When it comes to brand recognition, not too many products can top Playoff Contenders Football. Its autographed rookie cards may not be the rarest on the market, but they have a loyal following and have a history of commanding nice values for the top players.
The 2007 release should be no exception, with Rookie Tickets combining with other autographed cards to ensure 24-pack hobby boxes have four signed cards on average. Each five-card pack has a suggested price of $6.
Base Cards and Parallels
For years, Playoff Contenders has effectively used a ticket theme, and that is again the case for the 2007 set. The common cards are called Season Tickets and proudly display the team colors of the pictured player, along with information on the team's home stadium and player info that looks like seat info on a real ticket.
Props go to Donruss for making sure the 100 veterans are mostly up-to-date - which they should be for a late-season release - with Randy Moss in his Pats uni, a base card of the Jags' David Garrard, etc. Parallels are also mercifully kept to a minimum, with only Playoff Tickets numbered to 199 (rookies to 99) and 1-of-1 Championship Tickets, some of which are autographed.
The star attractions, as usual, are the signed Rookie Tickets, this year going 125 strong. That makes top names like Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson relatively tough pulls, though often cards of late bloomers from this set get red hot a few years later. Donruss has numbered them in the past but usually chooses not to, which is the case this season.
Except for the autographed sticker, the Rookie Tickets look just like the commons, but that's a plus this season. The team color layout is attractive and the photos make the players look like they are coming right off the card.
A random hobby box I opened to review produced a full set of commons, plus a Playoff Ticket Randy Moss. Four Rookie Tickets were also in store, though it was a fairly weak bunch led by Dolphins back Lorenzo Booker.
Contenders has a strong stable of returning inserts, and while they're nothing too special in terms of rarity or player selection, they are well-made and look fine. They also fit in nicely with the set's theme, with sets like Rookie of the Year Contenders, MVP Contenders and Legendary Contenders needing little explanation.
There's also Round Numbers, featuring two players taken in the same round of the NFL Draft, as well as Draft Class and Rookie Roll Call, both of which focus on 2007 newcomers. Donruss deserves more kudos for simplifying the parallel scheme for these inserts too: regular cards are numbered to 1000, Gold to 250 and Black to 100 for all inserts.
Donruss suggests that inserts and parallels should total six per box, and (including the Moss Playoff Ticket) that's exactly what I found thanks to a single card from every insert set except for Draft Class.
Rookie Tickets get most of the spotlight, but Contenders has some other signed cards that aren't too shabby. Specifically, all of the inserts in the section above can be found in autographed versions.
Numbering for the various autos is 100 or less for Legendary Contenders, 50 or less for Rookie of the Year and MVP Contenders and 25 or less for all others.
The Last Word
Opening a box of Playoff Contenders is kind of like a thrill ride in cardboard form that has you looking ahead to the next autographed card. That's not to say that the rest of the cards should be ignored though, as even the common cards look great this year.
Like actual thrill rides, not every trip will be the same, and it can be an uphill climb at times to find the bigger names. Inevitably though, an NFL player who made his debut several years ago will start to blossom and send collectors scurrying for his Rookie Tickets, so the large batch of rookies this season could turn out to be a strength.
That makes the 2007 version of Playoff Contenders worth the ride once again. Donruss has a good thing going with this brand and sticks to the formula that's made it a success.