Contenders

The Playoff Contenders brand recently celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary with the release of 2012 Panini Contenders Football. Dating its origins back to 1993, the Contenders set consisted of 150 total cards, including rookies of recent Hall of Fame inductees Jerome Bettis and Willie Roaf. A premium product designed to showcase key rookies, the brand was a welcome edition to the football card market.

Creating an Identity

In 1998, Contenders introduced an insert and design concept that would forever change the landscape of rookie autographed trading cards. The Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs were a beautiful creation that incorporated design elements of a game ticket with the autograph of key rookies. Through the years, these cards have been some of the most coveted in the entire hobby. This gallery, will show you in clear detail, why collectors have been so fond of this set.

Through the Years

Since it’s inception the Contenders brand has been utilized in other sports as well, most notably basketball. The Rookie Ticket Autographs transitioned well to that product category and the brand’s most recent release in basketball showed strong demand on the secondary market. In 2011, with Panini’s return to baseball thanks to their newly acquired MLBPA license, the Contenders brand was expanded to baseball. Lacking logos and official uniforms the product was received to mixed reviews.

Contenders Card Sets

Browse our database of Contenders trading card sets, which feature product reviews, set checklists, expert analysis, price comparisons, and more.