Ill be the first to admit that I am completely bitter about the fact that Panini got the NFL all to themselves starting next year, and I dont think I am far from alone in that sense. Based on the Beckett report that they will need to produce at least 30 products next year, all by themselves, I think its worth offering some feedback instead of just complaining. They have more to fix than I could ever hope to write down in any way, here are the main things I want to see them fix first.
Get Rid of Studio and Posed Photos
Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes me want to run away from a product than Panini choosing those goofy fucking runway model posed pictures. Football is known for non-stop action and some of the most iconic game photography in the history of sports. Considering that Panini will now be able to run the NFLPA rookie premiere the way they want, especially with Topps out of the picture, there is no more excuses not to use the whole day for getting some amazing photos of the rookies in action. This does not mean constructing a makeshift photo studio where the players can pantomime screams and other lame ass poses, it means putting them on the field to make their cards look like real game action.
These are by far my least favorite cards around:
No More Sticker Replacement Gimmicks
Whether its signed scraps of acetate or signed scraps of paper that are embedded in the cards, either use a sticker or get the cards hard signed. The gimmicks are ugly and do nothing but showcase how much we miss hard signed cards like the other sports have ad nauseum. At least if they are going to use a sticker replacement, make it more a part of the design instead of obscuring a large portion of the card’s design space. Stickers, when done right, blend in and hide themselves. Sticker replacements are completely the opposite. Also worth mentioning that putting plain boxes behind the stickers or walling them off from the rest of the design is just as bad as a replacement gimmick.
Here are the worst of the worst:
Update the Rewards Platform
If Panini gave collectors the choice of waiting for redemptions instead of forcing them to use the points system, I would have a lot less negative things to say. The rewards store is not something I would ever voluntarily choose to use, and though some people have found success camping out and waiting for new loads of inventory, its a joke for the majority of users. Its even worse when you are opening a super premium product and one of your cards is REPLACED with a points card. That should never happen. Panini needs to realize quickly that redemptions are inevitable in many cases, and welcome in some cases. They are not the problem. The problem is what happens when someone pulls one they dont want, or dont want to wait for. This is where the choice to wait or get the points would be much more helpful.
Give Us Unique and Compelling Content
I dont know how Panini is going to create 30 compelling products. Ever. I dont know how its going to happen in any fucking stretch of the imagination. People can argue that no company has ever had a perfect calendar, but at the same time, no company has ever released a flaming ball of suck like Spectra either. The Panini Football team have yet to cultivate a brand of their own, and most have been such miserable failures that collectors laugh at them. Expecting them to build 30 products plus is just crazy talk. Its like asking a Patriots fan to give back to back coherent sentences on deflate gate’s impact for the 2015 season. So many of Panini’s products blur together or are bad to the point of being immortalized, that they are going to have their work cut out for them. Black Gold had some serious potential to be a unique product, but disastrous design choices prevented that from being reality. The Sizable signature relic cards were some great examples of unique content that should return. Same can be said about silhouettes and other Panini programs that are always well done.
Avoid Diluting Pro Products With College Cards
In the preseason and before the draft, using college photos over combine and pro-day crap is preferred. For everything else after the Rookie Premiere stuff is done, keep your oil and water separated. They dont need to be in the same product, even more so if a planned college only product is coming later on. There is college content in almost every Panini product these days, and collectors are overwhelmed and sick of it. There is very little reason to combine the two genres in my mind. College is a niche audience, and it seems like more people would be fine with it disappearing from NFL post-premiere products than sticking around. Letting College products stand by themselves gives collectors who dont want any NCAA materials the opportunity to avoid those cards.
Again, there are so many fucking problems with what Panini does with their card design that I could write forever and still not encompass everything. Im hoping they get their shit together because I really dont want to be out of football cards to buy next year.