December 19, 2020:
1989 Pro Set #334 Niko Noga
Well, we made it to the point in December when we start playing Saturday NFL games. Allow me a moment to connect the card above to the late-'80s toy phenomenon known as Micro Machines.
I had a friend around the time this set was released who had a pretty sizable Micro Machines collection. I myself was never much into them; I probably only had one four-pack of Indy cars and that was more than enough. But this kid had all kinds of stuff, including a slew of those little playsets that were interconnectable. If I remember correctly, these were little squares about 6 inches on each side, and each one was a different part of a community. You could connect the car wash to the dump to the parking garage and so on. My friend must have had at least twenty of these, all assembled together to make an entire city. When I would go to his house, we would play pretty much nothing but sports, but those things were always there in his bedroom.
Anyway, one day at school he starts talking about something, and somehow brings up that there's a little spider making his home in the Micro Machines village. Probably a daddy longlegs, I'm guessing. But here's the kicker: He named the spider. Better than that, he named it Niko. After Niko Noga. I don't know what made him do this, but it was likely connected to collecting cards and seeing this guy with the funny name. I do know that Noga also had a sticker in the 1989 Panini album, which a bunch of the guys in my class were also collecting.
So, we salute you, Niko Noka, wherever you are. I hope you were able to become an underwater welder after your football career was over, like it says you wanted to do on the back of this card. If not, maybe you could try to go for a run in the WWE as part of a Roman Reigns storyline.