First Look: 2014 Panini Contenders Football



By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Media

Few products in the trading card world have as dedicated a following as the annual Contenders offering from Panini America. Each year, it delivers some of the most coveted rookie cards to football collectors and it is set to hit store shelves on January 7.

With an average of five autograph cards in every 24-pack box, there is plenty of potential for a good mix of first-year players, retired legends and today’s brightest stars. At least two of those will be signed on-card by one of the 40 participants from the 2014 NFL Rookie Premiere.

What else does 2014 Panini Contenders have to offer? Find out after the jump.


In a sales sheet provided by Panini, there were plenty of details of how much rookie content is packed inside Contenders and the most popular of the featured sets is sure to be the Rookie Tickets, which have long-standing support within the hobby. The autographed version of these cards will have parallels such as Playoff Tickets (#’d to 199), Championship Tickets (#’d to 99) and Cracked Ice Tickets (#’d to 22). Even scarcer will be the Super Bowl Tickets and Printing Plates which are one-of-ones.

The hard-signed rookie madness continues in the horizontal Rookie of the Year Contenders Auto RPS and Rookie Ink is also expected to be a hit due to strong player selection. The latter set will have a gold parallel numbered to 25 or less and a supremely scarce Holo Gold edition that is a one-of-one find.


Also revealed were the MVP Contenders Autos that boasts a 10-card checklist of players vying for the highest individual accolade (#d to 25 or less). Round Numbers will be produced in similar quantities, but the card pairs up two players that were drafted in the same round and Alma Mater Autographs will combine players that starred for the same school. Closing out the fun at this point are the Legendary Contenders, which is all about the game’s greatest talents from the past. These cards will be the scarcest of the announced autograph sets since they will be numbered to 10 copies or less.

Finally, one of the most enduring aspects of Contenders is the selection of non-memorabilia insert cards and each box is slated to hold two Rookie of the Year Contenders, two Draft Class, two Round Numbers, one MVP Contenders, one Legendary Contenders, two Touchdown Tandems plus two other insert or parallel cards.

Stephen Laroche is the editor of Beckett Basketball and Beckett Hockey magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at Follow him on Twitter @Stephen_Laroche.


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  1. Mike Pereira 10 December, 2014 at 20:56

    Probably the best Contenders design I’ve seen in a while. Just hope that the autos don’t look like a two year old just learning to write like they always do by this time of the year. And I agree with Larry, feel Panini is censoring alot of plain criticism of their products in their posts. Guess I have to kiss their rings to get a real honest opinion to be posted instead of the “Gee gosh I think this is neato” posts.

  2. scott 12 December, 2014 at 16:58

    am i seeing correctly that manziel auto is a sticker not on card?? that’s a big fail if that’s the case.. so his cracked ice superbowl ticket etc etc will all be sticker auto’s??

  3. Steve 12 December, 2014 at 23:31

    The Contenders at least look like they “changed a little” from last years design & I say that because certain brands from other companies do not have much of a ‘design’ change at all (Topps Tribute BB; 20012-2013 & 2014). One issue I have with Panini is- ‘whomever answers their questions on the website’, should know their OWN PRODUCT OUTLINE……….RIGHT ?? (I have sent in 4 different queries about the 2012 Prominence set & ‘how many of each different rookie/auto/game-used or manufactured memorabilia…..each of the last 35 rookies signed in the set. Assuming each had 5 different cards within the number that was released to the consumer. And reading this now, it does seem a little confusing……BUT I DIDN’T MANUFACTURE THE CARDS !!! )

  4. David D 13 December, 2014 at 18:46

    Panini has NEVER posted my criticism because I think most of their products are overpriced and have utterly poor photography-compared to an Upper Deck photography. I think that their monopoly on basketball is a disaster too!

  5. steve 15 December, 2014 at 20:29

    David, I agree and a monopoly is very clear on the horizon !! They have it in Basketball, now in the Collegiate Sporting world, I’m not sure exactly-but at least half of the Football world (and that monopoly will increase with their recent ‘EXCLUSIVE’ NFLPA partnership, which begins in 2016) & finally Baseball~they have slowly worked their way into licensing on at least half that market
    I don’t collect nor do I keep up with the NHL & NHLPA…….but it seems like they have a pretty strong foothold in that area too. Their use to be another Company that “seemed a little greedy”, but time caught up with them and they lost a few licenses (both permanently & partially for being ‘naughty’……at least that’s what I read.

  6. kevin hurt 6 January, 2015 at 23:40

    wow these are so ugly I think im going to pass just on that these would down grade my collection.

  7. William Wagner 9 January, 2015 at 14:41

    Have not seen any information on Bard Sorenson variation for contenders from last year,can some help?

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