More than 40 top rookies from the 2015 NFL Draft class gather Thursday through Sunday for card company photo shoots and card signings while they learn the business of football at the 21st annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles.
The four-day event is hosted by the NFL Players Association, via its marketing and licensing arm NFL Players Inc. It’s a big week for Topps and Panini America at LA Memorial Coliseum, with the photos and signatures forming the basis for trading card products produced for much of the upcoming season. Fanatics Authentic will also be there doing individual autograph signings for its massive inventory.
Launched in Los Angeles in 1994, NFLPA Rookie Premiere is heavy on skill position players. Quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Kevin White and running backs Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, all first round draft choices, will be among the attendees as will several later round picks such as Ty Montgomery and Brett Hundley of the Packers. Leonard Williams of the New York Jets was the only defensive player on the NFLPA’s list of participants. The full list of players is below.
Players will wear their team jerseys during photo shoots and those shirts will then be cut up for use on ‘event worn’ memorabilia cards created for upcoming releases. Players will each sign hundreds of trading cards and stickers for Topps and Panini, which in the past has led to some less than quality looking signatures, but at least gives the card makers a jump on creating cards with players wearing something other than their college uniforms.
It’s not all fun and games for the players, though. Throughout the first major business event following the NFL Draft, players will gain information to “assist in the development of their professional careers and personal brands,” according to the NFLPA. The union’s annual orientation includes seminars focused on financial planning, brand building and group player rights.
The timing isn’t good for teams who have scheduled Organized Team Activities (OTAs) this week with several players having to miss a chance to become acclimated to their new schemes but it’s a conflict that isn’t new.
“NFLPA Rookie Premiere is the best opportunity for our partners to engage early on with the next wave of the NFL’s marketing stars,” said Ahmad Nassar, President, NFL Players Inc. “Rookie Premiere gives players a chance to showcase their personalities so that the NFLPA team can use that insight to connect the right players with the right brands to tell their story.”
2015 NFL Rookie Premier Attendee List
|Last Name||First Name||Position||College||Team||Jersey|
|Allen||Javorius ‘Buck’||RB||Southern Cal||Baltimore||37|
|Davis||Mike||RB||South Carolina||San Francisco||20|
|Gordon III||Melvin||RB||Wisconsin||San Diego||28|
|Grayson||Garrett||QB||Colorado State||New Orleans||18|
|Mannion||Sean||QB||Oregon State||St. Louis||14|
|Smith||Devin||WR||Ohio State||NY Jets||84|
|Williams||Leonard||DE||Southern Cal||NY Jets||62|
|Winston||Jameis||QB||Florida State||Tampa Bay||3|