Tom Brady Changed The Way Companies Build Products

There have been many titans of the gridiron, and many players that consistently get a ton of attention from collectors. Not surprisingly, Tom Brady is the one player that remains atop the mountain of collecting for football cards. I would even go so far as saying that his career changed more about the hobby than anyone could have ever thought possible.

The latest Super Bowl run has seen some bump in his already sky high value:

2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Championship Ticket Auto

2008 Bowman Sterling Tom Brady / Joe Montana Dual Auto Gold Refractor /20

2015 National Treasures Tom Brady Auto Relic /10

2014 Immaculate Tom Brady Pro Bowl Auto

Lets start at the beginning, because that’s where this story gets super interesting. As a no-name scrub, he was not invited to the Rookie Premiere, which was still a relatively new event back in his rookie year. With only a handful of players attending, if we could even call it a premiere back then, it wasnt the same as it is today. For the 2016 Rookie Premiere, 40 players were invited, and Tom Brady is one of the reasons that happened.

Card companies started to realize how important having rookie cards of every player was to collectors, especially when so many guys become superstars from the late rounds of the NFL draft. Other players like Tony Romo werent even drafted, and went on to have a borderline HOF career. Nothing like Tom Brady though, Tom Brady set the standard, and it changed everything forever.

Each year, there is a player like Alfred Morris in 2012 or even Dak Prescott in 2016, whose collectability doesnt take off until they get on the field. Considering that by August and September, many products are already on shelves, its too late to adjust for the unexpected. By then, collectors are already starving, and companies know that having cards in products is much more beneficial by that point. Its also cheap as shit to include scrub autos in products in the first place, which helps to diversify the content. Without players like Brady, that might not have been as prevalent.

I might be reaching here a bit, as product cost was destined to go up as companies became more and more dependent on the autograph content itself. However, its no accident that every drafted QB gets an invite to the premiere these days. They cant risk having a player like Dak Prescott not have a bevy of content available. QBs are the crown jewel, and Brady has shown over and over again, that a lack of content paired with a great career is something that spikes value through the roof. The companies arent stupid, and with how common autograph content is, they know that diluting the autograph pool isnt as detrimental as it used to be.

If Brady does pull off his 5th Super Bowl win, he will have more titles than 60% of the NFL franchises combined. He has played in more conference championships than anyone in history, and isnt showing signs of dropping off. This might not even be his last hurrah. He is the greatest QB of all time, and there will be no doubting that even if the Falcons end up winning. Collectors agree, as his cards cannot be had for anything less than hundreds of dollars.

2016 Black Gold: Technology Gone Right and So Very Wrong

This is now the third year of the unfortunately named Black Gold football. The title of the set doesnt really make sense, and when you look at the examples of what this product represents, the stupid name really kind of fits. This is really Panini’s main “technology” set, which means that they break out acetate, shadowboxes, and all sorts of weird shit as gimmicks. The problem is some of the set is pure gold, other parts of it are black fucking garbage.

The cards really dont do very well on the secondary market, mainly because its such a crap shoot, and with a horrible NCAA version diluting the market, its not much better:

2015 Black Gold Marcus Mariota Laundry Tag Auto /5

2015 Black Gold Tom Brady Auto Relic /10 

2014 Black Gold Derek Carr Sizeable Signatures Auto Patch

2015 Black Gold Andrew Luck Auto /25

2014 Black Gold Odell Beckham Jr Sticker Auto Relic – What a terrible design, good god.

As we have seen with previous editions, Black Gold focuses on delivering a combination of on card autographs with a lot of acetate type stock, and in many cases it works. In other cases, the cards are so fucking horrendous, that you just have to laugh. I mean, Dance Battle Joey Bosa gets two cards! How about that, cant even find a new stupid picture to use on either one of the new stupid designs.

That being said, the Sizeable series for RCs and Vets are amazing looking as are most of the auto relics that are part of this product. Much like 2014 and 2015, if its hard signed in this set, its going to look good, where most of the other stuff might as well be laughed out of the building. That includes the hilariously designed Metallic Marks, which are identical copies of 2016 Infinity, currently sitting below dealer cost on Blowout.

Only Panini would try to pull something like that in a Super Premium Set like this, and at this point its so much fun to make fun of them, I almost dont want it to stop. So far, in the three years of this product, plus the inexplicable releases of a college version, I have yet to see anything about this product that shows me its worth opening. I can buy 2014 and 2015 well below cost, and college Black Gold at lower than that. I literally have no idea how Panini could spend so much money building out this product year after year and still want to continue after it has tanked so heavily each time.

I knew they had no clue about what makes a card look good, but this just isnt good business sense to boot. Even if it sells out at the factory, its only because some dealer bought out a huge amount at a greatly reduced cost, and I would be SHOCKED if that continues with a rookie class next year that wont have Dak and Zeke. If Im a shop, im scared about what is going to happen, because this product looks to be one of the most over-produced super premium sets of the year. When you see the track record Panini has, that’s saying something.

Do some of the cards look good? Yeah, they do. Is this product even close to the potential it would have if they didnt shit out visual diarrhea for most of the designs? Nope, and that’s Panini in a nutshell.


On The Radar: 2016 Panini National Treasures Football Preview

If you think back to 2009, National Treasures maybe wasnt even the top 3 for products that collectors cared about. When Upper Deck lost their NFL license the next year, it left a giant hole in the super premium market that NT eventually filled by default. The product never really earned any of the brand recognition that it got, it was just lucky that no one else had a product with history in that space.

Over the next few years, Panini’s designs went from meh, to awful, to good to okay, and now that we are seeing the follow up to a very mediocre 2015 set, Im actually ready to say that this is one of the better looking versions of the product that I have seen since it’s creation. I really like the look, and I think it will end up being quite good.

Now, we are already seeing the stupid hat set is back, inexplicably for another year, which is fucking trash. Considering how bad these cards look, I actually find it funny how they have spread to other sets. As I have made clear in previous posts, the posed photos are such a visual train wreck, that it makes these cards completely horrendous.

Im sure there will be other posed photo sets, as Panini has shown their raging erection for these photos to anyone who will look. Lets just pray to the card gods that Panini decides to tape their boner down for as much of this product as possible.

Overall, this is looking like a good year for treasures, and hopefully they can execute like they did for Limited. Considering how bland Flawless looks from the same preview post, Treasures might be it.

Not a bad finish for the year when you consider how bad it started and continued through the middle of the year. Panini got very lucky with Dak and Zeke, and if they had started using better design work in the lead up as much as the completion, who knows what this year could have been. Pretty clear that collectors have spat on the terrible mid year products they put out, as there are so many red numbers on Blowout’s product page. They seem to be focused on driving good sets when it matters, and Treasures is definitely one of the only brands they have that matters. Too bad so little effort was used for the rest of the year.

On Shelves Now: 2016 Panini Limited Football

I think Limited has had a VERY up and down past. When jersey cards and that type of hit was still valuable in some ways, Limited had a much more solid approach to the game. Now that no single jersey card is worth shit, it relies on the autographs and chase hits in the product to really deliver the goods. In some years, the product fell so short that there isnt an excuse. Luckily for this big year, Limited might be the best looking mid range product Panini has delivered all year. That is saying something.

Check out some of the big hits already posted:

2016 Limited Dak Prescott RC Auto Patch

2016 Limited Carson Wentz RC Auto Patch

2016 Limited Ezekiel Elliott Draft Booklet Auto Patch

2016 Limited Aaron Rodgers/Eddie Lacy/Jordy Nelson Triple Auto /5

2016 Limited Warren Sapp Auto On Card Redemption

Bottom line, I have missed SP Authentic in football with the fire of a thousand suns. This year’s format might not hearken back to those days, but the design sure as hell takes a welcome page from Upper Deck’s handbook. Although the shitty jersey cards are inexplicably still a huge part of the product, the rest of the cards look so good it doesnt matter.

Switching back to on card autos with a white dominated design is insanely welcome, and I hope that people really respond to a product that doesnt use Panini’s demonic posed photos that they are obsessed with. I hope that this type of trend continues, as we are seeing some clutch designs really start to take hold in previews we are seeing from NT as well.

If Panini can remove their heads from their ass for a quick minute, we could see more designs like Limited take hold. Whatever artist designed these cards should be given a lot more work to do, as they know whats up. Action photos, sleek look, modern approach, much like SPA. All good things.

I want this to continue but Im not holding my breath.

Panini Points and Rewards: Why Does This Garbage Still Exist?

Think back a couple years and remember the overly gleeful refrain about how Panini points were going to transform the one thing about ripping wax that everyone seemed to hate. In fact, the article I posted back then still gets a ton of hits each day, because the message I ran with then is still as true now as it was. The Panini Points program is a complete fucking joke, and even if there are collectors out there who have found ways to make the system work for them, for the majority of us who populate this hobby, its a source of anger and rage.

In reality, the system does have functionality that COULD be useful if done in the correct way. The main thing about this program is not that its a terrible idea, its because it is solving the WRONG problem. As I have been saying for years, pulling a redemption in packs is not what drives collectors up the wall. Its the fact that 9/10 times, the redemptions take fucking forever to get done. Not all of that is on the company either, its just as much on the league and player as well. If redemptions took a short timeframe and didnt have a reputation, there wouldnt be an issue. Because of the history, collectors have come to associate redemptions as the problem, and not a symptom of a larger issue.

This means that using the points program as a solution for redemptions, isnt really going to do much. Its just going to replace one problem with another, and that’s putting it lightly. In reality, Panini (and every company for that matter) should find a way to incorporate a great method for helping collectors realize investment ROI when the redemption process goes sideways.

Lets face it, I would much rather pull a redemption for a Tom Brady or Kobe Bryant auto than not have those autographs available in products. Other people may not agree, but I would much rather include everyone they expect to be able to sign, than not have those people at all. At the same time, I dont want to wait 18 months for the completed project like I have waited for 6 cards currently in my queue. I also am too afraid to ask for replacements, because like the points program there are a myriad of horror stories out there. I want a slam dunk and a sure thing, and that just isnt available right now. Paying what I did for the redemptions I am waiting on limits what my perceived value of replacements chosen by another individual would be.

The answer is choice. The answer is fulfillment in a way that makes people feel like ROI is achieved. Points just make me want to throw a hammer at someone’s head. Points solve nothing, mainly because the rewards store is as much a game to be exploited as ever, and I dont have the time or desire to play that game. Im actually in the upper class of awareness, because I guarantee there are others who dont even know the rewards game even exists. Bottom line, you need to know when the stuff hits the store, and be ready to redeem when it does. Miss that time? Have fun with your cheap jersey cards that litter the front page.

I say the answer is choice, because there is no reason we shouldnt have a choice to begin with. If a collector pulls a redemption, they should have the choice between the player and the points, and if they choose the player and it falls through, points should be offered. Similarly, Panini should be held accountable to ensure the store is geared towards product specific redemptions, meaning I shouldnt be able to use points from Score to collect cards from Flawless.

Points are trash as it stands right now, and nothing makes me more upset than pulling them in a box. Its even worse when the product is high end, or even if its meant to be an extra hit. It makes me feel like I was shorted a hit, because there is so little I can get for the points, and actually redeeming a 150 point card will almost cost more in shipping than I would have gotten out of the points themselves. Think about it – 150 points goes for 5 bucks, shipping is 4.33. That means the effective value of 150 points is 67 cents, which is terrible.

These things need to go through a complete rebranding, and soon. As long as we continue to see them used the way they are, the more vitriol we will see from collectors that pull them.