05 September 2014

2014 Football Comparisons

With last night's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, the NFL season is officially underway. It wasn't a great game for my office league fantasy football team, as my star wide receiver (Jordy Nelson) didn't do anything and my first-round draft pick (Eddie Lacy) exited with a concussion and will be out at least one game, and probably at least two. I drafted for depth at running back, but it's hard to win a league when your first pick goes down right off the bat.

I've been picking up some retail packs of some 2014 products, but I can't decide if I want to chase any football sets this year. I went after the 2013 Rookies & Stars set last year, but the Rookies portion of the set was so short-printed that I eventually gave up. I have been a little apathetic about baseball cards lately, so I've been branching out into some of my other interests in search of a spark. The three main candidates for set collecting around here are 2014 Rookies & Stars, 2014 Topps, and 2014 Score, mostly because that is what is available in quantity at local retail outlets.

First up is 2014 Panini Rookies & Stars, which is pretty well described in the name of the set. The base checklist is 200 cards. The first 100 cards are the biggest names from each team, with each team getting 3 or 4 cards. Usually that means the starting quarterback, the most popular running back, and a wide receiver or tight end. Teams with 4 cards or a pathetic offense might get a star defensive player, like J.J. Watt of the Texans or Richard Sherman of the Seahawks.

The next 100 cards are made up of the rookies from this year. That Johnny Manziel card is actually a photo variation I pulled from a pack, but there is no difference in the design of the card, he is just holding the football at a slightly different angle than on his 'real' base card.

I've bought a few of the big rack packs with 42 or 50 cards in them, and so I have nearly the whole Stars set already. The Rookies are short-printed, but I am not sure at what rate they fall. It seems like maybe you get somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 the number of Rookies in a pack as you do Stars. I'll probably wind up completing this set simply because I am so close already. I like the design of the cards okay. It's fairly simple, with my only real complaint being that there is no background action behind the players. I would like to see the playing field and other players in the photos.

This is the Topps offering for this year. I guess I like it okay, but it is awfully busy with the borders and the foil lines and whatnot. There is a decent mix of action photography in the set, with quite a few cards featuring players playing in rain or snow. The checklist is pretty big, with 440 cards in the base set. This allows for more players from each team, as well as team cards. I like to see a set that gives the defensive players and kickers some spotlight.

It's a much bigger checklist, but you can get almost two Hobby boxes of Topps Football for the same price as one Hobby box of Rookies & Stars because the price of the Rookies & Stars box is subsidizing four promised hits per box (with two of those being guaranteed autographs), while the Topps box just has one promised hit per box (autograph or relic).

I didn't have Peyton Manning or Johnny Manziel cards from 2014 Score, so Peyton's brother Eli will have to fill in for him and another rookie quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, will fill in for Manziel. This set kind of splits the difference between the base Topps set and the Rookies & Stars set. The first section of the base set is made up of 230 cards, and so each team gets a few more players featured than they do in Rookies & Stars, but probably a few less than in Topps. The second section is made up of the Hot 100, who get a little foil symbol and are mostly retreads of the 100 biggest stars from the first 230 cards. It's basically the Stars section of Rookies & Stars. The last 110 cards feature this year's rookies, mostly in photos altered or positioned to make their college uniforms as generic as possible. You basically get a lot of sideline shots of them with their helmets off.

There is decent photography, but I feel like it doesn't quite match up to the Topps set in that regard. That giant border section at the bottom really restricts the area left over for photos. It's an okay set, but in my mind it is probably a fair step below the other two offerings. The one main thing it has going for it is that it is cheap, which makes it a good product for me to open and distribute to my sons, who are not extremely brand-conscious about cards yet.

And that's a look at a few of this year's football card designs. I will probably finish out the Rookies & Stars set. Unless something else jumps out and grabs my fancy I may chase down the Topps base set as well. I don't have strong feelings either way about Score, except that it makes me feel a little nostalgia for the card designs of the early 90's era. It really feels like it comes out of that era, like an old Pro Set or Score set, although looking at the Google machine it appears that those past sets were a lot more colorful than this is.


Left: "I know your attention to detail helps us win games and all, Peyton, but is it really necessary to inspect our gloves after every play?"
Right: This Photoshopped uniform is ridiculous. It is rare that I laugh when opening a pack of cards, but this Jared Allen hack job did it to me.
I had to fit at least one more Manning card in here, and I also wanted to show off one of the better traits of the Topps set, the team cards. They usually have nice photos with several members from the featured team interacting in some way.

I also needed some way to fit that Jared Allen card in, because that Photoshopped uniform is just awful. The background appears to be in Minnesota's stadium, and the big number on his jersey looks ridiculous. It looks even worse in person. Honestly, if you can't get a picture of him in his new uniform, just add some text over on the side that says, "Signed with Chicago - xx/xx/2014."

1 comment:

  1. I'll take Topps over Panini designs any day of the week. I'm usually a huge fan of Score's base card design... but this year they look like Sage Hit or something.