The 1888 Goodwin Champions contained the first football card, that of Yale captain Henry Beecher. I looked into this card a little bit at first, then found some things worth digging further on. First, I typed in “Yale” and “Beecher” in a couple of search engines and came up with Edward Beecher, who graduated from Yale in 1822 and was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe – the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Harriet, Edward and their many other siblings were born much earlier, but it seemed likely that the Beecher on this card who played football at Yale was related to the Beecher family of the pre-Civil War era who haled from Connecticut. I found a number of different websites, but the one with the best summary of what I found is linked here. Apparently Beecher Stowe was this Beecher’s great Aunt, as Henry Beecher’s Grandfather was her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, who was probably the second most famous priest from that era.
The 2011 set also had some football players – in this case some true legends of the gridiron. The set has the greatest receiver of all time, the running back I’d argue is the greatest ever, and two of the 3 Hall of Famers from the quarterback class of 1983.