Upper Deck has a new deal with the United States Football League that will allow the company exclusive rights to produce officially licensed trading cards.
The exclusive deal allows Upper Deck to be the sole producer of physical and digitally produced USFL cards.
The USFL is returning for its second season, nearly 40 years after the then-spring football league debuted in 1983 as an alternative to the National Football League. The original USFL league made a splash with the signing of Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker to the New Jersey Generals; and a bigger splash when the franchise was sold to real estate mogul (and future president) Donald Trump.
The first version of the league lasted through 1985 with Topps offering cards in boxed set form in 1984 and ’85. The first pro cards of Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Reggie White and some other future NFL stars were included.
Now, the USFL returns with new stars, and Upper Deck is ready to tout the new league.
In conjunction with Friday’s announcement, Upper Deck launched its USFL Preview Set on e-Pack. The 16-card set will feature notable players from the league’s eight teams. There will be three-card packs that collectors can buy, with Patriotic parallels numbered to 76.
Upper Deck added that the first 50 collectors who complete the base set Patriotic parallel set will be “randomly awarded” an achievement autograph card of J’Mar Smith, the quarterback for the Birmingham Stallions who led his team to the USFL championship game last season; or McLeod Bethel-Thompson, 34, the veteran quarterback of the New Orleans Breakers who has competed in the NFL, Arena Football and the Canadian Football League.
“USFL is an exciting addition to our roster, especially to expand our offerings for one of the most popular American sports,” Jason Masherah, president of Upper Deck, said in a statement. “We’re always on the lookout for ways to deliver fans unique products that capture their favorite sports, players and plays, so we have high hopes for this trading card set and all that the 2023 USFL season holds.”
Upper Deck also announced that it will release a USFL boxed set of 25 top players and five cards that depict key moments from the 2022 season. The set will be available in both hobby shops and retailers nationwide, the company said.
“As the USFL’s second season gets underway on the field, our collaboration with Upper Deck gives our players and our fans the opportunity to continue the action off the field with a company that set the gold standard in trading cards,” Daryl “Moose” Johnston, the USFL’s president who played 11 seasons at running back for the Dallas Cowboys from 1989 to 1999, stated. “What a thrill for our players to be featured on a trading card and the cards produced by Upper Deck will also bring our fans closer than ever to our players and the USFL’s exciting brand of professional football. The preview set is only the start for fans to collect and capture their favorite players.”