2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere Builds Hype for the Upcoming Season – The NFL is a year-round league. The offseason provides almost as much glitz and glamor as the regular season. Fans are drawn to free agency specials on television, leading to the combine and eventually the draft. Fans and collectors spend each summer celebrating the new every crop of NFL rookies. For the NFLPA and Panini, the yearly Rookie Premiere event in Los Angeles provides an opportunity to generate content and acquire assets that will be used throughout the rest of the year.
This year’s event took place at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA. The cozy confines of the hotel provides the NFLPA and Panini access to 40 rookies. For the NFLPA, this event is used as a way to familiarize players with the NFL and gives them an “orientation” of sorts. Players attend lectures, meet with sponsors and get to know their fellow rookies. Panini is also on hand to help build their relationships with these players and acquire assets for their upcoming 2018 football products. Over the course of the event, tens of thousands of autographs are acquired for a variety of Panini football products. Now that (most) players are officially signed, they can start to appear in their NFL uniforms. Photoshoots at the event offer Panini their first chance at getting card images of rookies in their NFL uniforms.
GTS Distribution has the honor of hosting a special lunch that gives their customers up close and personal access to a handful of rookies. Panini provided this year’s group with six of the most popular rookies from this year’s class. The group included Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, Sam Darnold of the New York Jets and Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens. Joining these signal callers was number two overall pick, running back Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, and fifth overall pick Bradley Chubb, defensive end for the Denver Broncos.
The room fell silent as the rookies entered. This was easily the most impressive group of players Panini had assembled for GTS Customer Appreciation Day. All first rounders, the group displayed an immediate chemistry that delighted the audience. Tracy Hackler from Panini served as an emcee for the Q&A session, asking questions that gave players a fantastic opportunity to show off their personalities. One would think at least one of these high profile players would be a bit guarded with their actions, but that wasn’t the case. Josh Allen and Sam Darnold engaged in some playful joking, Baker Mayfield shared a childhood story about asking his parents to buy him trading cards at Target. Every player expressed admiration for Saquon Barkley’s incredible skills on the football field.
After the Q&A session, guests were given an even greater treat when they were able to pose for photographs with the rookies. Again, you’d think these players would show a touch of impatience, but it wasn’t the case. Each and every guest was given a moment to personally interact with the group. GTS and Panini sweetened the pot a bit more with a gift bag given to every attendee as they left the lunch.
On-field events were hosted in Thousand Oaks, CA on the California Lutheran University campus. Rookies suited up in their NFL uniforms for their first on-field photographs in NFL gear. Along with professional photographers, Panini’s team is gathering unique social media content. Players pose with oversized “who do you collect” graphics and atop pedestals for Instagram stories, GIFs and more. Stay tuned to Panini’s social media accounts. Content from this event will roll out throughout the entire summer.Autograph signing sessions also take place as Panini strives to deliver more on-card autograph content in earlier releases. Select guests are invited to a VIP area where many players will gather to chat with fans and pose for pictures.
While there are a great deal of responsibilities for players at the on-field event, it isn’t all business. Throwing targets are set up in one of the end zones and players will often gather to test their accuracy in friendly competitions. It’s incredible to watch Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold as they toss 30-yard passes at tire targets. Again, the chemistry between these players is on full display as they mingle throughout the day. It isn’t just quarterbacks throwing at targets, as everybody gets involved to see who can put a football through a tire at 30 to 40-yards.
This event can appear quite intimidating to players getting their initial taste of the NFL, but Panini and the NFLPA have turned this event into a well oiled machine. Every single person at the event was stress free as they did their job to make the experience memorable for everybody involved. A very high bar was set at the 2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere, and it will be exciting to see how they can top it next year.
2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere Builds Hype for the Upcoming Season – GTS Customer Appreciation Day Recap Video
2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere Builds Hype for the Upcoming Season – GTS Customer Appreciation Day Image Gallery
2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere Builds Hype for the Upcoming Season – On-Field Image Gallery
2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere Builds Hype for the Upcoming Season
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