Skip to main content
You are reading your 2 Of 4 free premium articles

The guest on Episode 335 of the "Sports Illustrated Media Podcast" hosted by Jimmy Traina is Darren Rovell, the senior executive producer for the Action Network. The main focus of the episode is the explosion in the trading cards business. From why the boom happened, whether it will last to the process of getting cards graded and selling them for profit, Rovell goes in-depth on explaining many of the aspects of the current trading card craze. He also explains that people are buying and selling more than cards; game tickets, VCR tapes and checks are also in high demand. In addition to discussing the trading card world, Rovell and Traina also talk about the Super Bowl streaker who claims he won $375,000 on a $50,000 bet and the possibility of Twitter adding a pay service.

The following transcript is an excerpt from The SI Media Podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere or on

Jimmy Traina: Was there something specific that caused this current [card collecting] boom to happen? I know me, personally, I started to notice it was getting crazy from following former MLB pitcher, Yankee, Phil Hughes, who's been big in this is for a long time … I didn't get it. And then more and more people started to do it, I got friends doing it now, so tell me why now.

Darren Rovell: It's very COVID specific…when we went into COVID, people started cleaning their houses. Parents started cleaning their houses, so there were finds, people were finding things—that's one. Two, it's Groundhog Day every single day. Every day, you have to get the dopamine and the adrenaline going, you want to go back to your past, you want to go back to a time when you were happy. So we are being overly nostalgic, right? That's why it's not only cards, but people, including me, have gone into collecting graded video games because I smile when I see Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!.

Jimmy Traina: Wait, I just want to be clear, so when you say "collecting video games," you mean like the actual Nintendo cartridge?

Darren Rovell: I'm collecting the box, the cartridge, the manual, and it goes into a plexiglass case and it's graded just like cards. So I have the No. 1 sealed NBA Jam in the world that was never opened. It's a 9.8 out of 10 and it is an A++ seal, which is the quality of the seal. 

Jimmy Traina: I thought I'd come away from this conversation like maybe being inspired to go through my stuff, but this just all sounds like a huge pain in the ass to me. I don't know, maybe it's just me. 

Darren Rovell: Whoever had a video game that they thought was going to be collectible? We were blowing into the cartridges, it's crazy.

Jimmy Traina: You know, I regret throwing out so much crap all over the years.

Darren Rovell: You'd rather have played Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! 50 times than saved it? A Mike Tyson Punch Out!! sealed, is in the $100,000 range.

Jimmy Traina: What are they grading? Whether the cartridge is damaged? What is graded on a video game?

Darren Rovell: You have a nice little package—the company is called WadaGames, it grades it—so Mike Tyson is 8.0 out of 10 and on the back, it then tells you what it got for the cartridge, what it got for the manual, what it got for the box, and it stands up on your desk and people think it's pretty cool.

Jimmy Traina: O.K., so because I'm old, let me ask you this ...

Darren Rovell: Well, I'm older. 

Jimmy Traina: Is the old stuff worth anything or is it new stuff?

Darren Rovell: The old stuff is worth plenty.

Jimmy Traina: What about this? *Jimmy holds up an old baseball card of Rickey Henderson*

Darren Rovell: That's the 1980 Rickey Henderson. I would get that graded if I were you. In a tin, the 1980 Rickey Henderson Topps Rookie card sold for $180,000 this week.

Listen to The Sports Illustrated Media Podcast
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts | iHeart

Find recent episodes on