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How This Year’s NFL Rookie Cards Are Driving Sales

by Craig Paulson

The 2010 football card market is enjoying a resurgence, both in sales and in interest, at least compared with recent years. This year’s product, at least so far, appears to be a hit both with the consumer/collector as well as within the hobby itself.

2010 Topps Platinum Sam Bradford autoTraditionally, a specific card set is driven by it’s rookie cards. A look back at some of football’s most popular sets shows this to be true; Joe Namath, ’65 Topps;  Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Greene, ’71 Topps; Dan Marino and John Elway, ’84 Topps are only a few examples.

The 2010 rookie class is loaded with several big name quarterbacks, football’s glamour position. Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen all got lots of attention with Bradford already looking like a future star in the league.  But a great scouting report doesn’t guarantee stardom, as anyone who bought Ryan Leaf, Todd Marinovich, David Carr and Tim Couch can attest.

For an investor, stockpiling rookie cards is obviously a risky game. Timing is all-important, again, just as in the stock market. But it’s not only the QB’s that are making headlines in the 2010 class.

Topps Jahvid Best Rookie Redemption cardDT’s Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy are both playing up to expectations to this point and barring injury, should be stars, ditto for DB Eric Berry, who has quickly become a standout with Kansas City, the NFL’s early-season surprise team.

It always takes a few years to fully evaluate a draft class, but this class appears to be loaded with not only elite athletes, but also quality ones. Other 2010 rookies that may take some time to find their niche, but are highly thought of include LB Rolando McClain, S Taylor Mays, RBs C.J. Spiller and Jahvid Best, OT’s Trent Williams and Russell Okung, TE Jermaine Gresham and WR Dez Bryant.

Topps and Panini have made their their issues, especially the base products, are loaded with rookie cards with hobby shop owners happy to tell anyone who’ll listen that their chances of pulling not one, but several, in just a few packs, are excellent.

Another factor that possibly could be driving the 2010 football card market are the insert cards. A glance at any recent price guide reveals the incredible values listed for autographs, game-used memorabilia and redemption items. Quite possibly collectors are buying up product in record amounts in an effort to pull “the” 1-of-1 rookie card.  Sadly, the days of collecting base set cards just to compile a complete set are behind us for the most part.

The absence (at least for now) of Upper Deck from the football card market could also be a factor. Collectors may be projecting other card companies either “down-sizing” or unwilling to pay the increasingly expensive licensing fees required to produce NFL product. The impending NFLPA labor re-negotiation could also be spooking some collectors.

And perhaps the product itself is what’s attracting the consumer. Topps has come out with an almost unanimously well-received product and news of the company’s return after months of belief that the league was pulling the plug on its license, has helped awareness.

There are more 2010 football rookie-related card products being sold on eBay than any other sport.  Here are the listings.

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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