Topps Loses Football

What is going on in this hobby?

So far in 2009 we have seen Topps & Upper Deck lose the NBA for a Panini America exclusive, Upper Deck lose baseball for a Topps exclusive, and now Topps loses the NFL.

While I am distraught over Topps losing basketball after the amazing Murad basketball release early this year, I am hopeful that Panini can take over that license and keep collectors more than satisfied.

I don’t feel the same way about football, however. While Upper Deck is still king when it comes to NFL trading cards, Topps still has the greatest parallel technology of all-time, the Refractor.

While Panini has some decent parallels, Upper Deck still cannot compete in this department. Say what you will, Topps Chrome & Finest are so beloved because even if your autograph is a dud, there is always a nice set of parallels to save you.

Another question has to be how Topps will survive financially in 2010 now that they have lost both the basketball and football license. Will baseball and mixed martial arts be enough? Will they seek out an alternative sport to produce cards for?

How do you feel about the latest breaking news?

Topps Goes Bye Bye



  1. Im going to miss the Chromes. Sad day there.

    Either way, any time you take variety away in this industry, we lose out. All three had just as much reason to be there, no reason to cut them.

  2. There is no “exclusive” on Chrome OR Refractor technology.
    Upper Deck or Panini could do it if they wanted to.

  3. Don’t really care about football (cards), but the exclusive contract thing is getting out of hand. Topps isn’t always the innocent victim though. They know it’s a business.

  4. Mario, 2 releases in one year doesn’t constitute flooded. Just because the same company released the product in a “series 1” and “series 2” format doesn’t mean it’s reached it’s saturation point.

    If we get 15 releases a year, maybe that’s flooded, but 2? that’s just funny. Topps could release a series for every UFC main event without changing a thing about the cards other than the photos, and I bet we still woudln’t be saturated.

  5. I thought it was too much but that is just an opinion.

    I know with the license they have to make as much money from it as they can.

    They also released two American Heritage products as well. Again, another one I didn’t think needed two in a year.

  6. I think that Topps and/or Upper Deck should make Olympic themed sets. That could fill the void left by losing a license. Especially during an Olympic year (or gearing up for one) there could be a lot of upside there and I would think the majority of Olympic athletes would not be too expensive to have sign autographs.

  7. I don’t really care that much. I haven’t bought football cards since ProSet was still around.

    I will be interested to see what this means for Topps now that baseball is their only major sports license.

  8. It seems that each card manufacturer will now have to live like a farm–budget themselves seasonally to a much greater degree. Topps will have to float MLB revenues year-round, now that they’ve three of the “big four”, but have an exclusive for the remainder.

    This may also kill eTopps outright. NFL has been the best, most active, and profitable regular issue from them for years, and they are much more tied to the seasonal aspects of the big four sports. What’s going to make people go to eTopps from November until April if they can’t make NFL cards?

  9. Wow

    Thats shocking!

    Topps Chrome gets my vote for retail product of the year. Its a great for all ages to collect, and very affordable. Its also one of the few retail products worth spending money on these days as well.

    Wally World Will Never Be The Same. 😦

  10. Some how I think this may lead to some consolidation or possible take over of one company by another. Something like a Topps/Panini or Topps/Upper Deck brand/company. Maybe this exclusiveness will lead to better products or maybe not. Maybe Topps will sign a exclusive deals with individual players. All they need to do to stay alive is sign about 100-150 players (there are about 1600 NFL players but only about 50 or so really matter in card collecting) and get NFL properties agreement and they can churn out small sets.

    However, it is definitely a dark day, Topps has put out NFL/AFL sets for over 55 years. This is a huge. While they no longer include o-lineman, kickers, and only have a few defense players in there sets, it was always fun to see what 400 players would be getting a football card in a certain year. It was not like baseball where almost every player on the roster would get a card. They will be surely missed.

  11. To answer the question what is wrong with the hobby, The people in charge have no fucking clue. Everyone wants feedback on how to improve their company, but in the end the collectors get screwed. Topps chrome football is the pinnicle of football products but that means nothing to the license givers, all they care about is money, money money money moneyyyyyyyyyyy.

  12. i’m disappointed – topps christmas factory sets is the only football I collect.

    I don’t know yet if I”ll call it good for football or just collect UD football flagship base set starting next season.

  13. This sucks mule cock – I just got back into football, and love Topps/Bowman Chrome and Finest. The only wax I’ve bought over the past six months has been Topps football related (aside from a couple SPA). Not happy at all.

  14. I wouldn’t be surprised if this story hits mainstream news. Topps football is almost as “American” as Topps baseball cards. Definitely a sad day for everyone who collects Topps every year.

    Hopefully Topps gets hockey now.

  15. It’ll be interesting to see who can survive on just one or two sports. Do you think either Topps or UD will go after the license for World Cup cards next year? Panini’s efforts were pretty weak in 1998, 2002, and 2006.

  16. They can’t survive with just baseball, MMA and WWE. I would love to see them go the Olympic route or even get into boxing, golf, tennis, whatever, to see more refractors out there. Let’s hope they get back into hockey.

  17. I love free market capitalism and the more competition, but this is karma for both UD and Topps for whining about Donruss back in ’04. ….bring back Fleer!

  18. I am sad to hear this. When I went to my local card shop this weekend, I only bought two packs. Topps Chrome 2009 football was my choice.

  19. Look at all of the Redemption problems Topps is having. Look at all the customer service issues that have been rising steadily and a continue to go up. Look at how they continuously change what you supposed to get ( IE: Paterno autos on the sell sheet but yet not in the product). They have multiple lawsuits filed against them because they can’t even pay the athletes for their autographs. Perhaps if Topps was a little bit more open to the people in the hobby and not so god damned worried with greed and money then perhaps they wouldn’t lose the license. Perhaps if they would actually give you some value in their products instead of putting a damn scouts autograph in a pack of cards or putting three of the same scrub players autograph in the box. Yes Topps did produce some very nice cards with the Chrome Technology. Yes they did do good with Finest at times. However sometimes a change is necessary in order to bring back a demand for it. Perhaps a little time off can get them refocus on making a product that is ten times better than before. Perhaps it will give them time to make their “business” better for the hobby and the consumer.

  20. I think I am about done with the “hobby”. One of the reasons that I liked to collect was to have a complete run of seasons. While football was not my # 1 sport, I still picked up the Topps set every year. No need to worry about that anymore. The sad part is that I don’t think any of the companies will be able to survive on a single license. I always scoffed at the gloom and doom about the hobby dying, but I think it is very likely that there will not be be a national manufacturer of sports trading cards within the next five years. There just isn’t a market for it and the companies and leagues continue to make short-sighted decisions that mirror many failed industries and corporations of the past.

  21. I would say the usual “the hobby is dying” comment, but this is just another nail in the coffin. Within the next year or two, either Topps or Upper Deck will be gone. The “this hobby is better than ever” crowd should wake up and smell the roses!

  22. I admit I have always liked UD products the best, but this is BS. Clear and simple BS. Players, Inc. has severely disappointed me on this one.

  23. A part of the allure of the sports card market is brand consistency. There are collectors that focus on just one brand, or just one team for that brand. Considering Topps has been doing this for 55 years, this is a major disappointment and a poor decision on the part of the NFL players association. Upper Deck’s customer service is terrible. The only error that Topps appeared to make as to football was reusing the baseball design for the base set. I am sure that the NFL did not enjoy playing second fiddle to MLB.

    A terrrible decision. Thanks to WaxHeaven and Beckett for publicizing this.

  24. LIke I said on the Beckett post:

    Instead of trimming the tree evenly to inspire new growth (by limiting the number of products by each company), the licensing people continue lopping off one or two big branches and leaving the other ones to keep going in the same direction and we’re left with the same overgrown and uglier tree…

  25. This is unbelieveable. I guess 55 years of history meant nothing to Players, Inc. Can Topps survive with just one of the big four sports licenses? Has anyone heard if Topps will get back into hockey? I echo the fears of some of the previous comments. Will Topps even be in business in five years?

  26. Maybe Karma is real. Topps probably feels like Upper Deck did when Baseball pulled the plug. You reap what you sow and this “hobby” is collateral damage in this dogfight.

  27. wtf!?
    This dosn’t make sense to me at all.
    If anyone should lose their license in the NFL it should be Panini.
    Their card design has been half-assed.

  28. From 1970-1981, Topps did not have an agreement with NFL properties so no NFL logo’s appeared on Topps Football cardS. Between, I think from 1976 to 1988, Fleer owned the license to NFL Logo so you had Fleer NFL action cards with no mention of the players on the card. In 1992, players such as Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Lawrence Taylor, Deion Sanders and Brett Farve somehow opted out of the players associations agreement with the card company. If you recall, these players did not appear in Upper Deck, Fleer and Topps brands (They later appeared in update sets for UD and Topps as some sore of agreement was worked out with them).

    It is possible that Topps could strike a deal with NFL properties and acquire the rights to the logo’s and then individually sign top players and rookies. Could you imagine 2010 UD and Panini football cards without Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Tim Tebow in their sets.

  29. The big four sports really are the only ones that have any gravity or sustaining power for major trading card companies to stay in business. At a macro level, regarding other sports (or topics)—nobody cares.

    This goes for soccer, boxing, poker, WNBA, indoor football, MMA, and even WWE. Let’s ask InkWorks if non-sport / celebrity / entertainment subjects are lucrative. Oh, that’s right, we can’t.

    Sure, there’s room to make incremental money outside of the big four, but those are more like financial brackets or reinforcements to the actual table legs of major sports that hold up a card company. Topps is down to one leg, and each of the other two are down to two legs.

    As a guy who actually still manages to spend some money (but still <$150/year) on MLS and other soccer card products, I'm perpetually surprised that Upper Deck keeps making an MLS set, year after year. It's like they actually get paid by the league to make cards (like a government subsidy) rather than paying MLS for the “privilege” of making pro soccer cards.

    I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but there are times where people in influential positions make efforts to encourage movement and direction in a particular market. (Hi. My name is Enron.)

    Historically, card licensing revenue has been a massive contributor to player union coffers. I wouldn’t be surprised by some form of mild-grade agreement among the various unions to press for license exclusivity, which in turn applies pressure to Topps/UD/Panini to explore M&A activity for their own survival.

    It is much easier to demand (and get) your terms from a single provider, than to manage several competing interests with the same license. Just look at the NFL and EA, and their relationship with the Madden franchise.

    The real surprise so far is not hearing a single peep from Topps’ owner, Eisner’s Tornante Group, about the demise of NFLPA licensing.

    He buys the company two years ago for nine figures, and within the last year the value of that company is gutted by the NBA and NFL unilaterally removing major revenue-generating licenses. If it were me, I would be livid.

    Maybe Topps just doesn’t matter that much to him/them.

    Maybe they see it as the opportunity to expand on their purchase of Topps by acquiring or merging with UD and / or Panini, and then they’d really own something with all the licenses in hand.

    Who knows.

  30. John,
    Actually, the NFLPA rules are different now and players may not enter any licnesing deal that involves more than 3 players without NFLPA group licensing.
    Basically, the Topps grandfather clause in baseball doesnt exist in football.

  31. Sorry but you are wrong on soccer with Topps. Topps sold 80 Million Packs at $75cents retail in the UK on Soccer. The new series launced 3 weeks ago and has allready sold 20million plus packs and is on course to sell more than last years. Its the same in Germany, they sold 30million+ packs as well. They just dont need to make money in the US, they have it rolling in from other countries. Panini is hands down the most successfull publisher of cards and stickers worldwide, they wanted a foothold in the USA so they bought Donruss. Whos running it, an english guy who was in thier UK office, and frankly making some smart decisions.
    Topps are making decisions on thier bottom line, and the fact that soccer and wwe is earning them way more money WORLDWIDE by a factor of 5 to 10 than and of the main sports in the US.

  32. Topps will be fine, they have the baseball licence, but you have to remember they have other outlets. Entertainment, GPK, and the vault. Cards will be around longer than what people are predicting, you just have to collect what you want, in 2010 it’s going to be a crazy collecting year, but each company will have something the collectors want.

  33. I have to say that I am very disappointed in Topps for making no statement in this regard. Fifty five years of football card legacy and walking away without even a “thank you” to your prior supporters or a “we intend to focus our energies on great baseball card products”? I realize that many of the Topps employees may be younger personnel without much personal knowledge of this football card legacy, but a number of your customers do have this legacy and you need to reach out to them. I have collected every Cleveland Browns Topps base card from 1955 through 2009 … and you have nothing to say at all, not even a “thanks for supporting us” through the years?

    In this era of communication, I just don’t get the lack of public relations and customer service offered by either Topps or Upper Deck. WE ARE BUYING THE CLOSEST THING WE CAN GET TO A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PLAYERS, LEAGUES AND MANUFACTURERS, NOT JUST A PIECE OF CARDBOARD! If we wanted just cardboard, we could go to our local grocery store and ask for the empty juice box to cut into little squares. WAKE UP FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

  34. Woah, calm down. Let’s not get so emotional. This is a fragile time for many economies around the world. Give it a few years and things will settle down again. Maybe Topps will come back with football, and maybe it won’t. Business is business, and in the end no one owes you an apology. I spend several thousands of dollars a year on cards and have done so for many years. Am I complaining? No. I’ll find something that I like, or I won’t. Either way, there is more to life than cards. I’ve got a healthy coin collection and silver bullion. There’s always something to collect and appreciate.

    And to Slowdog who posted “WE ARE BUYING THE CLOSEST THING WE CAN GET TO A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PLAYERS, LEAGUES AND MANUFACTURERS, NOT JUST A PIECE OF CARDBOARD!”… I’m picuring you dressing up your cards and talking to them. It’s not healthy.

  35. Topps Football and Topps Chrome football was all I ever collected, so much for valuing the collector, so now what set do I collect in order to keep my sets since 58 going?

  36. Topps needs to go… I mean how many products can you put out in one year??? Every time I turn around they’re producing another product. I love refractors, probably my favorite cards of all time, but maybe we can thin the herd and help the hobby because when star rookies have 100 rookies and parallels there’s a problem.

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