The NFLPA’s decision to not sign a contract with Topps isn’t new. Remember the Fleer In Action cards and team logo stickers?
Take a look at Topps football cards in the 1970s and 80s and you’ll see virtually every starting player of note in the NFL.
What you won’t see are team logos and trademarks.
Fleer had signed a deal with NFL Properties, which licensed their use. The NFL Players Union contract belonged to Topps. The split licensing deal didn’t help either company, but somehow both managed to survive. Not surprising, maybe, for Topps which creatively sidestepped the lack of logos. Fleer’s niche turned out to be the stickers which kids plastered on their schoolbooks and everywhere else. The cards produced in the ‘Teams in Action’ series feature plenty of stars, none of which are identified by name.
Paul Angilly of the Bristol Press takes a look back at a strange time in trading card history as we head toward a new era in 2010.