The NFL is taking a page from Major League Baseball’s ‘Rookie Debut Patch’ program, but this time the patches won’t wind up on trading cards.
On Wednesday, the NFL announced the launch of NFL Prem1ere, the league’s first-ever jersey patch program that will put small patches on the jerseys of players who make their debut in an NFL uniform. The game-worn jerseys will be given to the rookies as a keepsake.
“An NFL rookie’s first game marks an unforgettable occasion in his football experience and we are excited to preserve this moment and honor this milestone,” remarked Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President of Football Operations.
Just prior to the start of the baseball season, Fanatics and MLB announced that each player who make his rookie debut would wear a jersey containing a patch that would be removed after the game and used to create 1/1 baseball cards that would be inserted into packs distributed by Fanatics’ owned Topps. The NFL and NFLPA trading card license has been held by Panini America but the players association recently announced it was “terminating” its contract with Panini two years early in favor of Fanatics. Panini has asked an arbitrator to intervene in the case.
All rookie players on a 53-man roster to start the 2023 NFL season will wear the patches during Week 1 of the season, beginning Thursday night when the Kansas City Chiefs host the Detroit Lions. Rookies who debut after Week 1 will wear the patch when they take the field for the first time.