Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hail Mary On Rookie Signature Sets

In the earlier part of this decade, Playoff contenders gave birth to an ugly, gruesome monster. This monster was born because they felt that just because you werent drafted by a team in the first round, does not mean that you dont deserve an auto card. A certain card made this practice legitimate, and it has transferred over to just about every single release that is put out each year.

Tom Brady was drafted by a struggling Patriots team in the 6th round of the 2000 draft. Brady was coming out of a pro-style offense at Michigan, so he definitely had the tools to succeed in a very tough league. The Patriots had not won the division in 3 years, and Bledsoe was their man since he was the #1 pick in the draft back in like 1856. Brady starts when Bledsoe goes down, and the rest is history.

Collectors wanted, of course, to pick up every single Brady card issue as soon as the ball sailed through the uprights on their first SB win, but there were very few auto rookie cards due to his draft status. One was a Playoff Contenders Auto Rookie Ticket, and there were maybe two to three others from non-important sets. Immediately, the Ticket auto started selling for close to 1000 dollars on eBay, and we all know what happened in 2007.

A similar thing happened with a guy you may be familiar with, Tony Romo, who's draft status was very uncertain coming out of the 2002 college season. Coming from Eastern Illinois, he went undrafted, but Contenders and now SP Authentic didnt hesitate to get a bunch of his cards signed for the sets. Those cards are now selling for hundreds.

Now, in an era where autos are 2-4 per box in products that cost less than 80 dollars, manufacturers and collectors are figuring that its okay to fill a product with hundreds of these types of cards because guys like Romo and Brady have made their hobby name off of them. I know that autos are becoming more and more expensive to put in the products, but I still think its a really shitty thing to get Josh Johnson or Allen Patrick as my box hit auto. Guys that will be career third stringers are now the focus of the product rather than the filler, look at what Contenders has become if you need proof. In fact, the rookie premiere had a record number of late round picks invited, and that scared me from the beginning - especially when they will be the box hit in Exquisite and National Treasures.

Listen, its fine when we have one or two products where you know that they are focusing on these types of autographs, but lets refrain from turning EVERY SINGLE product into a late round bonanza. I dont think people understand that the reason that Brady's contenders was so cool was because there was no other options. Contenders was it. Now with just about every product producing the crap, even NT and Exquisite, its not going to be the same.

"Wait, I just paid how much for this box, and my hit is Andre Caldwell?"

Im not saying that I expect Donruss Threads to produce a Matt Ryan Letter every box, but I think its reasonable to expect that 5-7th round picks and undrafted free agents to not be as prominent on the checklist as they are. Its like the manufacturers are using lightning strikes like Brady and Romo as a way to justify my John Carlson hit, because you know, he may become a monster!!11!


  1. Well said. The huge focus on rookies that I've never heard of (especially the non first round picks) is a big reason why I stay away from football cards.

  2. It's the same thing with baseball. I opened 3 boxes of Topps Finest this year because I love the shiny on-card autos. I got auto rookies of: Joe Koshansky, Brandon jones, Steve Pearce, and Josh Anderson.

    Unfortunately, they have to fill the set with guys who they can get to sign a lot of cards.

    I don't think people would pay $150 for a box of Finest with only 1 guranteed auto.

    That seems to be the way it goes with most products, even high-end.