This is the event that everyone has been waiting for since the 2016 NFL Draft at the end of April. The one time that trading cards are the focus of the NFL world, and this event is the epicenter of that push. Over this week, the top NFL rookies will travel to LA and engage with the press, the trading card companies, and spend a day in their new uniforms for publicity photos. Here is a list of some important things to be on the lookout for, as this event feeds some of the most important pieces of the industry.
Panini Takes Over
For the first time ever, only one company will have the license to create physical trading cards. Panini paid through their nose to get this opportunity, and the rookie premiere is the first time that they will be on stage as the primary vendor for the event. You can expect a publicity blitz, both from the NFLPA and Panini about how much this partnership means to everyone, and its very likely the players will be involved as well. Panini’s adverblog will be on tilt with premiere coverage, and they will want to make sure that you see them at every turn during this week. They pay A LOT of money to throw this massive get together, and they want that money to count.
2016 Product Content
During this week, Panini will likely be putting out tons of content around their 2016 product lines, including previews of what some of the content looks like. We know that last year, Panini only had one hard signed set that was signed at the premiere, and the rest were sticker replacements like acetate scraps, manu-patch scraps, and other junk that isnt trading cards. Im VERY curious to find out if they pull their head out of their ass and get some real work done on hard signed material for the rookies. Im not holding my breath though.
Here are some of the cards that have been signed at the premiere from previous years:
Unfortunately, the company who made the best use of the premiere will no longer be there to get cards signed:
Topps Digital’s Presence
Much to Panini’s chagrin, Topps will not be completely shut out of this event, and I could not be more happy. If last year was any indication, Topps will have representatives from their digital team in attendance, and they will be gathering content for use in their Huddle app. Huddle recently signed a new long term deal with the NFL, so expect that this will continue to be a big deal for them long term. Topps has already made a fool of Panini’s digital team with some incredible draft based content, and I would expect that to be the case here as well.
The draft content should foreshadow some incredible stuff:
Event Used Relics
If you think all those swatches used for rookies during the 2016 year are game used, you are sadly mistaken. In reality, these swatches are created by the thousands when players are asked to slip a XXXXXL jersey over their head for 3 seconds. Those jerseys are cut up and put into cards through the whole year. This is the event where all of that gets done, so keep an eye out for funny things that happen as a result.
Action Photos in Uniform
Despite the fact that Panini seems to be hopelessly obsessed with goofy ass posed shots taken indoors, the event was originally conceived as a way to get publicity and card photos for many different companies. This should continue to be the case, as long as Panini just does away with action shots all together. I wouldnt put it past them given their history of asinine photo choices on their cards. Either way, there will be a lot of organizations in attendance and its likely that we will get some nice looks of the top guys in uniform for the first time on the field.
Overall Perception of the Event
In the end, Im still bitter at the fact that Panini has taken over. This event is the first of many big reminders that a world of poorly designed cards in worthless box formats is on the way for the foreseeable future. Im excited that Topps Huddle will have a place at the table, as they could easily change the game in the long run. If they can outshine Panini on both the digital and physical front with some great content, nothing would make me happier.
Even with all the bitterness, im still excited to see what happens over the course of the week.