This week, the biggest event of the football card year is set to launch. The NFL’s rookies will descend on Los Angeles to don their pro uniforms for the first time and also coordinate their premiere entry into the hobby. The Rookie Premiere is a huge undertaking that is put on by the card companies and hundreds of partners, and for the most part, signals the beginning of the football season in cards. Here is what to look for this week.
Topps Rookie Premiere Autos
There is one tradition from the weekend that trumps all others, and that is the same day signatures that Topps does for their flagship brand. On Thursday and Friday, as the rookies arrive, they take photographs in their pro jerseys to be printed and signed the following day at the premiere. These cards have been controversial in the past, but now that serial numbers are present on each version, they remain some of the best early cards of any rookie. If last year was any indication, Topps should be previewing them all weekend. They are really the only studio style, helmet off cards, that I buy, only because of the prestige that comes with these rare pulls.
2012 Topps Rookie Premiere Trent Richardson Auto /90
2011 Topps Rookie Premiere Colin Kaepernick Auto /90
For the last two years, Topps has used the rookie premiere as a place to fill out the ranks for one of the most popular early season products. Inception uses photoshop and special filters to allow for game style pictures on the cards, and the on card autos really make them about as cool as a pre-season autograph can be. Last year’s cards fell a little flat being that the design wasnt changed much year over year, but this year the look seems to be upgraded. These cards really are premium cards that usually arent available until late in the ACTUAL football season, and I would make it a point to see the previews that will likely be posted all weekend long.
2012 Topps Inception Andrew Luck Auto RC
2011 Topps Inception AJ Green Silver Signature Auto
Panini Elite Inscriptions
For as long as I could remember, Panini wasnt really too active on getting on card autos at the premiere until last year. There were some terrible examples here and there, but not many. Last year they went full on, and the Elite Inscriptions were definitely the highlight for me. I thought they turned out awesome on the acetate stock, and they provided big areas for the players to sign and write things. This year, they went with a design I feel is a big downgrade, but its all going to depend on how the finished product looks. I am never a big fan of putting a box around a spot that features an on card auto, as I think that kind of defeats the aesthetic appeal. Who knows, we will have to wait to find out.
2012 Panini Elite Russell Wilson Inscription Auto Acetate
2012 Panini Elite Robert Griffin III Inscription Auto Acetate
Panini Pen Pals
ALthough I absolutely HATE HATE HATE the name of this set, the cards are pretty cool. However, the design has not changed since 2012, but it isnt too big a deal with a good looking composition. These cards are usually pretty sought after, even though they made the switch from being extra hits in National Treasures to being featured hits in Prime Signatures last year.
2012 Panini Prime Signatures Pen Pals – Luck, Griffin, Richardson Autos
Online Giveaways and Local Events
Both of the card companies are huge at doing major giveaways and promotional events for the weekend on Twitter and Facebook, and I doubt that is going to change. I would prepare yourself to frequently check the pages for each company, and also be on the lookout for the events during the weekend if you are in the area. In the past, there have been exclusive signings at local chain stores, and even a flag football event where signatures are well available. Get there early though, they are highly publicized and attended.
Three teams have new uniforms this year, and this will be the first opportunity to see them in action. Cordarrelle Patterson will be representing the Vikings in their new duds, Dion Jordan for the Dolphins and their redesigned logo and unis, and Denard Robinson for the Jacksonville Jaguars and their new two tone helmets. This is what I will be looking for, as its pretty obvious that these guys know they will be on stage.
On Card Autographs Aplenty
I highlighted four sets above that will all be featured with on card autographs, but there will be PLENTY more where that came from. Topps has already previewed autographs reprinted from the 1986 Topps Set, and Panini will likely have quite a few to use for the release of 2013 Prestige. Although Topps has a much better track record in this department, Panini isnt letting up. I think the 2013 Prestige base design is weaker than its ever been, so I am REALLY hoping these work out some how. They went vertical orientation on a lot of these, but too many of them provide a very small space for the signatures. The throwback minis were a huge hit last year, so Topps needs to bring it this year again.
Stay right here for more updates as the week progresses, I will be doing a daily wrap up as things start to show up.