UPDATE: According to an alternate source MANNING IS NOT EXCLUSIVE FOR AUTOGRAPHS, just for packaging. Rovell was mistaken. Jason has forwarded me the official release, and it looks like Manning is just their new “Trading Card Ambassador.”
This is bad, and I didn’t even think it was allowed actually. From what I am getting, it seems as though Panini has secured the first exclusive license to a player in the NFL. In the past, the players of the NFL have not been encouraged to sign specific deals with card companies that prevent them from being used in other products, maybe even prevented from doing so. Although both NBA and MLB allow similar player deals, and those deals were responsible for exclusives like LeBron James and Ken Griffey Jr, the NFL has never had that type of situation. Leave it to Panini to open pandora’s box, if it has indeed been opened.
Exclusive deals are the succubus that drains the hobby of its lifeblood. I actually should have added them as number six to my list of terrible things going on right now. Even though Topps is seemingly doing a good job in baseball with their exclusive, I think its pretty obvious how terrible the Panini license is in Basketball. If you don’t believe me, go check out a video break of any of their products. Compared to Upper Deck’s track record on the awesome Basketball products they have made, Panini’s products might as well be NSA patch cards. Because LeBron and Jordan are Upper Deck exclusives to begin with, the whole exclusive license has a ginormous hole where they should be.
The bottom line is that exclusives suck harder than an IHOP waitress in Tiger Wood’s hotel room. I hate them in every way, especially player and league exclusives. Besides being completely counterproductive to the overall spread of the industry, they prevent a lot of the best things of the past from happening. We will never be able to have Jeter sign a card with A-rod because of the exclusives that are in place for both players. Michael Jordan will never be able to be on another card with Kobe under the current arrangement, even when Kobe probably breaks some of MJ’s records in the future. League exclusives are even more terrible because of the way it prevents some of the collector’s favorite products from being released. I may despise some of the products Topps makes in football, but I do not want them to be prevented from at least trying to improve them. Same with UD in baseball and basketball. Variety is the key to hobby success and from what we have seen, without competition, there is very little good that comes out of an exclusive.
Beyond all of this bullshit regarding league exclusives and player exclusives, the NFL has never been one to buy into it. Whether it was by force or by choice, they found NO reason to limit the exposure of their players. Now that Peyton Manning, one of the biggest draws in the NFL has supposedly signed an exclusive with Panini, its going to be a mad dash for the companies to scoop up whatever players they can. Then they are going to start in on the rookies, and then who knows. By the end of this year, National Treasures may have some players or rookies and Topps Triple Threads may have others. As much as I thought NT was eye burningly terrible last year, Triple Threads was worse, and I do not want to be forced out of getting autographs I could normally secure without need for consideration of exclusives.
All I can say is that this is not good for anyone. Fuck Panini and their stupid exclusives if they think this is good for cards. Ill just add it to the long list of reasons why they are the Kia of the sports card business. Hope all you Peyton Manning collectors love stickers and foilboard.