As one of the constants in the modern football hobby, there is not much out there that can match the legacy of Contenders Football. Celebrated for the depth of the checklist and the on-card autographs, Rookie Tickets remain at the forefront for collectors in most years and 2015 Panini Contenders Football falls right in line. Although the product is primarily focused on the main autograph portion of the base set, a variety of variations and parallels offer quite a bit for collectors to chase.
Make no mistake — Contenders is all about the rookies. Headlining things are the RPS Rookie Tickets which feature Jameis Winston, Todd Gurley, Marcus Mariota and Amari Cooper, among others. It is important to note that Winston, Gurley and Cooper were all issued as redemptions but Panini has announced that the live cards for Winston and Cooper are already in-house. While the delay is disappointing, no matter how short, most collectors would gladly wait to receive a hard-signed rookie autograph versus getting the sticker card immediately. A few of the RPS cards do feature sticker autographs, but the majority are signed on-card.
Because of the nature of the industry, the on-card autographs in Contenders generally come from subjects at the Rookie Premiere. While that does usually guarantee the top picks and most-hyped players heading into the season, the in-season breakouts receive limited coverage in most products. This is another appealing aspect for collectors as the Contenders checklist is quite deep. The one compromise is that outside of the RPS cards, they all feature sticker autographs, but it gives many collectors one of the few chances each season at obscure or less-heralded rookie signatures.
While the rookies are quite popular, it is the variations that create the most potential value and intrigue. Panini does normally disclose which cards are short prints, and how limited they are, within a few weeks of release, but it is basically a guessing game until that point and plenty of deals can be found.
Adding another wrinkle for collectors, Coaches Tickets cover subjects that tend to get overlooked in the hobby. While there are only five, it does offer the signed options for several notable coaches, including Bruce Arians, Sean Payton, Chip Kelly and and Chuck Pagano.
The following guide looks at the 50 most-watched 2015 Panini Contenders Football auctions currently on eBay. Because it is constantly refreshing with the newest information, it is a great resource to track which cards are commanding the most attention at any given moment.
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Trey Treutel is an Ole Miss grad and a lifelong sports fanatic. He is a huge fan of the NBA and NFL, as well as soccer, college basketball and college football. As a kid, he collected football and basketball cards. In more recent years, he started collecting basketball cards again on a whim and has since expanded to other sports and entertainment options. Find Trey on Twitter at @datreute or Google+.
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