High end in football is pretty much a losing proposition, unless you are someone with an unlimited or close to unlimited budget, or a group breaker. As we see this year, injury has ravaged the league, with top stars out across all facets of the game. Whether its rookies like Deshaun Watson or Dalvin Cook, or superstars like Watt, Beckham and Rodgers, this hasnt been a great year for anyone who doesnt collect Goff or Wentz. Suspensions of Elliott and others havent boded well for Dak Prescott and his numbers either, only adding insult to injury.
In the last week, we have seen two super premium sets hit the market, and both rely on the rookie class to deliver value in the boxes at their price. Immaculate is a perennial blockbuster, and has been quite nice in the three years it has been done in football. Flawless NCAA, on the other hand, is a completely necessary dilution of an ultra premium product that has struggled on the NFL side every year since it came to be. Both are hampered further by the injury based attrition to the class, even with guys like Smith-Schuster, Hunt and Fournette delivering great rookie seasons.
Check out some of the cards so far:
We are quickly getting to the meat of the calendar for Panini, with Contenders, National Treasures and Flawless all set to be released in the next 6 months. In between, many things can still happen, but with Watson’s potential records being sidelined permanently, its all back to square one. In addition to the top rookie of the class being hurt for the rest of the year, the rest of the potential impact rookies are all at non-QB positions. Sure, Trubisky and Peterman are in starting roles, but jury is far from a verdict the way people might have been ready to call it for Watson. Fournette looks great, as does Hunt, but like Cook, they are in a league that puts running back into the disposable category.
Flawless NCAA is still baffling to me. I have heard that Panini poured more money into acquiring the license for NCAA than they did for NBA, which would have been a gross overvaluing of a product line that never really made much money (if any) for UD. They also have heavily diluted existing pro brands, all while adding weight to a sinking ship of Niche collectors who have RARELY been interested in paying to open any super premium products. Singles have tanked regularly, and yet they keep churning and burning these products. Hopefully someone with more vision for the brand line can take NCAA back, because Panini clearly has no idea what to do with it.
I get that there are college collectors out there, however, the group has shown they are not A) large in number nor B) able to sustain a lucrative secondary market. So, when Flawless FB costs as much as many super premium NFL products, we all have a chuckle as to why Panini is trying to ram this down our throats now that their evil plot to put UD out of business hasnt worked (yet).
The cards look good – there is no doubt about that, but I cant wrap my head around what we gain from adding to this space? This also puts immense pressure on shop owners and group breakers to potentially let this product rot on their shelves. Although no one is forcing them to order, some shops and breakers do at least one case of everything. The funniest part of all this seems to be that the group breakers are even a bit worried, selling it by the box instead of by the case as we see with 99% of the other products available.
Overall, this is a shitty fucking idea from a company that has the shittiest fucking ideas there are. Outside of year one in Basketball and MAAAAAYBE year one in Football, this product has struggled to maintain regular momentum as a legacy type brand in the sport. Secondary market values on the pro side have sagged to the point of not supporting the insane box prices in football and somewhat in basketball. Considering how hard signed material is still at treat in Football to a point, that shouldnt be the case. Panini’s decision to dog pile on the brand with a needless inclusion of a college version should be laughed out of the building. Period. End of story.