Panini America World Premiere: The 2011 Playoff Contenders Football Rookie Tickets

Following a brief dose of social-media suspense-building yesterday and a visual history lesson earlier today, the time has come for Panini America to unveil the design for its ballyhooed 2011 Playoff Contenders Football Rookie Ticket Rookie Cards.

Following a brief dose of social-media suspense-building yesterday and a visual history lesson earlier today, the time has come for Panini America to unveil the design for its ballyhooed 2011 Playoff Contenders Football Rookie Ticket Rookie Cards.

The 2011 edition of this perenniel pigskin product-of-the-year favorite will hit shelves in early January, but we all know it’s never too early to pull the curtain back just a bit on something this special.

The cards you are about to see finished printing just last week and many of them have already been shipped to the respective players on them for autographs. For just the fourth time since 1998 (but the second time in three years), one of football’s flagship brands will utilize a horizontal format and perhaps its most vibrant color schemes ever.

Take a look for yourself below. After you’ve had the chance to soak it all in, please let us know what you think. The three most constructive/thoughtful commenters just migth be on the winning end of some “absolutely” sweet football cards in the near future.


47 Replies to “Panini America World Premiere: The 2011 Playoff Contenders Football Rookie Tickets”

  1. This product looks great, I was looking for something to criticize but I honestly do not see anything. Can’t wait to get my hands on these!

  2. lol I never understand how you pick some of these players.Powell,Todman,Gates,Jernigan over more proven players even in college, Like Robert Quinn, Patrick Peterson,Bruce Carter ,two of which were top 15 picks and then Bruce a second round pick only because of a torn acl on senior night.Thats my only thing too complain about with this product.Cards look great its just tiring seeing the same players, get those other 3!!!

  3. Not a fan of the big white box for the autograph, would have looked better with a full player picture and just have them sign over that. All those “Vibrant colors” makes my head hurt, I need to go lay down now! Overall not as good as last year, but not as bad as passed years. 3 out of 4 stars!

  4. These look GOOD! I love how colorful they are, but with the colors having a meaning. I love the ticket layout an the amount of information that is given in an attractive way, rather than crammed on the back in small text. Knowing at what spot the player was drafted adds some excitement when you pull one of these cards, even if you don’t know the player. 2010-11 Playoff Contenders Hockey is what got me started with card collecting again, and the beauty of the rookie cards surpasses anything else I’ve gotten in the same price range. Now I’m VERY eager for these!

  5. Those will look nice and clean with on card autos. I love the white background for autos on basically any set. If I were to pick on anything it would be that the design on the left side seems a little old compared to other products and it would be pretty awesome if the “Established year” was the year the player was born.

  6. Horizontal pics, Blah! Big white area for the auto? Looks like the player is trapped in a box! Will still buy a half a case to a case as usual thought! 2010 was much nicer!

  7. I like them, the horizontal design is nice and I love the white box for autos. I would much rather have a white background for an auto, makes it look cleaner in my opinion. The colors are asthetically pleasing as well I think the only thing I would go is put the teams location ( Detroit, Chicago, New York, ect ) in the color block behind the player.

  8. Please just let the design dept know that it’s “not bad” and if that’s the goal then they’ve nailed it on the head. I truly don’t like the horizontal design with the small player pic and find the colors to be very CrossColors 90’s ish. I wish your designers were actually card collectors themselves, because as a life-long card collector and graphic designer myself I would absolutely KILL for a job at Panini and I would work around the clock nonstop (unpaid) brainstorming on how I could make this the best set ever. Unfortunately it seems to me like they cherish their design elements much more than the actual photos of players that we, as collectors, love to see featured much more than the graphics. 2010 NT was an epic design letdown in that player-to-design ratio and I’ve got to say that this is close to that area as well. Again, it’s “not bad”, but coming off of such a beautiful 2010 Contenders product this is indeed a letdown.

    I know this review won’t win me any boxes, but I really had to get this constructive criticism off of my chest in hopes that it will somehow help the future of this hobby that I so truly LOVE.

    On a positive note to you Tracy, you are SUCH a good PR guy you truly do need a raise. I love the way you keep fans engaged and awaiting the newest products. Your commitment to social media and outreach to the collectors that drive this hobby is fantastic.

  9. Pretty nice looking cards. I’m not sure about the white box, but that may change once I see an actual autographed card. I prefer a full photo and have the auto area lighten. At least you don’t have ROOKIE in big bold letters, I never really liked that. Either way, I will be ripping these like I always do. I would also love to see an all on card rookie auto set, but I’m sure the logistics will make that near impossible, plus the set would be loaded with redemptions (more than a normal Contenders set). Right now, it looks like a B+, with the potential of an A.

  10. I never really minded whether the card designs were horizontal or vertical. What mattered most about this product was how well the cards lookeed as a set. Last year, I agree with other posters, the autographs variations allowed for a better collecting pursuit. The set, however looks great. It looks much more vibrant than last year’s gray background, and the white box will make the autos themselves POP more than the 2009 horizonatl set.

    It’s like you took the best parts of the last 4 years and made a great set, but limited the draw of variations and players.

  11. I love the horizontal look to the rookie design!! The team colors add a great pizzaz to them and give them an awesome vibe. This product seems to get better every year and I love to chase the hard to find autos that are within the set. By far the best looking Rookie tickets to date! seeing the team logo and year team was introduced into a “ticket” look makes the cards even more exciting. I would collect these even without the autos. would make a great set and look incredible in 9 card ct sheet pages in a binder lined up and would b an awesome thing to show other collectors. and now to where the auto goes….i love the white box look!! i think it will make the auto stand out and give the card a look hard to beat. overall a very impressive look to these! playoff contenders rocks again and will b most sought after rookie cards on the market. great job panini!

  12. I really like the geometric design of the card. The three major aspects: 1. Player Photo 2. “Ticket” and 3. Autograph each have their own space. I think that’s a nice change of pace from most other card designs out there. It’s almost like the opposite of Crown Royale (another of my faves). Whereas Crown features a beautifully integrated and rich design, ’11 Contenders is more simple and clean.

    I also really like the white box and how it contrasts with the other colors in the cards. I think the autos are really going to pop.

    Nice work. I think it’s an upgrade over 2010, which is saying something!

  13. CAN’T WAIT!!the cards are very clean looking and the color scheme for each team is great..all the horizontal haters please explain?I think it improves the looks the white signing area is what was needed instead of not being able to see the auto.action poses are also nice to help the looks of the cards.

  14. Four weeks into the season and some players still don’t have pictures with their right number or a number at all; “00” is not a number. It is dissipating to see such a high end set will have such dated pictures.

    Otherwise looks nice.

  15. I don’t think I like that big white block for the auto. Sure the auto will be noticeable, but how about extending the picture of the player all the way down the card and have a gradual fade to white in that same area? Or a complete pic of the player with a faded out rectangle over the player at the bottom for the auto?

  16. I was really worried about how these would look, because I LOVED last years design over any of the previous ones(09 was my least favorite) I was reading during work that they were revealed as horizontal designs(I’m not able to see any images at work) and became very nervous it was going to look like 2009 and have too much going on and takes away from the quality of the card. Now that I am finally home and able to look at them, I really like them a lot. Everything stands out so well and it is very vibrant and not in a cheesy way. There is a lot going on on the card, but ITS BALANCED and well designed. The only thing that disappoints me a little(if I had to nitpick), is one of the reasons why 2010 was my favorite. It is lacking the date of the first game of the season on the card. I see the stadium name on the side, and I hope the date is to go there because since I have been going to the season openers for the past few years, its a great way to commemorate the event. Overall I love the design and cant wait for the release!!! Will we see some gold too?

  17. When evaluating a sports card product, there are three things to keep in mind that determines if a card is a winner (or not). The first is the design and layout itself. The second is the cataog of players in the set. And lastly, but most importantly is collectability.

    The first criteria mentioned is design/layout – considering this is Panini’s flagship brand for the autographed football rookie card this brand should introduce Panini’s best rookie card of the year. Neither the design or layout of the current Contenders football brand is anything to be awe inspired about. It seems as if the design is stuck in a blah blah mode. There is nothing that jumps out at the collector. There needs to be revamped design of this brand if it wishes to survive its subsequent issues. There is just nothing there to pull the collector in.

    Secondly, the checklist is adequate but needs to include some of the players that are not found in other sets. There seems to be much of the same as the Prestige, Elite, and Gear autograph rookie cards that shouldn’t. There should be more 1st rookie autograph cards that no one thought of putting in their brands, even if that means OL’s and Kickers. Lets give some love to the men who are so underrated in winning for out beloved teams!!

    Lastly, but most importantly is collectability. This is what has allowed Contenders to survive all these years. Sadly, it will be its demise I fear after this set unless some mind blowing autographs are included. When one thinks of the autographed football RC they often think of Contenders. It is getting bland so it really needs a facelift and more involvement from the collecting community. Panini has done so well in designing their cards that anything uninspired will be discarded so when Panini gets down to designing their Contenders auto RCs, they need to pick the best one of all of their products and only then will Contenders survive!!!

  18. I think this years design is very unique. I love the horizontal design and unlike some people on here i do like the white area for the autograph. That way the auto dosent get lost in the picture. I also like how you guys put the year their team was established. I loved last years desgin so much and always love the on-card autos but you guys definetly topped last years Contenders! Keep up the great work and i cant wait for January now!!

  19. I liked last years set a lot but I was hoping this years would be based off of last years set. I like the vertical look better cuz it has the full body shot.ill still buy cards from this product but I think it could have looked lot better.

  20. Last year’s design and it’s homage to the original ’98 set is a tough one to follow. I think this is a pretty strong design and a nice contrast to the simpler design from last year. I think it was a sound decision to go in a very different direction to establish this year as it own.

    I was a big fan of the color usage in this past year’s Classic bball and I like that this design follows a similar style. Having the team colors take center stage is something Contenders has done very well in the past and it continues here. As a Vikings fan I will want these cards in my collection since they aren’t just a card with a Viking on it, they really look like a Vikings themed card.

    I anxiously await images of the cards once they are signed. The box does stick out here but the signatures should help balance that with the rest of the design.

    I go back to the contrast to last year’s design, it was vertical and open, and this feels more stout. Stout works with football cards.

  21. As there are already enough differing opinions about the positives and negatives of this design, I don’t think it’s possible to pull off a “perfect” design that everyone likes.

    I will always prefer the player and autograph (if used) to be the focus of a given card, not the set name or graphics. With that said, these cards should look great with what I assume will be on-card signatures and a non-foil board card stock.

    Is there any chance the entire autograph checklist will be on-card?

    1. John, these will be on-card and on non-foilboard stock. We will keep striving for an all-on-card autograph checklist but there will be stickers used in this product as well.

  22. I know some people don’t like the horizontal design, but I actually do like it. I think the Rookie Tickets are well designed and well balanced with only two things that I can nit pick at… First is on the left “ticket” portion. I don’t like the use of the white on the “Round, Pos, Overall” part of the ticket and how it makes the ticket blend in with the background a little too much. I think using the dark tan color as the background there instead of the white (with the alternate team color as the text) would have made the ticket portion pop just a little bit more. The only other thing that I can nit pick is minor, but I just don’t enjoy the location of the stadium being on the very right side and jutting out next to the player. I would rather the stadium info be included on the rightside “ticket” portion somewhere or not at all, but again that is just personal preference. Otherwise, I do like the way the autograph is sort of highlighted by the white box and how the cards feel really well balanced.

    I’m no designer nor do I have any background in it, but I got bored at work and decided to see what the card would look like if I made those changes and even created what a “black” version might look like as a SP variation or something. I had to use Paint as that is all I have on work computer, so by no means is it great, but I thought it was fun and do like how it would look black instead of white with like a silver ink autograph. Take a look at the photobucket links below if anyone is interested. Thanks again Tracy for the early look, and I really do think they look great as is!

  23. I am comment number 41. Lots of people very interested in this product. People always ask for change in design. When you give them change in design, some hate it, some love it. You will NEVER please everyone. Contenders was “2010 Football Product of the Year” from my customers point of view. This years product looks even better (my point of view). If this year’s rookies get some playing time, look out. This product will dry up fast.

  24. I think they look really great!! What I think that is keeping the base cards from looking perfect is that white square under the players picture. They will look Perfect with autos!! How about for the base set, putting the team names in light gray in the white box, or maybe a printed auto. Just suggesting. Thank you for all you do as a company!

  25. Overall design looks great . Really love the autograph window. The auto’s should really pop. Looking foward to the release. Keep up the hreat work panini .

  26. I like the Horizontal photos and the color scheme. The Jersey colors are a nice contrast to the background using alternating colors. The area for the signatures doesnt detract from the card itself and is out of the way, not covering the picture as it has in the past. Nice team logo placement that adds to the overall display of the card. Hopefully these arent excessively shiny as the cards are well done and can stand on their own.

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