14-15 Panini Preferred Should be the Template for Panini Football

Panini sucks at making football products. They suck really bad. I could go on and on about their suckage, but that would require too much effort.

As mentioned earlier, there is a reason why promotions like Father’s Day and Black Friday need to happen. They are so awful at creating a product that people will buy in a sustained matter, that they have to bribe customers to buy them after they complete the move to the bargain bin. Preferred Basketball is one of the only Panini products, that really presents the cards in a way that should move to football. In fact, it works so well in the design and on card autos, that it should be the template.

These cards can be pretty freaking awesome:

2014-15 Preferred Kevin Durant Silhouette Logo Auto /25

2014-15 Preferred Andrew Wiggins Silhouette Auto RC

2014-15 Preferred Jabari Parker Dynamic Debuts Auto /20

2014-15 Preferred Kobe Bryant Die Cut Auto

Right now, Panini's Football formula is so tired that people have all but given up on products not named Flawless, Contenders, or Treasures. Preferred presents some good looking cards, with a lot of chase value, and would make dog products like Crown Royale obsolete. Although some of the designs are the Panini par for the course horrendous, most of the cards, especially the silhouettes continue to be some of the best ones that Panini makes.

I would go as far as saying that Panini has recognized how important the silhouette style is, bringing it to a bunch of other products in a few different mediums. What I dont understand is the need to continue printing the Crown Royale logo on them, despite the fact that the product is dead in Basketball. It just shows me that Panini is so afraid of collectors running for the hills that they wont even brand the cards appropriately.

Something isnt working when it comes to Panini Football, and I am continually scared shitless when I see how many products they will have to build if Topps does end up getting kicked out of the market due to Panini’s pending NFL exclusive license. The bottom line is that brands that Panini can make in Basketball never transfer over in a meaningful way to football, leaving us with a 100 dollar box that has 4 hits and 1 sticker auto. We have seen preview after preview from Topps showing their prediction that they can do on card for most of the products they are releasing. So far, Panini cant even be bothered to have on card autographs when they have a captive audience to sign them at the premiere.

I like Preferred basketball’s designs, I like the chase cards, and I like that they are all hard signed. Panini Football needs to get off their ass, remove their head from between their cheeks, and figure out how to do something similar in a sport they are going to be overpaying much more for the license than they did in Basketball. Otherwise, we are headed for a bigger problem than which of Panini’s terrible sets should populate the latest Black Friday box dump.

My Top 5 Pre-Premiere Football Products So Far

The timeframe before the NFL draft and before the rookie premiere has become ultra competitive as of late, especially with Panini getting exclusive rights to produce NCAA cards. Considering how difficult this time of year is to produce cards, competition in this space seems quite interesting. But, since cards are a year round experience, everyone wants a piece of the pie for the new rookies, even if it means spending hours retouching photos for production. Here are my top five.

#1 – Upper Deck Inscriptions

To say this set is underrated is not doing it justice. On card autos with inscriptions, including a really good looking design that highlights all the right thing about the card itself. Because Upper Deck was losing their rights to create NCAA cards, this is a product that really set the tone for Panini’s eventual onboarding. Either way, this is a great representation of how good a set can look when done the right way. To think it even costs less than Contenders. Easily one of the best sets ever released at this time of the year. CHAMP.

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Marcus Mariota Auto Red Refractor RC

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Jameis Winston Auto RC

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Kevin White Auto Red Refractor RC

#2 – Bowman Football

What can I say, Im a sucker for on card Chrome autos. I love the way it looks, and the different refractor patterns being factored in to this concept only makes it that much more appealing. Even though Topps has been forced to use retouched pictures and generic uniforms, they made a great looking set all around. The 1948 mini autos are some of the coolest cards of the pre-season so far.

2015 Bowman Chrome Amari Cooper XFractor Auto /10

2015 Bowman Chrome Odell Beckham Die Cut Auto /25

2015 Bowman Chrome Todd Gurley Blue Refractor Auto /99

#3 – Leaf Metal Draft

Its absolutely amazing to me how much Brian Gray has done with putting out quality football products during a time where the big dogs are fighting over scraps. I would easily put Leaf Trinity in this spot or even above Bowman if it was out, but it looks like we still have a few weeks. Metal’s design is simple and Chrome, with all on card autos. Cant beat that. The only drawback is the design of some of the inserts, which look pretty forced and not fluid in some cases.

2015 Leaf Metal Draft Jameis Winston Blue Refractor Auto

2015 Leaf Metal Draft Melvin Gordon Diamond Pattern Blue Refractor Auto

#4 – Prizm Collegiate Draft

Usually, Prizm designs should go on display at the card creation Hall of Shame, but this set isnt bad for the base cards. The issue with it is with the sticker autographs, which Panini stupidly decided was a good direction instead of giving themselves time to let their new exclusive sink in. Some of the insert designs are fucking horrendous, and that takes away from the general appeal of the set, but its not horrible.

2015 Prizm Collegiate Draft Melvin Gordon Emerald /5

2015 Prizm Collegiate Draft Amari Cooper Red White and Blue Auto

#5 – Leaf Ultimate Draft

I really liked this product, mainly because the base autographs looked so high end. I still think that Trinity as a Super High End set would kill with a bunch of inscriptions and stuff, but it works the way it is. Ultimate Draft, like Trinity has high end looking content with a lower box price. It wasnt publicized enough, which left many collectors in the cold of how to acquire the cards they wanted. My shop, which orders everything, did not order Ultimate Draft.

2015 Leaf Ultimate Draft Marcus Mariota Auto RC

2015 Leaf Ultimate Draft Jameis Winston Auto RC

As the new products are released, Im sure that we are going to start to see the quality that we are looking for in NFL uniform cards. At the same time, this was a strong year for pre-premiere products. It definitely has not been the afterthought it was in previous years.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Topps Stadium Club

When it comes to sets that I identify my youth with, its a very short list. Topps Chrome, Topps Finest, Upper Deck and Stadium Club. Ever since Stadium Club went away and came back, there have been a number of attempts at recapturing the glory that this set once had. Last year’s set was the closest I believe its come to what I loved about the product, but this year seems to be that much better.

Check out some of the main hits:

2015 Topps Stadium Club Mike Trout Lone Star Signatures Auto

2015 Topps Stadium Club Kris Bryant RC Auto

2015 Topps Stadium Club Mariano Rivera Lone Star Auto

2015 Topps Stadium Club Bryce Harper Crystal Ball Case Hit /30

To me, Stadium Club was always about the full bleed action photos that highlighted the dynamic atmosphere of the game, combined with some crazy inserts that 13 year old Gellman loved to find.

What we see in the set this year is just that – ESPECIALLY in the way the inserts and the photography. There are some incredibly interesting photos in this set that I absolutely love, and even more interesting inserts that hearken back to what I always gravitated towards.

The autographs are simple and pretty understated, but I dont think autographs are really what this set is all about. I am beyond excited about the buyback autographs, where Topps took cards from those nostalgic sets of my younger years and had them signed by the players. Just awesome. They are crazy rare with only 5 copies, but man they are amazing looking.

This isnt necessarily a box I am going to run out and buy, but I would definitely be chasing singles like crazy if the people I collect were in this product. Boxes wont set you back a ton, and you get to open a bunch of packs. Definitely a fun rip. I think Topps has done a pretty good job with Stadium Club this year, and I am curious to see if there are more surprises we have yet to uncover.

Breaking Down Top Players in 2015 Bowman Football

I think that people are still finding their way with the 2015 rookie class, especially in trying to determine which players are worth the most over comparable examples. Only a few auctions have ended so far, but based on what I have seen, this is the way I expect it will eventually shake out.

1a. Jameis Winston – QB, Buccaneers

I am putting Winston only slightly ahead of Mariota, solely because he was the top pick. His off the field stuff may eventually put him at a solid number two in the class, but Mariota has similar bust potential based on the system he played in college.

Top Cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Jameis Winston Orange Refractor Auto

2015 Bowman Chrome Jameis Winston Printing Plate Auto 1/1

2015 Bowman Chrome Jameis Winston Gold Refractor Auto /75

1b. Marcus Mariota – QB, Titans

As mentioned above, Mariota is about as good as it gets off the field. On the field, I dont think he is as complete a prospect as Winston is. He played in a system offense, which many people have posed as the main reason for his potential bust status. Even though he is a bust, everyone seems to think his drive and character will carry him far. Hurts that he basically has no one to throw to and a crappy running game though.

Top cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Marcus Mariota Orange Refractor Auto /50

2015 Bowman Chrome Marcus Mariota Refractor Auto

3. Amari Cooper – WR, Raiders

I dont think Cooper has the raw speed or the raw craziness that we saw in some of the other top receivers that have come out at this draft position in the past. What he doesnt have in speed or general pizazz, he has in raw talent. The guy catches the ball better than anyone, and should end up being one of the safer pickups in the class. Derek Carr turned out to be pretty good last year, so that should help too.

Top Cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Amari Cooper Blue Refractor Auto /99

2015 Bowman Chrome Amari Cooper Refractor Auto

4. Todd Gurley – RB, Rams

People love watching a talented Running Back play the game. They love long runs and exciting jukes to shake defenders. All that being said, they dont assign value to their cards, at least not recently. RBs have shown to be disposable, and that means that there isnt a long term value in their hobby stature. Gurley already had a knee blown out, so im surprised that people want his cards so much.

Top Cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Todd Gurley Blue Refractor Auto /99

2015 Bowman Chrome Todd Gurley Mini Auto

5. Bryce Petty – QB, Jets

Kevin White is also a distinct possibility here at number 5 once this set settles down. If Petty was drafted by any other team, I dont think he would have the value he does to reach this spot either. Because the Jets’ QB situation is a complete freaking mess, he could get a chance to start if he plays well during camp and pre-season. We know that Geno Smith hasnt had much success, so what is the hurt to throw out a guy with very low expectations to see what he can do?

Top Cards:

2015 Bowman Chrome Bryce Petty Xfractor Auto /10

2015 Bowman Chrome Bryce Petty Gold Refractor Auto /75

The first big products to be released each year always incite a fun chase to start to pick up all the different cards of players the hobby wants to collect. As more sets are released, im sure the chase will intensify to the point where we will start to get a clearer picture of who the top guys in the class will be.

Breaking Down the 2015 Panini Father’s Day Promotion

Ahhhh yes. The time of year where Panini gets around to doing their spring cleaning. Having put out some of the worst performing products of the year, someone needs to to do something clear out all those shitty boxes before the real customers start getting angry. I forgot to say, if you think the people opening packs are the real customers, keep reading.

Father’s Day is upon us, a time where collectors are happy to spend their hard earned money to buy the aforementioned shitty boxes, for a pack of cards that everyone will forget about in a few months. In fact, its gotten so bad with these shitty boxes, that Panini now needs to run a giveaway style promtion 3 times every year! Father’s day, National Convention, and Black Friday. Here is the list of “products” to gorge yourself on all the Cracked Icy goodness. Wow, that’s a lot of poopy packs to open. No better way to celebrate Dad than with a box of some of the worst sets of the year! Im sure Panini can come up with a clever hashtag for that. Maybe they can put it on one of these stupid Manu-patches.

By opening those packs, here is what you can get in your free father’s day ones:

2015 Panini Father's Day Marcus Mariota Portraits Auto

2015 Panini Father's Day Odell Beckham Auto

2015 Panini Father's Day Sammie Coates Auto Jersey – What a hideous card. Gross.

2015 Panini Father's Day Brett Hundley Auto – This combine uni card makes no sense with the NCAA exclusive.

2015 Panini Father's Tom Brady Game Used Pylon Super Bowl – no mention if SB game used? Not sure here.

As I have said before, its rare that a company does a massive giveaway like this out of the goodness of their hearts. Nope, in fact, its not out of the goodness of their hearts, as this is the time where Panini makes good with all the distributors out there who have their allegedly “built for closeout” products ROTTING in their inventory.

If you arent familiar with the closeout process, im going to oversimplify it for the sake of this post. Its basically when a product cant be sold out at the factory to the distributors/online retailers who will move it to group breakers and shops around the country. At that point the manufacturer has to slash prices to move the remaining inventory. When you have popular products like Treasures or Contenders, this type of thing rarely happens. When you have a product like Totally Certified, well, that’s a very different story. Even in 2012, during one of the most profitable years in football as of late, Panini was still closing out their crap. Not shocking to me, as product quality has always been an issue with them.

In terms of this promotion, go ahead and go to your shop and ask the staff about the way they were able to get a hold of their father’s day packs. Was it because they have spent extra thousands of dollars taking on case after case of Spectra football just to get access to Immaculate Basketball? Nope that’s not it. Were they rewarded for the tens of thousands of dollars they have spent on Panini’s terrible crap all year long? Nope, not likely. Did they have to take on MULTIPLE extra cases of dogs like 2014 Prestige, 2014 Totally Certified, 2014 Absolute, and other horrendous products that they couldnt sell the first time around? Ding ding ding, WINNAH!

Because distributors have SO many cases of these turds that they cant sell, regardless of how much they mark it down below cost, Panini wants to give them a break. Distributors are the real customers that the manufacturers care about, as without their orders and relationships, their current business model wouldnt work.

Now, there are some shops that can afford to take on the extra product. They can probably ride the wave of adverblog hype to sell off some of the junk they have to buy. My shop doesnt discriminate, offering packs for any Panini product you buy – only because they are one of the only remaining shops that has the customer base to eat it up. Many of the other shops out there maybe arent doing as well, and those are the ones a promotion like this can kill. Collectors love free shit, especially when its shiny, and to hear the shop owner say that they arent participating is a great way to lose a customer.

Im not saying this promotion is all bad, especially if your shop is like mine. I am saying its good to know how the proverbial sausage is made here, because it might be something you want to voice your opinion about. Promotions like this show the true colors of the industry and how things are run, and it really doesnt look sustainable. Maybe Panini should focus on building products in a manner that doesnt need a Black Friday pack to sell the box. Maybe, just maybe, Panini should look to improve product quality instead of having lavish VIP parties and tossing around their cash like someone who just turned 18 and wants to go nuts at the strip club.

That’s on us to speak out, especially if you feel the way I do. Remember, come next year, Panini will likely be adding a very large sport to their roster of exclusives in Football. Its not because they are the best company, far from it. That should scare the bejesus out of you – especially when there are 20 more terrible products that have to be closed out. Shit, they might just run a Father’s day promotion year round!