Rest in Peace Topps Football, You Will Be Missed

This hobby has been my life for almost 30 years. For some people, that 30 years is child’s play, as collecting cards usually has a place with people for a long time. To put it into the context of my life, Topps has been in football twice as long as I have been a part of this hobby, and almost 25 years past the beginning of my life. Today, that comes to an end.

Starting tomorrow, Panini will seize control of the NFL after offering so much money for the exclusive deal that it would have been stupid for the league to turn a blind eye. Topps couldnt compete, and even if they wanted to, im not sure they were dumb enough to get for as much money as Panini threw at both the PA and the league. Its just an insane amount of money. Personally, I believe that it was done in the name of trying to push Topps out of business, but that is about as shortsighted a move as possible.

The legacy Topps has built in the top sport in the US is one that will stand LONG past the demise of their brands. The iconic cards from even the recent years will cast long shadows over the stuff Panini is going to have to churn out of their assembly line. The older cards, ones that I grew up longing to have in my collection, will forever be looked upon with nostalgia and happiness, as well as a latent curiosity of why the current state cant measure up.

Personally, since Upper Deck’s departure from the NFL in 2010, no one has made better looking cards than Topps. Their design team rarely had issues, and when mistakes were made, they werent made twice. They made their cards look so good, that I honestly was appalled at how far the gap was between them and Panini. Over the last few years, sets like Chrome, Five Star and others have set the standard for quality in visual appeal. Other sets like Definitive Collection might be some of the best made in this era.

Adrian Peterson Superfractor

With Topps, the cards rarely looked anything but amazing, and that is what drew me to their brands. To me, design and look is the one thing I dont look past. If the card looks like garbage, I dont even put a second thought into other considerations of the set. Thanks to the way they built their products, I rarely had to scoff at the sets like I always do with Panini.

Losing a brand or brands from a sport loses more than just the history. It loses another take. It loses perspective. Panini has a completely different way they approach building a product, and even if I hate their formula, the variety the exclusive deal prevents is scary. In the next 10 years we are going to get nothing but one take on football cards, from one design team, 31 times a year. Its going to be brutal. Its going to be so brutal that Im not sure I can continue to buy new football cards in box form.

I have commented numerous times on how negatively I think the Panini exclusive will impact football cards, and I havent wavered from that. Even if they made  the best products in the world (they dont), the minimum guarantees owed to the PA and league are so high, that quantity will be more important than quality. Considering that Panini already has an ENORMOUS issue in creating good looking quality products, its going to get really bad.

Sadly, we are also losing the one brand in Football that people outside of collecting really know. Say Panini to anyone on the street, and its a grilled sandwich, not a trading card. Topps has brand power that expands past the normal collecting base.

Thankfully, Topps Digital will continue to show the world what Topps Football was and continues to be. The Huddle app will not be part of the exclusive, so they can continue to operate as normal. This is not just important in continuing the rich history of the brands, but also reminding people that the mind-numbingly awful products that are on the way werent always the only option.

Now that both Topps and Upper Deck, the best and second best cards in the hobby are both out of the majority of the four sports, we should all be pretty sad that things have been reduced to this lowest common denominator. Historic modern brands like Exquisite, Chrome, SP Authentic, and Finest are now one sport products, if that. Topps Flagship, the most popular set in the hobby has gone from a 4 sport set to a 3 sport set, to a 2 sport set and now its just baseball. Tides have shifted things in the wrong direction, and for 2 of the top sports, a company no one in the US really knows has taken over.

Its sad that the brands I grew up with in Football are pretty much gone. For the last 20 years, I have collected the top rookies from my favorite teams in Chrome and Finest. Every year, even when I wasnt collecting during my teen years. It was a tradition that transcended my personal preferences in entertainment. For the first time in that span, 2016 will no longer have that as an option for me in Football.

Rest in peace Topps Football, my childhood and adult experience with your products have brought immense joy to my life and my son’s life. The Topps cards in my collection will continue to be a treasured part of my memories, and I am making a promise to regularly go back and appreciate what your brands have accomplished over the years. I understand this sounds intensely personal, because for the last two decades, it has been. I love what Topps has done, and I am bitterly angry that they are no longer able to continue to be a part of the hobby I love. I doubt I will be the only one who feels this way.


13 thoughts on “Rest in Peace Topps Football, You Will Be Missed

  1. Agreed Topps Football will be missed, I guess we could see it coming as they were almost pushed out the door in 2010.

  2. I agree completely. After growing up with topps and UD cards, RIP football cards.

  3. It feels like we are back in the early 90s. But instead of 10 company’s over saturating the market with base cards, we have one company over saturating it with junk auto’s. Our hobby feels like it’s dying again. I love collecting cards. The thrill of ripping and passion collecting my favorites is why I’m so worried for the hobby’s future. There are 3 things that make a card collectible, the player, the style, and the rarity. The player is obvious, and you have spoken about the style many times. What seems lost is the rarity. First you have roughly 30 products a year, each with various sub sets. Then you have numerous parallels. It’s watering down the market making cards less and less valuable. Look at Contenders one of the ONLY iconic brands panini had. Even in a watered down market you could count on Contenders with RC tickets and SSP’s. Not any more! Each card now has a variation and each variation has regular, playoff, championship, cracked ice, and SB parallels. So now when you pay 135 for a box, you have to hit a top RC just to break even. Remember the Arian Foster Sterling auto craze. When Foster came out of nowhere people scrambled for his only RC auto. He wasn’t a major draft pick so he only appeared in one set. That won’t happen again. Hell if I declared myself draft eligible as a joke, I’d probably end up in 3 or 4 products. This isn’t about money. I don’t expect to make money off cards, but value is important. If something doesn’t have value ppl will stop collecting it, even more so with rising box prices. The hobby has survived these last few years without much rarity, because of player popularity and the style of some very cool cards. Now panini has football all to themselves, so style is most likely out the window. I doubt player popularity can drive the market alone. I mean how much are those Emmitt Smith RCs worth today?

  4. Also credit to Topps for going down swinging. Diamond is awesome. Instead of having various colored parallel cards (like EVERY other product) they used colored ink to differentiate the parallels. What we got is a dark chrome card where the signature really pops. And the design is nice and simple so it doesn’t distract. Also the patches have color! I’ve seen so much national treasures that I forgot that NFL jersey’s aren’t just one flat color! WOW definitive and now diamond. Panini is a joke and here’s to hoping they go bankrupt.

  5. I ve been collecting topps since 1970 and will not be buying that cheap sorry product that they have produced for years topps smoked them every year and are smoking them this year without even making a card need to bring topps back nfl pa

  6. I loved topps, but Panini does have better cards. year after year I do think topp’s cards are getting worse. But, I still love them. R.I.P Topps.

  7. You will never be forgotten Topps Football. I collected you while it lasted.

  8. Have collected only Topps since the mid 70’s I will miss my Topps football tremendously I can only hope they can come back in the future.

  9. I’m missing the topps product very much,I’ve bought a few panini products here and there. And I’m very disappointed in the product. I’m reduced to buying vintage and finishing sets that I have. I hope and pray that topps gets to make football cards again some day.its a black day for the hobby that have loved for almost 40 years.

  10. Sad 😭 indeed it’s to bad that Topps football is no longer being made. I’ve stopped collecting and will not give any Panini brand products a cent of my money ! As long as Topps football is not being produced my collecting days are over 1971-2015 were my years of collecting!

  11. For thirty years I have only bought one football card set a year, the Topps base set. In fact, I have every base set going all the back to the 1894 Mayo Plug set, then 1935 National Chicle, and so on… I realize that we have had different manufacturers over the years and I have made the transition to the 440 card Score Panini set in the taking of the baton. The quality is not the same and neither is the heritage. The cards sets over the years have gone through rough patches and my hope is that good days will be ahead again.

  12. I used to be the biggest collector of all sports cards first upper deck and now topps panini is garbage thier redemptions are absolute garbage I stopped last year and still have redemptions from 2013 that have not been redeemed sucks that I will never buy another box of football cards the market is flooded and all the fun is completely gone autos and game jerseys are worthless with 10 thousand variations of every player sports cards are dead thanks paninni

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