Contenders Football Rookie Ticket Autographs Visual History: 1998-2013

Contenders Football Rookie Ticket Autographs Visual History: 1998-2013

Although Playoff Contenders was introduced in 1993, the brand's biggest contribution to the hobby came a few years later. Debuting in 1998, Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs have become one of the most popular rookie card lines in the entire hobby.

Over the years, Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs have developed a strong and devoted following. For first-year players, they're among the go-to cards.

As the name suggests, the card designs follow a ticket theme. Some years are a little looser than others, but the name has remained constant since 1998. Most years have also seen the cards go without serial numbers with print runs later released. This has led to varied print runs, even within the same set. Because of this, some lesser players have become in high demand as set builders drive prices for the rarest cards.

Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Randy Moss are among the memorable Rookie Ticket Autographs from the line's early years. However, it's the 1998 Playoff Contenders Peyton Manning that stands above them all. Simply put, it's one of the most iconic of all modern football cards.

When Panini purchased Donruss Playoff in 2009, they continued to use the Playoff brand through 2011. However, in 2012, the name switched subtly to Panini Contenders.

Below is a visual history of the Contenders Rookie Ticket Autograph designs over the years. We've also included some of the highlights from each year, showcasing some of the great players who have had rookie cards with under the banner. Click on the links to shop for cards from that year.

What's your favorite design? Let us know in the comments below.

Contenders Football Rookie Ticket Autographs Through the Years

1998 Playoff Contenders

1998 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs Peyton Manning


  • Peyton Manning
  • Randy Moss
  • Hines Ward

1999 Playoff Contenders

1999 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs Kurt Warner


  • Kurt Warner
  • Edgerrin James
  • Donovan McNabb

2000 Playoff Contenders

2000 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs Tom Brady


  • Tom Brady
  • Brian Urlacher

2001 Playoff Contenders

2001 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs Drew Brees


  • Drew Brees
  • Michael Vick
  • LaDainian Tomlinson

2002 Playoff Contenders


  • Ed Reed
  • Julius Peppers

2003 Playoff Contenders


  • Troy Polamalu
  • Tony Romo
  • Jason Witten

2004 Playoff Contenders

2004 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs Eli Manning


  • Eli Manning
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Larry Fitzgerald

2005 Playoff Contenders

2005 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs Aaron Rodgers


  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Alex Smith

2006 Playoff Contenders

2006  Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs Jay Cutler


  • Jay Cutler
  • Delaine Walker
  • Reggie Bush

2007 Playoff Contenders

2007 Playoff Contenders Adrian Peterson RC


  • Adrian Peterson
  • Calvin Johnson
  • Patrick Willis

2008 Playoff Contenders

2008 Playoff Contenders Joe Flacco RC


  • Joe Flacco
  • Matt Ryan
  • Chris Johnson

2009 Playoff Contenders

2009 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs Matthew Stafford

Top Players:

  • Matthew Stafford
  • Mark Sanchez
  • Clay Matthews

2010 Playoff Contenders


  • Sam Bradford
  • Tim Tebow
  • Rob Gronkowski

2011 Playoff Contenders

2011 Playoff Contenders Football Rookie Ticket Autographs Cam Newton


  • Cam Newton
  • Colin Kaepernick
  • Andy Dalton

2012 Panini Contenders

2012 Panini Contenders Football RPS Rookie Ticket Autographs Andrew Luck


  • Andrew Luck
  • Robert Griffin III
  • Russell Wilson

2013 Panini Contenders

2013 Panini Contenders Football Rookie Ticket Autographs 208 Eddie Lacy


  • Eddie Lacy
  • Keenan Allen
  • EJ Manuel
Top eBay Listings

2004 Playoff Contenders #136 Jared Lorenzen New York Giants Auto RC Card 0l0

Isaiah Crowell 2014 Panini Contenders Autograph Rookie (#30)

David Fales 2014 Panini Contenders Autograph Rookie #89 99

2013 Panini Contenders Authentic Geno Smith Rookie Autograph Card

2010 Playoff Contenders #231.1 Ryan Mathews San Diego Chargers Auto RC Card 0d8

2010 Playoff Contenders #130 Dominique Curry St. Louis Rams Auto RC Card 0o2

2010 Playoff Contenders 232.2 Sam Bradford (Both Hands on Ball) READ Auto RC 0o2

2010 Playoff Contenders #142 James Starks Green Bay Packers Auto RC Card 0v3

2007 Playoff Contenders #199 Matt Spaeth Pittsburgh Steelers Auto RC Card 0a7

2006 Playoff Contenders #135 Derrick Ross Kansas City Chiefs Auto RC Card 0m0

2006 Playoff Contenders #183 Maurice Stovall Tampa Bay Buccaneers Auto RC 0m0

2006 Playoff Contenders #126 Jerome Harrison Cleveland Browns Auto RC Card 0m0

2004 Playoff Contenders #137 Jarrett Payton Tennessee Titans Auto RC Card 0q4

2013 Panini Contenders #231 Robert Woods (ball in left arm) Auto Rookie Card 3o8

2013 Panini Contenders Rookie Ink Autographs #35 Tavon Austin Auto Card 2q2

2014 Panini Contenders Rookie Ink RPS #RRI-BC Brandin Cooks Auto Card 2e1
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Ryan Cracknell

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Ryan is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff. His collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection.

User Comments

  1. I like the 2001 and 2008 years the best and I feel like lately it has been an overrated product that does not live up to the standard set by previous years

  2. I opened a 2000 contenders pack and got a blue brady rc that was ot numbered what happened here? it should have been numbered to 1 or 100 right?

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