Every year, it seems like Press Pass is racing its competition to see who can be the first to provide collectors with autographs and jersey cards of the latest batch of incoming NFL talent. Press Pass Football released first in 2007, serving up the first widely available licensed cards of JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn and Adrian Peterson, just to name a few.
Hobby boxes of 2007 Press Pass Football hold 28 packs of four cards each. With autographs seeded 1:7 packs, collectors can expect four signed cards per box on average. Retail boxes have 24 packs and much longer odds for autographs and memorabilia cards.
Base Cards and Inserts
Press Pass Football's base set often inspires a feeling of deja vu, as it doesn't seem to change much from year to year. The 2007 design doesn't break much new ground, but it's clear that a lot more thought went into this season's much larger base set.
A number of new subsets were added to the mix this year, providing new opportunities to showcase this draft class. Teammates cards focus on two players from the same school who should get picked in 2007, while NCAA Leaders and Trophy Club look back on accomplishments from the college game. All Americans is self-explanatory, and Sophomore Sensations gives a little more love to Reggie Bush, Vince Young and other 2006 rookies, with photos taken from their college days.
All of the subsets are welcome additions that should make the product that much more interesting to college football collectors. Old favorite Power Picks also returns for cards 101 through 105, short-printed as in years past.
All told, my review box produced 96 of the 105 base cards (including two of the five Power Picks) with only one duplicate. I also found two parallels: a Reflectors Charles Johnson numbered 489/500 and a Reflectors Proof Edition NCAA Leaders Ahmad Bradshaw numbered 095/100.
Press Pass simplified the rest of its base brand, slimming down to a lone regular insert set. Primetime Players are foil cards that fall 1:4 packs and shine the spotlight on some of the college game's top players; the About.com review box contained the expected seven.
The new base cards are nice, but the autographs remain the big draw here. Over 70 NFL hopefuls grabbed pens for Press Pass Signings, which once again offers up autographs in three levels: Bronze (not numbered), Silver (numbered to 200 or less) and Gold (numbered to 100 or less).
Press Pass also had players sign a limited number of cards in either red ink or with their nicknames. Print runs aren't provided for these variations, though the company sometimes announces their quantities at a later date.
The last batch of autographs are the Power Pick Autographs, which the packaging calls a signed version of the Power Pick subset, but is actually a bit more as it includes 11 different players. These are numbered to 250 or less - Calvin Johnson and Troy Smith signed only 25 each.
I found four Press Pass Signings cards in my sample box: Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis Bronze), Houston QB Kevin Kolb and Notre Dame WR Rhema McKnight (Silver) and a red ink variation for Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor.
I should mention that they are all on-card signatures, which is rare these days. My lone bit of constructive criticism concerns the unnumbered Bronze autographs.
It's no secret to experienced collectors that some of the bigger names sign less cards than players expected to go later in the draft. By not numbering the largest tier of autographs, it may frustrate beginners who don't know the odds of pulling, say, Matt Moore are a lot better than finding Adrian Peterson.
It's not a huge deal, but it is something Press Pass may want to consider in the future.
Kudos should also go to Press Pass for stepping up its effort on the memorabilia card front, as the player selection in previous game-worn inserts didn't always inspire excitement. This year's Gridiron Gamers cards have game-worn swatches from several big names - like Russell, Quinn, LSU WR Dwayne Bowe and USC WR Dwayne Jarrett - and even 2006 rookie sensation Reggie Bush.
A slightly tough pull at 1:72 packs, the jersey cards are all numbered to 299 or less. My review box beat the odds with a Gridiron Gamers card of Cal running back Marshawn Lynch numbered 083/275.
The Last Word
By sticking with what works from previous years and making an effort to improve in other areas, 2007 Press Pass Football is following a recipe for success. Even though experts don't think this year's draft will quite have the star power of 2006, collectors shouldn't mind too much as they enjoy the expanded base set, hard-signed cards from plenty of prospects and the occasional college jersey card.
Even better, Press Pass has been able to offer its signature draft picks brand without raising the price too much rom last year. That makes this a good buy for anyone who can't even wait until the summer for their first football card fix of 2007.