Recently a lot came up on ebay that perfectly illustrates one of the greatest things (in my opinion) about CFL collecting. If you spend time looking for CFL material you will, on a regular basis, come across rare, obscure, curious and quirky material that has yet to be catalogued, despite the best efforts of people like myself and those ardent collectors across the country who spend time sharing their collection information and images with me.
While it should come as no surprise that previously uncatalogued vintage material will surface from time to time, it can and does also happen with material that was issued at the absolute peak of market media hype during the overheated sports card boom of the early nineties. Which brings us to Rocket Ismail, the subject of a great deal of that hype when the Bruce McNall, Wayne Gretzky and John Candy owned Toronto Argonauts signed him out from under the nose of the NFL, the league that basically invented hype.
Ismail's career was short in the CFL but notable as he helped the Argonauts capture the 1991 CFL Grey Cup and was the subject of a controversial incident in 1992 when he tried to stomp on an opponents head during a game. He was also a spokesman for various products including Pepsi as the screen grab from his Pepsi commercial above shows. In the commercial his blinding speed rattles the components of a city street as he streaks by (including dislodging a coke vending machine) and he stops and grabs a Pepsi from their vending machine and informs the consumer that Pepsi is "Rocket Fuel".
The Pepsi / Rocket Fuel sponsorship was also evident on a series of plastic cups available at Toronto area Subway restaurants featuring Ismail. The cups were issued in 1992 and he is shown in his Argonaut uniform but without the helmet logo as the CFL was apparently not one of the licensee's for this issue. The rear of the cups include facts and statistics about Ismail and two of the three known cups mention his CFL accomplishments as well.
I don't have a complete set of decent images for the items but the other two known cups are partially shown below.
It would seem likely that some sort of other advertising material would have accompanied this promotion, either in store posters or perhaps coupons or menu flyers with Ismail's name and image on them, but so far these have not surfaced. I was not aware of the cups when Volume 2 of Collecting Canadian Football was collated so they were not listed. When regional CFL related material is produced promoting local stars (even one as prominent as Ismail), it is very difficult to discover the issue even a short while after it appeared, unless some enterprising collector in that market makes a point of saving the items and associated information, or somebody throws it up on ebay at some point.
But then that is why all of these undiscovered items exist and are periodically uncovered to help keep the hobby of CFL collecting constantly fun, challenging and rewarding.