Topps Ups the Ante


Since the advent of the “relic” card, manufacturers have been trying to find new things to cut up and stuff between two pieces of card stock. It started with basic squares of plain jersey, ramped up to multi-color swatches, and evolved into letter and logo patches of massive size. Companies have also gotten creative with the source of those relics by cutting up practice jerseys, game-used jerseys, “player worn” jerseys, pants (although it never stated what PART of the pants), and even laundry tags, which many collectors quipped were pulled right off of freshly worn jock straps.

But it didn’t stop with things worn by players. Several companies have bought and cut up anything and everything from old military photos, cancelled checks, and even other cards to stuff into cut auto cards, although obviously the emphasis is more on the signature than the fact that “this is a check personally used by Joe DiMaggio to pay his electric bill and is guaranteed to be authentic.” Topps added real hairs into their Allen & Ginter DNA relics, again leading to rather comical assumptions by collectors. Upper Deck started slabbing real bugs in their Goodwin Champions Entomology sets.

And then today, Topps showed us this photo:

Yes. You are seeing that correctly. An authentic fight-used mouth piece. In a card.

Part of me thinks this is a very cool and ingenuitive. There is no mystery surrounding the relic and its source. The teeth imprints take that away. But another part of me thinks is a tad…well…gross. Yes, collectors have joked about the jock strap tags and the pubic DNA, but there’s just no getting around a mouth piece. At least there isn’t a lost tooth lodged in it.

To see more photos of these “Grill Gear” cards, you can view the gallery on Topps’ Facebook page here.
Topps UFC goes live today.

What do you guys think? Is this totally awesome and a great idea, or did Topps go a bit too far in bringing us as close as possible to our favorite athletes?




Here at First and Goal, we have very important and pressing announcement to make:



OMG!!! Allen & Ginter!

That is all. You may now return to your previously scheduled activities.

For those of you who are curious, yes, this bad boy is ready and raring to go for the annual Gint-a-Cuffs competition. Last year, I had to do a faux Gint-a-Cuffs entry because I had missed the entry deadline (my inability to make quick decisions led me to buying a box about a month or two later than everyone else). But this year, I’m in. In fact, the box is all ripped and mostly written up, I just need to scan everything and wait for the official scoring rules.

You can check in on all of the Gint-a-Cuffs IV action here.

Airbrushed Goodness


PhotoShop is pretty awesome. I think we all know this. Here is just one more shining example.

Anyone who has even the slightest interest in football, or perhaps even sports in general, knows all about Peyton Manning signing with the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow’s subsequent trade to the New York Jets. What some may not realize is how that created a potential problem for card sets. Most collectors hate the red-jersey-from-summer-mini-camp photographs on their cards. A good number dislike the player-in-his-former-jersey-but-with-new-team-card-logo-and-small-“Traded”-notation method. So what else can be done?


Topps has announced that these two high-profile quarterbacks will be shown in their new team jerseys in the company’s first 2012 football release, 2012 Bowman. There are even mock images available already:

Manning and Tebow in their new, albeit airbrushed, unis

Hopefully this example, along with a relatively normal off-season (compared to last season’s labor lock-out debacle), will lead to a much improved image bank for the upcoming football release calendar. Last year was just a bit irksome with so many draft combine and “incorrect” team logos due to everything being slammed into about two weeks before the season started.

This is a good start to 2012.

Pryor to be Paid for Autos


Topps has sent out the following bulletin:

Topps announces that Ohio State star and recent Oakland Raiders signee Terrelle Pryor has signed a deal to ink his signature on the company’s trading cards.

Pryor will appear as an autograph subject in Topps products starting with 2011 Bowman Sterling Football.

Didn’t I hear something about Mr. Pryor getting paid for his autographs before…?

Topps is Officially Back in Football!


This just came across the news release wire directly from Topps. After refusing to renew its license with Upper Deck recently, the NFL and NFL PLAYERS reconsidered its refusal to renew Topps’ license back in November. Panini no longer has an exclusive contract and football collectors will have some additional variety in 2010 than was feared just weeks ago. Here is the official press release:


Multi-Year Deal Begins with the 2010 NFL Season and the Release of Topps Football

New York, April 29, 2010 – The Topps Company, a leading creator and marketer of sports cards, today announced a multi-year trading card licensing agreement with the National Football League and NFL PLAYERS (the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA). This deal will allow Topps to continue its strong history of offering collectors the industry’s most sought-after football cards.

“We are excited to continue our deep, long standing partnership with the NFL and the NFLPA,” said Ryan O’Hara, CEO of The Topps Company. “Topps will bring innovative, exciting and fun products to the marketplace to serve consumers and customers well.”

“For more than a half century, football fans have been able to connect with the NFL and their favorite players through Topps football cards,” said Leo Kane VP of consumer products at the NFL. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Topps, bringing our fans collectibles for many years to come.”

“Topps has been instrumental in establishing the player-fan connection for more than 50 years,” said Keith Gordon, President of NFL PLAYERS. “We’re excited about the direction Topps is headed and are eager to see new products that will further enable football collectors to connect with our players.”

Topps is set to unveil its first product of the season, Topps Football, just prior to the start of the 2010 NFL season. “This year’s Topps Football will be our best ever as it will be loaded with amazing content and truly deliver NFL rookies and stars,“ said Warren Friss, Topps’ GM of Sports and Entertainment. “It will also include a special Gridiron Giveaway promotion, which will allow collectors to unlock vintage Topps football cards and win various football prizes.”

2010 Topps Drew Brees
Click image for a full-sized mock-up

Welcome back, Topps. I am looking forward to Topps and Topps Chrome. Don’t disappoint me…

Seeing Double


Any time that I get a new stash of Emmitt cards — a lot of which have recently come from Catch22 — I always look through each one, appreciating the various design elements, photographs, special effects (holograms, foil stamping, refractor), stats on the back, etc. Every now and then, I get a feeling of déjà vu as I do this. Sometimes it turns out to be a parallel I didn’t know about or a double I didn’t realize I already had. But sometimes, I can’t find any real reason why I had that feeling.

This happened again recently as I was uploading and organizing a large batch of scans for my Emmitt Smith Collection website (currently undergoing a huge renovation behind the scenes). There was one card I just knew looked vaguely familiar. Well, after a little hunt and peck action, I found my answer. Check out these two cards, produced 10 years apart by The Upper Deck Company:

1999 Upper Deck MVP2009 Upper Deck Heroes
1999 Upper Deck MVP               2009 Upper Deck Heroes

Unless I am still not seeing straight, that sure looks like the same photo of Emmitt on both cards. It looks like they just cropped, resized, and lightened the image from the 1999 card for the 2009 card. As more and more cards of Emmitt are produced after his retirement, it will be interesting to see how many more of these pop up, along with any others in my collection already that I just haven’t noticed yet. I also pointed out a similar thing from The Topps Company, Inc. way back in the third post I ever wrote here. I was quite annoyed at that time, but now I just accept the fact that it’s going to happen, especially since Emmitt retired 5 years ago after wearing a Cardinals jersey for a few years. It doesn’t mean that I love the 2007 Topps Co-Signers or 2009 Upper Deck Heroes cards any less. It’s now rather amusing to see how many more examples I can find.

Bon Voyage, Topps


I tell you what, fall asleep at the wheel (or take a night off to spend quiet time with the wife), and you miss out on some big news. By now, I’m sure you’ve already heard about the tragic news from other, more reliable sources (even a shady one).

After all of the drama that unfolded early in 2009 with the NBA awarding Panini an exclusive license and then MLB following suit over the summer with Topps, I tried to convince myself that the NFL and Players, Inc., the official licensing body for the NFL Players Association, would not be dumb enough to do the same thing. Yesterday, it was announced that while they were not quite as dumb, they are trying awfully hard. Players, Inc. has announced that Topps will not receive a renewed license for football cards when its current contract expires in February.

We are not just losing amazing Chrome and Refractor technology (unless someone else figures out a way to step up to the plate). We are losing the longest running base set in the football Hobby. We are losing the most sought after rookie cards (Bowman). We are losing quality products at reasonable prices. We are losing choice. We are losing variety. We are losing Topps.


The single most recognizable brand in sports cards.

Gone from football.