Panini pumps out the latest edition of Playoff Contenders, an issue focused heavily on rookie autographs.
by: Rich Klein
The Playoff Contenders product was the second brand introduced by Playoff way back in 1993. Beginning in 1998, the Contenders product took a major step up in collectors’ eyes when the concept of rookie autographs in the packs was added. The 1998 Contenders Peyton Manning signed card still lists in Beckett for $3000 and the Randy Moss card books in Beckett at $500. To this day, Contenders is still one of the most eagerly awaited brands in what is now the Panini company line.
This season’s edition is hitting stores this week. We got a sneak peek at this year’s edition to see if the 2009 box delivered on the past history and present expectations. I was able to do an ‘on location’ break at a popular sports card shop near me (Triple Cards in Plano, TX) and got help and comments about it from a long-time dedicated collector, Joe Bob Isbell. For those who may not know the name, Mr. Isbell played with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960’s and is an active football card collector to this day. We were both very impressed with what we received from our box. More details later!
First, the design element has the base cards issued as horizontal cards with the player’s photo set against the background of his the year and his team name. On the side are the words "Season Ticket" with his position, uniform number and professional experience included. The top of the card has usages of the team colors along with their home stadium name and the capacity of the stadium. The vertical back is highlighted by a player photo in the middle with an informational blurb and 2008/career stats near the bottom. Mr. Isbell’s comment was that these cards have an "EA Madden" type feel to them. He also commented about how much player information was available from just looking at the card.
Among the Legendary Contenders Hall of Famers up for grabs are: Bart Starr, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Deion Sanders, Dick Butkus, Earl Campbell, Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris, Frank Gifford, Gale Sayers, George Blanda, Jim Brown, Joe Greene, Joe Namath, John Elway, John Riggins, Lance Alworth, Marcus Allen, Michael Irvin, Mike Singletary, Paul Hornung, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman
As of this past weekend, Contenders Football was selling for $120-130 online and the my local store price was $137. For that price one gets 24 packs with five cards per pack. Every box was supposed to have at least one player touched signature and the box said an average of four certified autographs per box. Did we make the goal? Here is the breakdown.
Basic Set: We collated 98 different of the 100 cards in the basic set. No duplicates
Playoff Ticket (Parallel): Tim Hightower (#d to 99)
Draft Class: Three cards from this insert set: Everette Brown/Mike Goodson; Knowshown Moreno/Kenny McKinney and Jeremy Maclin/LeShon McCoy
Rookie Roll Call: Three cards from this insert set: Donald Brown, Derrick Williams and Josh Freeman
Round Numbers; Four cards from this insert set: Mark Sanchez/Darius Heyward-Bey, Brandon Pettirgrew/Percy Harvin, Shonn Greene/Glenn Coffee, Stephen McGee/Mike Thomas (Mr. Isbell loved these cards with the steel-looking background)
Rookie of the Year Contenders: Three cards from this insert set: Matthew Stafford, Aaron Curry and Hakeem Nicks
Legendary Contenders: Three cards from this insert set: Bart Starr, Jan Stenerud, Johnny Morris
Rookie Tickets (Signed Cards): Pat White (Player touched signature), Brian Cushing, Dominique Edison and John Phillips
Legendary Contenders SIGNED: Bob Lilly
We received 22 hits out of our box, no duplicates and hit the stated goal of at least one player-touched autograph (Pat White) and four certified autographs out of our box. With 22 of the 24 packs in a box having a hit, albeit some of them small, most every collector will be satisfied with opening this Panini product. The funniest part of this break was when we opened one of the two packs without a hit: Mr. Isbell commented that he hoped that pack was not the one where the autograph was supposed to be. On the final pack opened; we received the fourth Rookie Ticket signed card.
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Long-time hobby fixture Rich Klein reviews the latest sports card products for Sports Collectors Daily. He can be reached at [email protected]