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Friday, August 17, 2007

'07 Football Card pack reviews Part 1: Donruss

Preseason is upon us, my fantasy football draft is next Wednesday, and for the first time since 2001 the impending doom of an inevitably disastrous Falcons season is crushing my soul. Thank goodness off the field issues aren't upstaging the NFL season, or so the commish says. Yeah Rog, in the space of three months I've gone from being upbeat over a good draft and excited about the new offensive system, to staring bleakly into the "Joey Harrington Era" and wondering just how long it will take for Arthur to pack the moving vans to Los Angeles. I'm soooo excited about this season I could just roll around in a pile of razor blades and dive into a pool of lemon juice. Which is actually less painful than watching our run defense or offensive line's pass protection. At least I can still be distracted by the new 2007 football cards that are out.

Over the past month or so, I've picked up packs here and there of 2007 football cards. I'm reviewing each set on the virtues of a single pack mainly because I don't like football cards enough to actually buy a box of all this stuff. It's much easier to swallow blowing 3 bucks on a pack rather than drop the $20 for a box blaster. Now is it really fair to judge an entire set by the virtues of one pack? No, not really. It's also not fair that packs are 3 bucks a pop for 5 to 10 cards when they used to be 15 cards for 35 cents.

I'm reviewing 3 packs per manufacturer. Three's as good a number as any. I'm starting off my reviews with Donruss products mainly because they got screwed out of their baseball license. They may as well get some football love.

Donruss Classics 2007
$2.99 for 5 cards (retail)
Spokesman: Joe Namath

The cards:
12 Lee Evans
69 Laveranues Coles
89 Marc Bulger
47 Fred Taylor
5 Alge Crumpler
A chunk of cardboard thick enough to choke a mule

Donruss Classics sports an attractive brown-orange-beigey horizontal striped motif, which looks better than it sounds. The player photo is inside an oval design that is found on the reverse flopped on its side containing a short factoid about the player. The player's name and team are contained in a stylized ribbon, which is also replicated on the back of the card. The design element gives short shrift to statistics by squeezing in only 2006 and career stat lines inside the top brown stripe. Foil is used judiciously on the logo, player name and two stripes bordering the bottom brown stripe on the front of the card. UV coating is limited on the front to the bottom stripe, orange border surrounding the photo and the player itself.

Donruss Classics is easily the prettiest of the cards I'm reviewing this week, but this pack also had one of the least bangs for the buck. It is somewhat disappointing to drop 3 bucks on a pack and get all semistars and a three card thick chunk of glaring white cardboard. Donruss could at least stick an ad on the thing if they insist on inserting it into packs. Every card in this pack can be picked up for a quarter or two at the local card shop. It's not really fair to judge Classics on one pack, it does have some decent stuff like autographed rookies, legends cards and the normal Donruss truckload o'inserts and parallels. All very nice if you're lucky enough to pull one. This pack wasn't a total waste though. I did pull a nice looking Alge card, I was forced to learn how to spell 'Laveranues' in order to write this review and you gotta love Broadway Joe on the packaging. Not a bad set if you're willing to take a risk and prefer quality over quantity.

Card design: Touchdown!
Photos: First down
Stats: Sacked! 8 yard loss
Overall quality:Field Goal
Value of this pack: Run stuffed for no gain

2007 Playoff Prestige
$2.99 for 5 cards (retail)
Spokesman: Vince Young

The cards:
100 Jerricho Cotchery
58 Ahman Green
SBH9 Super Bowl Heroes Thomas Jones
205 Lorenzo Booker Rookie
145 Travis Henry
scoring drive fantasy football advertisement

Playoff Prestige has a full bleed photo with a logo bug on the top left corner and an information bar at the bottom of the card. The info bar looks kind of like a utilitarian version of Classics' frilly ribbon and includes the player name, team name, conference, position and number. Rookie cards get a big ROOKIE designation in all caps right above the bar. the only foil stamping on the cards is on the logo in the upper corner. One wonders why they even bothered with foil. I guess it's like that little sprig of parsley or arugula they put on the plate at fancy steakhouses. No one really wants it, but it would look cheap without it. The backs are quite attractive in their simplicity. The right third of the card is a close up of the picture on the front, in case we forgot since we flipped the card over. The left side has a table of personal info in the top left corner, the player's name in script underneath that, up to five years of stats in the middle and a large team logo on the bottom. The card number is in the top right corner of the stat box, and is fairly easy to read.

This pack certainly had more in it, even though it's still pretty mediocre. The 1-per-pack rookie is a mid-round running back who might have trouble making the team. The insert features a workhorse who is with a different team than pictured on the card. The rest of the pack nets two running backs that are getting long in the tooth and another Jets wide receiver with a difficult name to type. The one rookie a pack is kinda nice, at least you know you're getting something for the money. Including 100 rookies including 10 short prints dilutes things a bit though, you're more likely to get a late rounder with little impact. For anyone interested, here are the short prints:
158 Kenny Irons (out for the season)
161 Darius Walker (undrafted, already cut by Texans)
169 Anthony Gonzalez
176 Jason Hill
189 Patrick Willis
211 Paul Williams
239 Jared Zabransky
240 Chris Leak
241 Jordan Palmer
242 Garrett Wolfe
Overall a pretty nice set if you're into this sort of thing, but it seems like more of the same to me. A 150 card veteran set seems a bit skimpy and 100 rookies with short prints means a complete set is kind of difficult. I'm probably just wistful for the Playoff Prestige cards of old, with the metallic sheen and card stock thicker than this entire pack.

Card design: Field Goal
Photos: First down
Stats: Short pass, gain of 5
Overall quality: First Down
Value of this pack: Extra Point

2007 Score
$2.99 for 32 cards (Jumbo)
Spokesman: Whoever is the first card in the pack

The cards:
331 Jamarcus Russell Rookie
355 Joe Thomas Rookie
339 Sidney Rice Rookie
31 Sean Taylor
47 Roy Williams
62 Tarvaris Jackson
10 Roy Williams
27 Clinton Portis
44 Brian Urlacher
60 Nick Barnett
75 DeAngelo Hall
90 Marques Colston
106 Anquan Boldin
13 Jeremy Shockey
30 Chris Cooley
46 Kevin Jones
102 Jermaine Phillips
9 DeMarcus Ware
26 Jason Campbell
43 Mark Anderson
59 AJ Hawk
74 Alge Crumpler
89 Scott Fujita
105Edgerrin James
12 Plaxico Burress
29 Brandon Lloyd
Atomic 240 Vince Young
Atomic 18 Donovan McNabb
F-8 Maurice Jones-Drew Franchise
Glossy 191 Justin Smith
Glossy 278 Kirk Morrison
Glossy 19 Brian Westbrook

Score looks like the designers briefly considered an elegant understated look, then said what the hell and threw zigzaggy lines of clashing colors all over the place. The front features a full bleed photo that fades to white at the top. The left side has three white lines slanting towards the nameplate at the bottom. The first years get a Rookie designation above the slanty lines on the left in white. The right side has more slanty lines, this time in both white and team colors, pointing toward the logo in the bottom right corner. The back is a wonderfully gaudy mess. The team logo is segregated in the top right corner by more slanty lines. The card number and personal info takes up the top left. Another 5-year stat recap fills the middle of the card in alternating team colors. The bottom is filled up with the player name, position, a short factoid on the player and a useless white box presumably used for framing the serial numbers on the parallels. I swear I've seen this exact design on another set from a few years back, but I may just be befuddled by all the pretty colors.

Now this is a pack! 32 cards for 3 bucks! 3 rookies guaranteed! 3 inserts! 3 useless glossy parallels! Yeah it's Score, whose only chance for lasting value is if 30 years from now it's discovered to be as scarce as 1941 Goudey because everyone recycled it because it's so worthless, but still that's a nice chunk of cards for the money. If you want something you might actually be able to sell for a profit, try cracking a few boxes of Select instead. Besides, the only way you'll ever get rich with retail packs is by searching every pack for jersey cards with calipers, a geiger counter and a divining rod until Wal-Mart security throws you out of the store. These jumbo packs have a clear wrapper, allowing you to see the top card. The top card is always a rookie and I couldn't resist the Jamarcus Russell. There will be three rookies at least per pack, it is possible to get more if you happen to get a pack with high numbers in it. With 23 base cards per pack, there's bound to be somebody good in there somewhere. The pack netted Urlacher, Portis, Shockey and a couple of Falcons who have somehow managed to not embarrass themselves, their team, their city and their mommas this offseason. There is also three thoroughly useless glossy cards and an insert per pack, either a Franchise card, a Hot Rookie card or a numbered parallel. There is also two of an insert exclusive to this pack - the Atomic parallel. It's basically another lousy parallel set except this one is all freaky shiny matrix rainbow foil coolness. Card manufacturers have long known that collectors tend to act like deranged magpies when confronted with shiny things, and they once again exploit it here. I can't complain, Vince Young and Donovan McNabb are nice cards even without the mesmerizing foil.

Card design: Penalty: Illegal use of the 1988 Fleer design
Photos: First down
Stats: Short pass, gain of 5
Overall quality: Extra Point
Value of this pack: Touchdown!

Up Next: Upper Deck, because I can only find 2 '07 Topps packs


Joey said...

I like your scoring system. I have bought some of the Prestige, okay but not great. The Score I hated. The card design reminded me of that stick of gum that had the multi colored zebra as the mascot.

dayf said...

Ha! Fruit Stripe gum, that's awesome. A good analogy for Score too, because it packs a lot of flavor at first then quickly starts tasting like cardboard. Still even though it's not that great a set, it's nice to see a 3 dollar pack that actually has a lot of cards in it. I was looking through some upcoming upper deck products and it seems every pack from them (at least hobby packs) retails for five bucks a pop nowadays.

I'm serious about Score ripping off some other set's design though. I could swear I've seen almost the exact same design on another recent football set but I just can't remember which. I'll post it if I can think of it and I'm not just dreaming it up.