Every year in Los Angeles, the NFL rookies gather to take their first pictures in their new jerseys. Starting over 15 years ago, this has been the case at this time of the pre-season. Its a ridiculously exciting time for fans of the game, and I am ridiculously excited to see what the card companies put together. There will be more information floating around this week than ever, so here is a guide of what to keep your eye out for.
New Nike Jerseys
After years of being a Reebok exclusive, Nike has taken over all uniform and team branded merchandise for the NFL. In addition to new types of jerseys, there will be a continued focus from the card companies of how to make it work in their cards. The NFL equipment logo at the neck has FINALLY been replaced with the singular shield, and the flywire collars should give a new look to the cards. I am looking forward to how this is going to factor into the swatches of jersey, but also how the players will wear them.
Saturday is the day for the rookies to get on the field in Pasadena and start signing their autographs. We will surely get a look at a lot of the cards thanks to the rise of the use of things like Twitter and Instagram. Last year, we saw some awesome stuff like Topps Inception and the Rookie Premiere autographs from flagship, as well as a good look at some newer stuff that was going to be inserted into other products yet to be titled. It was like looking at a preview for the first part of the card year without a sell sheet, and I am thoroughly excited at what we will be seeing this year. Lets just hope the companies bring their A game like Topps did last year.
If you havent already followed @toppscards, @toppsfb, @paniniamerica, @nflpa and the players themselves, make sure you do it now. Also save the search #rookiepremiere for more content. Topps has already started tweeting out pictures, and this is your chance to really get down to business in following the event. There will be a lot of pictures (both good and bad) to help the collector stay involved, and if the Mark Ingram picture was any indication of what will go down this year, there is already enough motivation to get on board.
I always loved getting first hand photo evidence of what the autographs looked like from each player. The guy could be the best prospect ever, but as long as he signs like Chris Johnson, Im not touching his cards. Cool looking signatures enhance the value of an autograph, and so far, we have only seen some good examples from Luck and RGIII. Im still interested to see the back end of the class when they are signing on card.
All of the people at the premiere on behalf of the hobby have already committed to crazy giveaways planned for the weekend. Through Facebook and Twitter, collectors will be able to get a chance to win all sorts of stuff from the premiere. Once everything starts, following the companies will give you the most opportunities to win. I have already seen autographed footballs and helmets being given away from the NFLPA, I can only assume this will continue.
The rookie premiere is more than just getting a place for all the rookies to wear the jerseys, its about setting the tone for the entire year. As long as Topps and Panini remain committed to helping their fans get closer to the game, this event will continue to be a huge focus for the success of the card season. This year’s draft class has as much potential as ever, and I can tell you that slate of products for 2012 should reflect that. Lucky for us, we will get a good idea of what that means starting today.
Ill post updates on Twitter and the site as they are revealed by the companies, stay tuned!