Are These the Worst NFL Trading Cards of the Year?

One of the main reasons I hate Panini’s product line as much as I do is their choice of photos. For whatever sick reason, Panini seems to want to paint athletes as different than the warriors they are on the field, using posed glamour shots taken inside as subject matter, instead of the insanely dynamic action photos that football is known for. Every last fucking product has some photo from the Rookie Premiere, where Panini thinks its attractive to ask Carson Wentz to stare blankly into a camera. They are the only ones in football to use this approach on a continual basis, and none of this is more evident than a recent set from Absolute. Ill warn you ahead of time, this is not a joke. These cards do exist.

Good god, the horror:

2016 Panini Absolute Eric Decker Men's Lifestyle Relic

2016 Panini Absolute Von Miller Relic

2016 Panini Absolute Charles Woodson Relic

Here is my thing. I hate posed photos as a whole. I understand that photos taken by pros on the sidelines cost money to obtain rights to. I also understand that the NFL probably wants sets like this to be used to highlight their brand. Regardless of this situation, I still cannot stop laughing. It also brings about fits of anger, because the rookie garbage that Panini has used for years (Initial Steps anyone?) has showcased a long storied past of making absolutely horrid photo choices across the product calendar. So much so that Panini seemingly seeks out new ways to get the rookies off the field and into their studio.

Historically, trading cards have featured posed photos on the baseball side, some of which I would guess has to do with licensing and technology available. In the era of high speed cameras and digital photography, along side massive trading card budgets, the excuse is gone. There is no more reason to use a photo of Kris Bryant sniffing his fucking bat like a goon.

Football is war. If you are a fan of the game, its likely because of the constant action and absolute brutality that is involved in the game. Although sports figures have likely become more and more focused on creating brands, only a small handful know how to and want to participate in that side of the game. For 99% of the league, the brand the players create is in uniform with full warpaint. If you saw some of these guys walking down the street, they would stick out, but for so much of the league, they would not be recognizable by name. This is different in almost every other sport, and Panini just doesnt get how to properly present football players. I blame the product team and the design team for going at it from this angle, and I will never support a product that uses this awkward garbage.

I have started to see trends on the secondary market as well, where brands that feature this type of picture dont seem to perform as well. There are a lot of factors that go into what sells and what doesnt, but this is starting to swing more and more against Panini’s use of posed photography center stage. Maybe collectors are voicing opinion with their wallet, that pictures of Ezekiel Elliot fake running arent as cool as Elliot ACTUALLY running on the field during the premiere. Hell, Panini owns both of those shots.

Bottom line, these stupid Men's style cards are ripe for parody, much like the time Beckett tried to employ love and relationship advice for collectors. Panini’s brands are worse off as a result of these choices, and for the sake of football, I hope they pull their head out of their ass. Once another 2013 comes around, there wont be Dak or Zeke to save them from themselves.

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