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Bob D’Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.

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Collect call: 2012 Prestige Football

Posted Jul 3, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Jul 3, 2012 at 06:17 PM

Panini America’s first football product of 2012 is now in stores and hobby shops, and the Prestige Football set is not a bad debut.

There is some very sharp photography, and I like the design. It’s very structured, in a neat and orderly way. Liberal use of team colors makes the cards easy to identify, and a crop of new rookies in their team uniforms for the first time is certainly something to excite collectors.

A hobby box of Prestige costs slightly under $100. Each box contains 24 packs, with eight cards to a pack. Upon opening a hobby box, I noticed that an average pack contained six base cards, a rookie card and an insert.

In addition to hobby product, collectors also can purchase Prestige in retail packs (at $2.99 per pack), blaster boxes ($19.99) and value packs ($4.99) at stores like Target and Walmart.

If you are a set builder, expect to receive a good chunk of the set. A set consists of 200 base cards and 101 rookie cards. The odd numbered rookie card, No. 301, is for the Bucs’ Eric LeGrand, a last-minute addition and a very savvy move by Panini. LeGrand’s story is an inspiring one, and when I talked with the folks at Panini, they agreed that putting his card in the set was a natural. Good move.

The box I sampled had 139 of the 200 base cards and 25 of the 101 rookie cards. And no, I did not pull a LeGrand card.

Unlike other sets, you won’t find Hall of Famers in the set. Prestige is a set designed to showcase rookies and veteran stars. In most cases, player is wearing their new uniforms. That is not always the case. For example, the Vincent Jackson card was created in Bucs colors, but the photo of the wide receiver shows him in action in his Chargers uniform from last season. It’s not really a flaw, though.

Of all the inserts, the 14-card special Tim Tebow subset is the highlight. Panini advertises this on the outside of its hobby box, noting that the subset features “highlights of one of football’s most inspiring leaders.”

While I like the card I pulled from the hobby box I opened, it made me wonder if the Rocky Mountains were the backdrop, or if Panini was subliminally playing off Tebow’s religious beliefs. Tebow’s head is in the clouds, with glorious sun rays in the upper right-hand corner, and mountain peaks are depicted on the lower right-hand side of the card.

I have no objection to Tebow’s outward show of his faith. It’s real and genuine. But perhaps I was reading too much into the card design. Regardless, it looks nice.

Back to the inserts shortly. The sizzle cards in this set came in the form of two sticker autographs and two relic cards.

The autographs were from rookies: 49ers running back LaMichael James, numbered to 499; and Texans defensive tackle Jared Crick, numbered to 899. Both cards are autograph versions of the rookie cards numbered between 201 and 301.

I thought the relic cards were nicer, as both cards had generous swatches of uniform material. Interestingly, both cards depicted Jacksonville Jaguars players: a Team Foundations card showcased veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew and was numbered to 249; and a Prestigious Picks card of rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon was numbered to 299. The Blackmon card is nicer, as the game-used swatch is larger and more colorful. The gold foil surrounding it was a nice touch, too.

Of the remaining inserts, the one I found most intriguing was Draft City Destinations. There were three of these cards in the box I sampled. There is a feathered action shot of the player on the left. The right side of the card has a green sign that one might see on the interstate, with two mileage distances —  one from the school to the NFL draft headquarters in New York, and one from the player’s school to the site of the team that drafted him. For example, Bucs rookie Doug Martin’s card shows it is 2,488 miles from Boise, Idaho, to New York. And 2,629 miles from Boise to Tampa Bay.

There were three Tickets inserts, and my box had some big names—Robert Griffin III, Blackmon and Trent Richardson. While the photography was OK on this insert, the design seemed a bit clunky and cluttered.

Prestigious Picks is a card that relies on gold foil on the left-hand side, encasing that player’s team logo. There were four of those cards in the box I viewed. Other inserts: NFL Passport (three in the box); Stars of the NFL (four in the box), which are action shots of veteran players; League Leaders (one in the box), which pays tribute to the NFL’s statistical leaders from 2011;  Connections, a card the honors two teammates; and Extra Points, stamped with gold foil. There were three in the set of veteran players, with an additional three numbered cards—two numbered to 999, and a D’Qwell Jackson card numbered to 25.

While the inserts are not overwhelming, the base cards and rookies are slick and the relic cards are certainly handsome. It’s a good curtain-rising appearance for Panini’s 2012 football product.



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