2013 Absolute Football Takes a Step Back in a Desperate Year

In the years that Absolute has been around, I have never really been a fan. As its morphed into a set that pretty much represents everything I hate (foilboard heaven, poorly designed jumbo patches, stupidly themed subsets), I think there have been some major questions why it continues to exist the way it does.

For a long time, hit per pack products were special because hits were rare. Now that jersey cards have little to no value in the hobby, this product should have been gone a LONG time ago. Alas, here we are, decades later, with the same configuration, and a regression in autograph quality.

Base Cards

I liked the base cards in this set over the last few years, as I think they focused on game photos and little else. This year, they tried a more stylized approach which would be great, minus the fact that the nameplate is smack dab in the middle of the card. I dont get who thought this was a good idea, but it looks awful.

Last Year:

2012 Absolute Adrian Peterson Base Card

This Year:


Rookie Premiere Materials

There are many Panini autograph legacies that I literally cannot stand. This is near or at the top of the list, mainly because they have been some of the most poorly designed cards of all time. There were some improvements in content, switching to on card autos in 2011, but that looks to be gone. Instead we are left with a boring and played out concept that no longer has on card autos. You would think, with such a weak class, this would be the year to step it up, but they decided to go the other direction.

Last Year:

2012 Absolute Ryan Tannehill Rookie Premiere Materials Auto

2012 Absolute Nick Foles Rookie Premiere Materials Auto Logo 1/1 – One of the worst 1/1 logos ever.

This Year:


Tools of the Trade

One of my favorite sets of 2012 was Tools of the Trade, as they really looked like someone knew what they were doing in the design. The black background with silhouetted players looked TREMENDOUS, and I had high hopes for this year. I really like the 2013 version, highlighting on the photo where the swatches come from, and returning with the black background. These are the best cards in the preview.

Last Year:

2012 Absolute Troy Polamalu Tools of the Trade Auto Patch 1/1

2012 Absolute Eli Manning Auto Quad Patch

This Year:


Rookie Autographs

I was a HUGE fan of the base rookie autos last year, especially because they were the first to feature game shots of the RCs not at the premiere. It was a simple design that highlighted the player, and I loved it. This year, they are basically 2013 Prestige ver 2.0, which isnt a good thing. They arent necessarily bad, but it is just exceptionally boring.

Last Year:

2012 Absolute Alfred Morris Auto RC

This Year:


Plates and Patches

This set has migrated between brands for so long that I have lost track. Considering how important brand identity is in this hobby, I would definitely advise against this practice. I dont think these cards are bad this year, they just dont give me anything special. If I am paying 40 bucks a pack, I deserve something nice. These are just kind of “meh” all around.

Previous Examples:

2011 Gridiron Gear Plates and Patches DeSean Jackson Auto

2010 Gridiron Gear Plates and Patches Chris Johnson

This Year:


Leather and Laces

I hate event used footballs for a big reason. At the premiere, the players are thrown a ball and then throw it back. It is then placed in a bucket to be cut up. How is that something that should be commemorated in a card? At least with a jersey, they slip it over their head, but this is ridiculous. Now Panini is commemorating this with an entire set? Give me a fucking break. Yuck.



Again, this review is for a set that I have never really liked in the history of its existence, so that should say something about how I look at it. I think there was a significant opportunity to do something awesome with Absolute over the last few years, but regression on content and holding the price at the same is insane with such a weak class. You can easily open a 150 dollar box and get two scrub autos and two jerseys, and that is NOT okay. For every good vet auto available, you see some of the players on the checklist that are 8th tier at best. When the best rookie player you can pull out of a box will go for less than the price of a pack, that is not a good strategy. I hope this is the last year we see this product built in this manner.

2 thoughts on “2013 Absolute Football Takes a Step Back in a Desperate Year

  1. Gellman, I presume, I absolutely concur with most of your review.
    I have likened Absolute to Forrest Gump’s box of chocolate; you never know what you’re going to pull, due to the litany of sets, sub-sets and parallels. I am disappointed that the RPM auto jerseys are stale when they should have been hit with an “imagination stick.” Likewise, the base cards, to me, are a step back given the unfortunate placement of the player’s name. Foil board give young collectors a chubby while older collectors, such as myself (25 years I have been an addict to cardboard crack!), vastly prefer something less…. garish and blinding in a base-card. Given the dearth of difference-making rookies, coupled with a checklist that contains more scrap than stars, the price point is an outrage; My LHS is “giving it away at $160.” I’m sure I can find a box via D&A Cardworld for closer to $125 but I’ve not checked.
    Panini has some very solid products, ala’ “Rookies & Stars,” and they’ve pushed the envelope and crafted some eye-popping products such as “National Treasures,” and “Flawless” (Basketball)….but then again, those products are priced between “car lease” and “mortgage payment.” There has never been a greater divide between the collecting “haves & have-nots.”
    All of that said, and I don’t mean to ramble… it’s a curse, Absolute started with great promise… but finished leaving the collector feeling underwhelmed and $140 (give or take) poorer.

  2. the rookie premiere cards look better than last years. Only drawback is the sticker auto as opposed to on card. I got a leather and laces shoe of Keenen Allen which if nothing else is somewhat unique if items are his. The leather and laces football cards aren’t very appealing. In fact football pieces being used in cards doesn’t seem popular to most card hobbyists I’ve spoken to.

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