2018 Rookie Closeout Helps Panini Secure High-End Autographs

2018 Rookie Closeout Helps Panini Secure High-End AutographsCollectors love their on-card autographs, especially in high-end products. Nothing goes better with a premium jersey patch and low serial number than a hard signature. This decade, Panini has seen significant growth with their high-end brands. The increased hype for products like Flawless, Immaculate and National Treasures has created a demand for more on-card autographs. In an effort to secure as many of these as possible, Panini has established a presence at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. I was lucky to attend this year’s event and get a first hand look at how Panini and the players get all these cards signed.

From January 17th to the 19th as players made their way through Collegiate Bowl festivities at the InterContinental Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, many of them spent time at the space occupied by Panini. Supplied with tunes, snacks, and a whole lot of sharpies, these players signed as much as they could. Mitch Trubisky was a real trooper, signing stacks of high-end National Treasures cards, due out in March. Cooper Kupp signed some fantastic Rams logo patch cards.

I can imagine it would be a bit daunting for a player to sign stacks and stacks of cards with no end in sight, but Panini was able to create a light and fun environment that the players seemed to enjoy. Flanked by personal and Panini handlers, players seemed jovial and engaged in the process. They may be rookies, but these guys are already veterans when it comes to attending these events.

The best aspect of the event is the access given to breakers. While players are mingling and signing, breakers are opening products for their audience. I saw numerous instances where a breaker would pull a base or insert card of a player sitting in the room. Depending on circumstances, Panini reps would deliver these “common” cards to the player to sign for the breaker. Cooper Kupp even inscribed a card for a Rams fan, you’ll see it in the video.

Panini’s Rookie Closeout serves as more than an opportunity for Panini to help rookies “closeout” their autographs for 2017 products. It also gives players access to the community collecting these products. I saw many players interacting and sitting in with breakers. It was fun to see a player open a pack and comment on the cards while answering questions from the audience. Often, a rookie would pull a card from a veteran on their team and express reverence for that player’s guidance during their rookie season.

Be sure to keep an eye on the Panini Blog for events like this in the future. If you’re a collector who loves online case breaks, this is a unique way to interact with players and possibly pick up a special autograph for your personal collection. Fans and collectors have a lot to look forward to with Panini’s high-end NFL releases this Spring. When you see the on-card autographs from these sets, there’s a good chance they came from the 2018 Rookie Closeout.

Many thanks to Tracy Hackler and Scott Prusha from Panini for the access. Thank you to breakers: Cardsmith’s Breaks, Ultimate Box Breaks and KT Authentics.


2018 Rookie Closeout Helps Panini Secure High-End Autographs – Image Gallery

James Gale