2011 SP Authentic Football is Live, Could be UD’s Last Hurrah

For the time that I have been a collector in this hobby, I have always loved two sets above all others because of their consistent success despite longevity. The first set is obviously Topps Chrome, and the second was SP Authentic. Both brands have not only delivered year after year, but they have stood the test of time as the products with some of the most loyal followings in the business. When Upper Deck lost their NFL license, I thought that 2010 would be my last year following SP Authentic. Instead, the Patch Auto design for the cards continued to be amazing, and I was sucked in for another year.

After seeing the way the cards look this year, I have to say the allure of the cards is gone. Aside from the fact that it is close to impossible for me to get excited to purchase cards of players that are not in NFL uniforms, the design for the rookie patch autos has dropped to an all-time low. I get the idea that UD was trying to drum up a retro looking feel to the set, but in all reality, I do not think they succeeded at all, especially in the non-photograph part of the card. The borders, fonts and window all look very well below the normal standard that SP Authentic normally presents. I get a feeling as if UD is really feeling the budget squeeze, and the design team isn’t at the same level they once were.

Here are some of the cards posted so far:

2011 SP Authentic Cam Newton Rookie Patch Auto

2011 SP Authentic AJ Green Rookie Patch Auto

2011 SPX Julio Jones Rookie Jumbo Jersey Auto

2011 Authentic Cam Newton Rookie Threads Auto

When considering the product’s hits 2005-2009, it was unlikely that any set at SPA’s price point could compete. 100% on card autographs, amazing and understated designs, and a continued presence in the marketplace all contributed to overwhelming success that I looked forward to each year. I bought cards of every single player I collected, and I probably would continue in 2011 if the cards met the execution from previous years. Upper Deck will claim that the swatch window is bigger, so the cards are better, but this means little to me when the swatches are not game used.

Not everything presents a terrible situation in 2011 SPA, however. I absolutely love the look of the SPX jumbo jersey autographs, as they remind me of cards from years past that have always signaled a premium brand for the product. Not only do the cards look cool, but they play on the nostalgic connections that many collectors have to years of SPX as an Upper Deck staple.

Although the cards look good, I think it is a “sign of the times” that Upper Deck is being forced into this type of distribution plan for one of the products that has been on their calendar for over a decade. They also included the SP Rookie Threads jersey autos into the product as an added value, but it just screams desperation to me that these cards are not existing as their own product.

Overall, I fail to assign relevance to Upper Deck until they are able to re-enter the NFL market, because I cannot identify success with a company that cannot capitalize on the performance of the rookies during the games they play from this point forward. That’s my personal opinion, and from what we have seen with the rollout of this product, others feel the same way.

14 thoughts on “2011 SP Authentic Football is Live, Could be UD’s Last Hurrah

  1. SP Authentic usually looks really good and last year was pretty cool for college only stuff, but this year looks very mediocre. Definitely gonna pass on this stuff, unless it’s going for $60/box or less.

  2. There is no need for this product until it has players in NFL jerseys and is released in September/October.

  3. well, Mr. Gellman considering it is pretty close to a sellout at volumes I promise are similar to the “NFL” licensed counterparts…your mention of us losing relevance is nonesense at best asinine more likely. The card values alone should tell you that. You rave about each and every Topps football product but they all look the same! when our next release comes out and you know what it is..it will blow away anything out there…even your precious 5 Star(blatant UD rip off)

  4. Please elaborate on your comment that the roll out of the product and others agree?? you are clearly so far up Topps patootie you have lost focus and any grasp on a market I thought you so much had a handle on

  5. so putting SP Threads at 1 per case as a cool hit isnt better then making a full blown product the industry doesnt need on the market?

  6. ask you buddies at Topps if we are relevant! I promise you they know we are and some of the things happening that you have no clue about prove it

  7. My customers love 2011 SP Authentic Football. Went through 60 boxes in about 4 hours. Wish I could have bought more direct from Upper Deck. I went to my distributor for more and bought their last 20 boxes. Content was super and that is what sold the boxes.

  8. I don’t need an eBay listing description on the front of my cards. When Rookie Auto Patch is bigger than the players name, that’s a problem. Just go ahead a finish the listing for me: Cam Newton ROOKIE Auto Patch Panthers RC Sick Mojo RARE!

  9. Something I’m getting increasingly frustrated with:

    Why does UD even bother with the base set in SP Authentic? Their base cards are sooooo boringly bland. Busting a box is basically just sorting through garbage to find the 3-4 good cards. The biggest reservation I have on buying a box of this is the junk base cards. At least take a page from sets like Supreme & Limited–number your base, use a 1 pack format…hell, use a 4 pack format if you really want. I just don’t need to open 24 packs when there is absolutely 0 chance that a pack without an Auto is going to have any value whatsoever.

  10. Hey Gregg, why couldn’t the “brain trust” over at UD put as much thought and effort into SP Authentic Basketball this year? That stuff might as well be recycled into toilet paper. Not holding my breath for the football version. It’s amazing that there are still suckers out there that buy UD products.

  11. They’ve been doing it for years. Although, they did something cool for 2009 SP Authentic Football – they included some short printed HOF players in the boxes (1 or 2 per box, I think) and added some multi-player cards from the same team (Brady, Welker, Moss – Patriots; Brees, Coltson, Bush – Saints), which was pretty cool.

  12. Max, You have a right to your opinion. And, if you don’t like a product you should not buy it. However, SP Authentic is a huge hit with box busters all over the country. Sales everywhere have been even better than last year’s SPA. Feedback indicates the box busters love the content.

    My customers are not fools. They are professionals and investors who have made their money making smart decisions. I have a huge inventory and have access to all products. I do not tell my customers what to buy. They tell me what they want and I get it for them.

  13. LOLZ –

    “My customers are not fools. They are professionals and investors who have made their money making smart decisions.”

    Except buying boxes of SP Authentic wasn’t one of them. Trust me, I have bought multiple boxes of various Upper Deck products over the past 6 years and have pulled some of the nicest looking rookie cards of players no one will ever hear of. Sure, it’s great if you pull a “sick” looking Cam Newton jersey auto or an AJ Green rookie auto, but that’s rarely the case. A buyer is more likely to pull a Jerrel Jerrigan rpa and end up with a shit-ton of worthless base. That’s the boiler plate model for all of Upper Deck’s products. Basketball is the worst of the bunch. Slap pictures of Lebron, Kobe, and Jordan on a box, but you’re odds of pulling one of their autos is about 5,000 – 1.

    And oh great, larger jersey patch windows – for pieces of college jerseys that were maybe worn in a game against reject tech? Who cares? So what if “sales have been even better than last year?” People buy up Panini products like they’re going out of style and they basically make crap.

    After the offense against humanity that was this year’s SP Authentic Basketball, I will never again waste one more penny on an Upper Deck Product, but if there are enough suckers out there buying SPA Football to keep your wallet full, more power to you. Btw, I never suggested that you told your customers what to buy. It’s their money, they can waste it if they want to, Chuck.

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