Hobby Musings: 2018 football card season carries plenty of star power – With the NFL season already a few weeks in the books, we have been able to see some early action develop on the field and in the trading card market. With a loaded rookie class, there have already been some newcomers making hobby noise. Ready to meet the demand for this year’s rookie cardboard is Panini America. For more on what they are planning and looking out for this season, I had the chance to catch up with Panini’s Rob Springs. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: We could have a potentially historic rookie class with a lot of first-round QBs and some other big-name specialty players. Out of all of them though, who do you think will have the biggest impact on the football card market this year?
RS: It would have to be one of the two New York rookies, either Sam Darnold or Saquon Barkley. I’m going to lean towards Saquon based on his early selling activity before he has even hit the field.
KS: Who’s an under-the-radar rookie you think could make a big hobby impact this season?
RS: I think Michael Gallup will have a large impact on the Cowboys as the season goes on, and thus, be an impact hobby rookie. If you want to go really deep, keep an eye on Richie James for the 49ers.
KS: Which veteran player do you think could be poised for a breakout year in trading cards?
RS: Tyreek Hill. Having a QB that can throw that far combined with his lighting fast speed should equal a lot of big time, highlight-worthy plays which catch the attention of the hobby.
KS: As we sit here today, who is the top player in the football card market?
RS: It’s still Tom Brady. He outsells everyone, whether it’s autographs, parallels or memorabilia cards.
KS: The past few years have been pretty exceptional in the NFL card market thanks in large part to the high-end rookies. It’s the beginning of the season, but if things go well with the rookies this year, how do you think this football card year could stack up historically?
RS: It could easily be the best, since you have to take into account the type of market that we are currently in. But it goes far beyond just the top five quarterbacks and Saquon – the rest of the RB and the WR class are really, really solid. I think you will see more rookies put up bigger numbers overall, than ever before.
KS: Panini has had the NFL trading card exclusive for a few years now. If you had to pick, what do you think has been the company’s biggest triumph with the exclusive?
RS: I think we have done a good job with our FB product portfolio, finding a nice balance of old and new brands along with SRPs all along the pricing spectrum.
KS: On the flip side, what is something you would like to achieve with the exclusive in the future that you currently don’t do?
RS: I want to continue to expand and branch out on our autograph signers, looking for more current or retired players with very few and/or no autographs.
KS: In the near future, what are some of the football products collectors should be keeping an eye on?
RS: A new brand called Obsidian is slated to release on 11/21/18, which we are very excited about. I also think Contenders Optic will have a tremendous sophomore release this year, especially with the Tribute cards which will feature autographs from players like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger.
KS: What do you think is the most exciting new innovation Panini’s football cards will have in the coming year?
RS: I have been in this business long enough to know that we (the industry) have pretty much done everything you can do to a 2 ½ by 3 ½ size trading card. What we will continue to work on is improving our brands, coming up with new brands/insert concepts and making the best products we can.
KS: If you had to pick one football product in the coming year to recommend, which one would you pick?
RS: I’m going to go with Contenders. Due to this rookie class, this is going to be a box you probably want to grab early before the prices skyrocket (based on past history).
KS: Rookies are always front and center in the hobby. Even though we have a whole new class this year to get excited about, it’s never too early to look ahead to next year. Who are some rookies in the 2019 class you would advise collectors to start keeping an eye on now?
RS: Still very early, but Will Grier and Drew Lock are probably the best QB’s and I think Bryce Love from Stanford will end up the best RB. However, this can (and probably will) change as we find out underclassmen that declare.
For more Hobby Musings from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.
Hobby Musings: 2018 football card season carries plenty of star power
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