Starting this past month, Upper Deck took over the exclusive license for all NCAA related likenesses and images. This meant that sets like Press Pass and SAGE were left without a way to picture the players in their uniforms or helmets. What you may not know is that sets like Prestige and Elite will also have to adjust pretty drastically, and that’s where things get pretty hairy.
As we have seen from previews recently, the Prestige rookie cards look god awful. When I say god awful, I mean that I would rather look at a bloody corpse in some cases. The design is terrible, the horizontal orientation makes the cards look weird, and the final product looks like it was built with the auto in mind. The right half of the card looks way too wide open, like there should be a sticker there, but someone forgot to put it on. Then your eye gets to the player picture and im sure that many of you had a "WTF?" moment just like I did.
It would be one thing if this were baseball or basketball, because for those sports, the player's likeness centers around their face, because that is the way we see them on the field. The uniform is secondary, and many baseball and basketball players have made lots of money on that fact alone. In football, many player's persona centers around their helmet and uniform, because that is the way the fans get to see them so much of the time. When cards feature players up close and personal, they get a much different reaction due to the way that people expect to see their favorite players. I couldn’t tell you what Ndamukong Suh looks like without his helmet on, but if I saw him in full uniform, I could point him out in a crowd.
When you also factor in that Donruss Elite is going to have to find a similar workaround, it becomes more and more likely that a lot of collectors are not going to like the way the cards look. If you don’t believe me, compare the cards from the Press Pass set that was out before the exclusive with the one that was released after. Its no comparison, especially when considering the look of the card.
Upper Deck may have made a dent in the first few releases of the year, but I wouldn’t say that it is something so big that people wont be able to get over it. For people like me, having helmet-less players on the cards is an immediate deal breaker, but not everyone is like that. Regardless, it has forced Panini to switch up their game, and so far, the results have been horrid. Point made, Upper Deck. Point made.