rookie list, won't replace Ismail.
Ismail wasn't scheduled to be in Action Packed's new series, which will be shipped to dealers in June, according to Susan Pickett. Had he been a high NFL draft pick, he might have been included in the rookie series, which will be released at the end of the summer. But because Action Packed cards are of NFL players, there won't be an Ismail card.
Today, baseball card show, Security Holiday Inn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
Sunday, baseball card show, Martin's Ballroom Westminster, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 922-8366.
Sunday, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.